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Talk About Terpenes

Why are These Oils So Essential?

If you’re familiar with essential oils, the kind you might encounter at a wellness spa or health food store, you’re already ahead of the game here. Essential oils are natural liquid compounds that give plants their distinct aroma, and in the case of fruits, vegetables, and spices, contribute to their flavor. These compounds have a variety of properties and are distilled (extracted from the plant) for many uses, including flavoring, perfume, and cleaning. Essential oils such as sandalwood, tea tree, and eucalyptus have become very popular in the wellness industry.

Terpenoids, more commonly known as terpenes, are the aromatic components of essential oils, and cannabis produces more than 200 of them. Each strain presents terpenes in specific combinations and concentrations. The terpene profile of a particular strain will dictate its aroma and flavor, and may be what attracts people to one product over another, but terpene’s contributions don’t stop there. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have long been considered the sole active ingredients in cannabis, but recent developments are giving more credit to terpenes. It turns out a synergistic relationship exists between cannabinoids and terpenes in terms of their interaction with receptors throughout the brain and body. This relationship contributes to the “entourage effect,” a term coined to describe a more complex and beneficial outcome resulting from ingesting all cannabis constituents in concert. Consequently, strains with similar cannabinoid makeup may offer different experiences and outcomes due to their unique formulation of terpenes.

Alpha Pinene [al-fuh oy-need]

As the name suggests, pinene adds a pine tree scent to certain cannabis strains and is also naturally occurring in conifers. 

Caryophyllene Oxide [kar-e-oh-fy-leen ahk-syd]

Caryophyllene is a terpene with a woody, earthy aroma. You can find it in a variety of herbs and spices like oregano, rosemary, and black pepper. Learn more about Caryophyllene

Humulene [hu-mu-leen]

Known for having a spicy, herbal scent common in sage. It also gives hops its unique flavors. Learn more about Humulene 

Limonene [li-muh-nee]

Limonene offers a distinctive, citrusy scent. In fact, this exact same compound is found in the peels of citrus fruits.

Linalool [luh-na-lool]

A naturally occurring terpene found in many spices, including lavender and coriander.

Myrcene [mur-seen]

Myrcene’s sweet and earthy scent is common in cannabis plants and mangos. Learn more about Myrcene

Nerolidol [ne-raw-luh-dawl]

Has strong aromatics of florals, tea tree, and lemongrass. 

Terpinolene [turp-in-no-leen]

Terpinolene is also found in conifers, nutmeg, and cumin. 

So, as you select cannabis products and monitor your dosage outcomes, be sure to take note of terpene profiles available on every label. This can help inform your purchases going forward and help you achieve optimal results.


  1. Backes, Michael. Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana. New York:  Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. 2014
  2. Chen, Angus. “Some of the Parts: Is Marijuana’s ‘Entourage Effect’ Scientifically Valid?.” April, 2017.
  3. Adlin, Ben. “Terpinolene: The Least-Common Common Terpene.” September, 2018. 

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medical cannabis. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your cannabis use. The information and materials provided to you by PharmaCann should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you. There may be health risks associated with the consumption of medical cannabis, consult your physician. ©2019 PharmaCann. All rights reserved.

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