What are terpenes and what do they do in cannabis?

medical marijuana note for researchers

You may have heard of terpenes in marijuana, but what do they do? Terpenes are fragrant oils that can be found in plants like cannabis and others. Myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene are three of the most well-known terpenes. It has been shown that these terpenes help reduce inflammation, protect against bacteria and viruses, and have other health benefits.

Terpenes are very important for cannabis plants to grow and stay alive. Terpenes are chemicals that are found in the cannabis plant’s trichomes. Small, sticky glands called trichomes cover the surface of buds and leaves. Terpenes help make different smells, make cannabis taste good, and make the leaves and buds look nice. This makes the plant more appealing to some animals but scares away animals that could hurt it.

The top three terpenes in cannabis and what they do.

There are more than 150 different terpenes in cannabis, which is a huge number. Many of these are present in amounts that are too low to notice, but some are more noticeable. Here’s what you need to know about the top three terpenes in cannabis.


Most types of cannabis are mostly made up of myrcene or caryophyllene. Hops and lemongrass also contain large amounts of myrcene, a terpene that is associated with earthy, herbaceous, spicy, and musky smells. Myrcene, which is also found in mangoes, gives cannabis a mildly sweet taste.

Myrcene is part of what gives cannabis its distinctive smell, and it can also help reduce inflammation. A study done in 2015 on cultured cells shows that myrcene may be able to reduce the inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. The terpene also seemed to help stop cartilage cells from breaking down, slow the progression of osteoarthritis, and stop the body from making certain inflammatory cells. In the future, myrcene could be used to help treat diseases that cause inflammation and their symptoms.


Caryophyllene, often called beta-caryophyllene or -caryophyllene, gives certain strains of cannabis a pungent, peppery flavor. Caryophyllene is also present in cloves, rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. If you smell any of these things when you smell a certain kind of cannabis, caryophyllene is probably there.

Caryophyllene is the only terpene in cannabis that is known to bind to the CB2 receptor in the immune system’s endocannabinoid system. Caryophyllene is sometimes called an unusual cannabinoid because of how it works. Research into how caryophyllene can be used as a medicine has shown that it may be able to ease the symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, cerebral ischemia, diabetes, depression, liver fibrosis, and diseases that are related to Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers believe that caryophyllene’s CB2 receptor activity might be beneficial in the future to manage diseases with inflammatory symptoms.


The name “limonene” gives away what this terpene smells like clean, fresh, and uplifting citrus. Limonene is found in the peels of citrus fruits and ginger. It is also the main terpene in cannabis strains like Papaya Punch and Black Cherry Soda that smell fruity and fresh. Limonene seems to change how some immune cells in the body work, which could protect the body from a number of diseases. In one study, limonene helped the spleen and bone marrow make more cells that make antibodies. These cells are used by the immune system to find and destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. Researchers have also recently suggested that limonene’s unique therapeutic profile could be used to treat COVID-19.

There are many different terpenes in cannabis, but myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene are the most common ones. These terpenes not only give cannabis its unique taste and smell, but also have a number of health benefits. So, the next time you’re looking at the menu at a cannabis dispensary, keep an eye out for these three terpenes. You might just find the perfect cultivar for you.

The unique therapeutic profile of limonene

Recent research has begun to show that limonene, the terpene that gives many types of cannabis their citrusy smell, has unique therapeutic benefits. Limonene is one of the most common terpenes in nature, and it has been shown to help people in a number of ways. Besides having a pleasant smell, limonene has been shown to help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Based on these results, it seems likely that limonene could help treat a wide range of conditions. Because of this, limonene has a unique therapeutic profile that makes it a good choice for treating a wide range of problems.

It’s important to remember that we are still learning about terpenes and their interactions with other cannabinoids and flavonoids. However, the research that is being conducted is yielding some very interesting findings. We are excited to see where this field of study goes in the coming years and how it can help patients. If you have any questions about terpenes or would like to learn more, please schedule an appointment today. Our team of experts will be happy to answer any of your questions!

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