What are Cannabis Terpenes?

Liz Filmer
26 Aug 2022

One of the primary compounds found in "essential oils", terpenes are most commonly derived from plants: these include not just cannabis but other herbs, plants, flowers and fruits. Terpenes and their unique ratios are what give plants their taste and aroma. Terpenes may act as both a deterrent from predators and an attractant for pollinators.

Terpenes are thought to have both medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Terpenes can be found in spices, teas, and essential oils we use daily and are noticeably present in cannabis. The mix of different terpenes is what gives each strain its unique smell.Cannabis terpenes have a variety of therapeutic characteristics, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-anxiety properties.


There are primary and secondary terpenes. Primary terpenes mainly affect how the plant looks, tastes, and aroma it gives off. Secondary terpenes add depth and layers to these plant features. 

Cannabis strains are divided into Indica and Sativa, based on the type of hybrid traits the plant embodies. These traits include taste and aroma, and effect. A typical Indica strain creates a sensation of complete body relaxation. Sativa strains, however, impart an energising, creative high. 

A strain's taste, scent, and texture make a strain either indica or sativa. The variety of terpenes present strain and whether those terpenes are primary or secondary are crucial to this distinction. Here are some examples of the most common primary and secondary terpenes that you will find in cannabis.


Pinene- Unsurprisingly, this one smells of pine trees and generally has a beautiful outdoorsy, earthy aroma. It is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and bronchial dilator therapeutic remedy. Haze Berry, OG Kush, and Blue Dream all contain a majority share of Pinene.

Humulene- Another outdoorsy, woodsy scent. This terpene has two primary medicinal uses and is considered an effective appetite suppressant and an anti-inflammatory. Humulene is found in strains such as Gelato and Sour Diesel. 

Limonene– With its unmistakable, zingy, citrusy scent, Limonene is considered a natural mood elevator. Its uplifting qualities are thought to help in reducing anxiety and depression. It is also believed to hold value as a digestive aid. Limonene is notably present in strains such as Wedding Cake, Berry White and Quantum Kush.

Myrcene– Infamous for inducing overall body relaxation and that heavy feeling we call "Couch-Lock." Myrcene also enhances absorption in the body, increasing the number of cannabinoid substances in the brain. More cannabinoids in the brain equal a greater sense of euphoria. Myrcene is recognisable by a clove-like, earthy, musty smell. Strains high in Myrcene include potent indica dominant classics such as GSC, OG Kush and Grape Ape. 


Borneol- A terpene with a minty aroma and flavour with an accompanying subtle metallic undertone. Medicinally it is thought to hold anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities. Borneol can be found in K13-Haze, Amnesia Haze and Golden Haze strains.

Phytol-With floral tones, this terpene encourages a feeling of relaxation in the user. It is unsurprisingly known for its gently sedating and anti-anxiety effects. Phytol can be found in the underlying tones of Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, and Cheese. 

Eucalyptol. This is a cooling menthol, minty scent with antibacterial and antifungal properties. Eucalyptol is a minor component of strains including GSC, AC/DC, and Headband. 

Sabinene- Relatively unheard of but punchy in presence, Sabinene has a distinctive peppery, spicy scent. Think Pumpkin Spiced latte, and you are halfway there. Its medicinal uses include antioxidant and antibacterial properties and are noticeably present in the Super Silver Haze strain. 

Liz Filmer