Terpenes are the organic compounds that give all plants their unique aromas and flavors, and in cannabis, each strain develops a distinct profile of terpenes. These fragrant molecules are secreted in the same oils as cannabinoids, but they are non-psychoactive, and many offer therapeutic benefits of their own.More than 100 different terpenes are known to exist in cannabis, and here we touch on 10 of the most common aromatic compounds we find in our favorite weed.
1. Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis and its aroma is earthy, herbal, and musky like cloves with hints of citrus. It has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects and it is this terpene (not a cannabinoid) that creates the well-known-among-stoners “couch-lock” effect.
2. Pinene is found in two forms, alpha-Pinene and beta-Pinene, and both smell of fresh pine needles, help with alertness, and aid memory. Alpha-Pinene in particular acts as a bronchodilator and is good for asthma.
3. Limonene is what gives cannabis a strong citrus aroma and bitter flavor, and it is known for its stress-relieving and mood elevating properties. One of two compounds created by α-Pinene, limonene exhibits anti-fungal, anti-tumor, and immunostimulating effects.
4. Caryophyllene smells of woodlands, spicy pepper, and cloves, and it is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system.
5. Humulene gives cannabis a strong smell of hops, just like craft beer. In addition to its anti-tumor, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, it acts as an appetite suppressant.
6. Linalool is best known for giving lavender flowers their uniquely pleasant scent and flavor, but it's also present in many cannabis strains. Linalool has sedative, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-epileptic properties.
7. Eucalyptol is what gives eucalyptus trees their distinctive smell, and this terpene (also known as cineole) is also found in some cannabis strains. We know it has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
8. Borneol gives a cool, minty aroma to cannabis that acts as a natural insect repellant. Formerly known as Borneo Camphor, this terpene has analgesic, anti-fibrosis, and anti-bacterial effects.
9. Phytol is unusual in that it has very little odor, and it's derived from the breakdown of chlorophyll that creates a distinct yellow color. Phytol is a well-known remedy for insomnia and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
10. Geraniol gives cannabis a sweet, floral scent and is a known natural antioxidant. Also, this terpene has been singled out for its potential to treat cancer.