The Complete Cannabis Terpenes Guide

What Are Terpenes?

Welcome to the Oasis cannabis terpenes guide that will cover what terpenes are and how they can potentially help you. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in most plants. Terpenes are what give plants their distinctive smells, and cannabis is no exception. Each terpene found in the cannabis plant has a unique scent profile. While myrcene and pinene combine to create the sweet, berry aroma of Blue Dream, caryophyllene is the source of Original Glue’s pungent, skunky kick.

But terpenes in cannabis do a lot more than dictate a strain’s particular aroma. When combined with cannabinoids like THC or CBD, terpenes can induce unique therapeutic benefits within the body. Combining cannabinoids and terpenes boosts the overall therapeutic potential of cannabis (this is commonly referred to as the entourage effect.)

Strain type can also play a role in determining a strain’s unique effects. However, because most cannabis nowadays is some sort of hybrid, the strain’s terpene profile often plays a bigger role in determining specific effects.

How Do Terpenes Work?

Cannabis terpenes are no different from the terpenes found in other plants. However, cannabis terpenes do more than provide flavor and aroma. What makes them so unique is how they interact with the cannabinoid compounds found within cannabis. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant, such as THC and CBD. They deliver the effects of the plant as they bind with specific receptors in our body’s central nervous system.

Research shows that terpenes display distinct therapeutic effects in combination with cannabinoids. This marriage is known widely as the entourage effect. For example, strains containing the terpene linalool and a high level of CBD will regulate the way neurotransmitters contribute to anxiolytic and sedative effects. In essence, those strains are typically great for treating anxiety!

Understanding terpenes and their therapeutic role (the entourage effect) has become a desired skill in the cannabis industry. Cannabis cultivators have started paying more attention to terpenes and their functions to produce new strains for treating specific conditions.

Now that we know what terpenes are and how they work, let’s take a look at a few of the most common terpenes and how each of their therapeutic properties can work for you!

Fun Fact: Terpenes have strong odors and are often used by organisms as a defense mechanism to deter predators from eating the plant that is producing them. When it comes to growing and harvesting cannabis, humulene also has a vital role in protecting the plant. It helps the plant defend itself by warding off predators with its peppery aroma.

There are over 20,000 different terpenes within our ecosystem and over 100 terpenes that can be found in cannabis. Below is a list of some of the most common terpenes that you may come across as a cannabis consumer.


The most abundantly-occurring terpene in cannabis is myrcene (MUR-seen). About 40 percent of all commercial cannabis is myrcene-dominant. Myrcene possesses a characteristically herbal aroma and is also found in mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, and a variety of other herbs.

When present in cannabis, myrcene typically induces calming and sedative effects. Strains like OG Kush, Blue Dream, and Granddaddy Purple all get their sedative effects from their high levels of myrcene. Myrcene has also been shown to have certain anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects.


Pinene (PIE-neen) is another terpene commonly found in cannabis, although pinene-dominant strains are rare. As the name suggests, pinene has a potent piney and earthy scent. It is abundant in pine needles but also found in rosemary and basil.

Like myrcene, pinene has been shown to produce anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. Pinene can also act as a bronchodilator and aide in the opening of airways. Some strains that are typically high in pinene are Big Smooth, Cannatonic, and Critical Mass.


Caryophyllene (carry-OFF-uh-leen) is a terpene with a spicy, musky, and peppery scent. It is abundant in black pepper, hops, cloves, and oregano. Caryophyllene is what gives cracked black pepper its strong scent. Strains like Bubba Kush, Candyland, and Original Glue all typically contain high levels of caryophyllene.

Caryophyllene is an especially unique terpene because unlike any other terpene, it can actually act as a cannabinoid by binding to CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system. It does not produce any psychoactive effects on its own, but it can induce other beneficial effects from binding to these receptors, like reducing inflammation.


Limonene (LIM-o-neen) is a terpene that emits a strong citrusy and slightly fruity aroma. However, it should be noted that not all strains with a lemony scent are limonene-dominant. The only way to know a strain’s exact terpene profile is to check the lab results on the product, so if you’re looking for a limonene-packed strain, don’t rely on smell alone.

Banana OG, Wedding Cake, and Do-Si-Dos are all limonene-dominant strains. In addition to cannabis, lemon rinds, orange rinds, and juniper all contain high amounts of limonene.

Limonene-dominant strains tend to induce mood-elevating effects. Like other terpenes mentioned above, limonene has shown promise in providing anti-anxiety and stress-relieving effects. In very high doses, limonene has shown some potential as a reliever of heartburn or gastric reflux symptoms. It also may possess some antifungal and antibacterial properties in high doses.


Terpinolene (ter-PIN-uh-leen) has an array of notes reminiscent of other cannabis terpenes. It is piney, herbaceous, floral, and a little bit citrusy. In some strains, it can take on a fruity scent.

While common in cannabis, terpinolene (ter-PIN-uh-leen) is usually present in smaller amounts than other terpenes like myrcene or caryophyllene. Only about one in 10 strains are terpinolene-dominant. These strains tend to induce more uplifting and cerebral effects, rather than relaxing or sedative. More often than not, strains with high amounts of terpinolene are also THC-dominant. Jack Herer, XJ-13, and Golden Pineapple are a few popular terpinolene-dominant strains.


Linalool (LINN-uh-lool) is a terpene with a floral aroma. Besides cannabis, linalool is most commonly found in lavender and birch bark. Very few cannabis strains contain a high amount of linalool, but strains Zkittlez, Kosher Kush, and Do-Si-Dos all feature linalool as their third most abundant terpene.

Linalool has been used in traditional medicine for its sedative and anti-epileptic properties. Like a lavender bath bomb, linalool promotes calming effects, especially in conjunction with cannabis.

Terpenes are increasingly acknowledged as the biggest determining factor for the effects of a particular cannabis strain. If you are looking to use cannabis as a therapeutic agent for a particular ailment, terpenes can help guide you in the right direction, but any cannabis consumer can benefit from familiarizing themselves with the most common terpenes found in cannabis.

If you’d like more information on terpenes, check out this guide that Leafly put together that explores each terpene in detail:

We hope you found this cannabis terpenes guide useful, and welcome you to reach out with any topics you’d like to see in the future. If you’re in Las Vegas and are looking for cannabis products, check us out!

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