Intro to Terpenes

We’ve talked about terpenes in a previous blog, but we focused only on one, myrcene. Terpenes are aromatic elements in the plant that are found in cannabis resin and which help give each strain of marijuana its distinctive fragrance. Over 200 terpenes have been isolated in the cannabis plant to date, and only a small number of those have been studied to find out what pharmacological properties they can bring to the medicinal table. It appears, however, that each terpene is essentially different from one another and each one produces a different effect.

Limonene, for example, is a terpene that has a relaxing effect and gives a citrus aroma to lemons, oranges juniper and rosemary. It also an anti-depressant, anti-bacterial and possesses anti-carcinogenic and anti-fungal benefits. Limonene passes through cell membranes speedily, which enables other terpenes to be absorbed much faster and more effectively. Limonene’s therapeutic uses range from treating bronchitis and cancer to losing unwanted weight.

Linalool is the terpene that has anesthetic and anti-convulsant properties. It also acts as an analgesic (pain reliever) and has been shown to fight anxiety. Linalool is also found in the herb lavender, which is a highly popular oil used in aromatherapy. This terpene was found to have a very calming effect on experimental mice. When tested on the small rodents, their activity declined by 75%.

Caryophyllene is the terpene in your cannabis that gives off a spicy, peppery, clove-like aroma. It is also found in black pepper, cloves and rosemary – what a coincidence! This wonderful terpene has many healing aspects. It is an analgesic and antibacterial; it is also an anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative, which means that it helps prevent the growth of cancer cells. Caryophyllene also relieves anxiety by being a anxiolytic substance along with being neuroprotective, which protects the nervous system and the brain.

Borneol is another interesting cannabis terpene. It has an earthy pine/camphor aroma and is used as a potent pain reliever, antiseptic and bronchodilator, which opens up your lung passages to make breathing easier. Along with also being an anti-inflammatory as well as an antibacterial, Borneol is used as a relaxant and anti-insomnia medication. Borneol is also found in cinnamon and Wormwood and has long been used in Chinese traditional medicine.

Pinene is the terpene that can energize and increase your focus. It’s also an expectorant, a topical antiseptic, a bronchodilator and it’s great for your memory.  Besides being one of the many terpenes in cannabis, Pinene is also found in pine needles, rosemary, sage and eucalyptus among other plants.

Selinene has the fragrance of amber and it is also found in celery seeds. This terpene has antioxidant, analgesic and antifungal properties.

Nerolidol is a terpene that has a subtle fragrance reminiscent of apple, rose and citrus with a touch of a wood-like flavor. It is also found in citronella, citrus peels and ginger. It has been shown to have antifungal properties along with antimalarial effects and antileishmaniasis, which fights leishmaniasis, which is a disease caused by single-celled parasites brought to the skin by sandflies. Nerolidol also has shown to exhibit sedative effects.

We could go on and on and on, but there simply isn’t enough room to go through all of these magnificent terpenes that are found in cannabis. Obviously terpenes present their own unique medical benefits and there are many laboratories that are investigating these very important elements in marijuana. They are doing so with the hope of isolating terpenes even further and pinpointing which cannabis strains contain which terpenes. We are living in an enlightened age of new discoveries as far as the humble marijuana plant is concerned. Brilliant people are exploring cannabis as if it holds the secrets of the medical universe. And perhaps it does. One day we may be able to order terpene pharmaceuticals over the counter, to treat whatever malady we may have.


Cover photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

Terpenes: Intro to Myrcene


Most of us have heard of cannabinoids, those wonderful little chemical compounds in medical marijuana that provide the effects our bodies feel when ingest cannabis. Two famous cannabinoids out of the 85 that have been isolated thus far are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol).

THC, of course, is the psychotropic cannabinoid, the one that gives us the “high” and CBD is the one that is not psychoactive and produces many of the medical benefits we receive from medical marijuana.

Cannabinoids have been talked about and praised for some time but now another constituent element in the cannabis plant is coming out of the closet, so to speak, and is headed for the spotlight: terpenes. These cousins of the more famous cannabinoids are what give marijuana (and a lot of other plants and fruits) their aroma. Over 200 distinct terpenes have been cataloged in the marijuana plant to date and apparently each one has a different function of benefit.

Myrcene is one of the most researched terpenes within the cannabis universe. By the way, myrcene gives off a spicy and clove fragrance and along with the other terpenes, helps keep its host plant healthy by repelling bugs and microbes that could be harmful to it. Myrcene also is a natural therapeutic for humans. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and an anti-depressant and an analgesic (pain reliever). The authors of a study, published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, entitled, Taming THC:Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phycannabinoid-Terpenoid entourage effects, also discovered that myrcene, when combined with CBD can have anti-cancer properties. When myrcene is used with the cannabinoid THC, it was a muscle relaxer, reduced pain and acted as a sedative. When coupled with another compound or component, it is called an entourage effect because both of them working together produce a synergistic effect, which only enhances the therapeutic results that couldn’t have been accomplished by wither one independently.

Myrcene can be found in any number of plants and fruits and grains, and it is definitely in one of the most popular fruits on the planet: the mango. An interesting experiment was done with the mango and cannabis that produced some notable and practical results. It was discovered that if you eat some mango forty-five minutes before smoking your medical marijuana, the psychoactive reaction will be much stronger and more intense and it will occur faster than ever before, another entourage effect in the making.

So, next time you eat a mango or ingest some medical cannabis, remember that each one contains a small but powerful element that has immense medical healing potential and when used together can become even more impressive. Terpenes are just waiting to be studied in depth and when more cannabis research is allowed by our government, we’ll see that these microscopic particles will be of great benefit to humankind.


By: Tad Brunton


Sativa strains have a euphoric effect on people. It increases one’s creativity and stimulates the mind while energizing the urge for physical and mental activity. Sativa is also known to prompt a positive mood and to relieve migraines. It is a good daytime strain that enables you to feel great and wide awake.


Indica strains are known for their evening or nighttime qualities. They have a calming influence and can also act as a mild sedative. Indica can also increase your appetite and give you the munchies as it reduces your anxiety and your pain. Indica is best used at night when you are finished with work and most other physical activity.


These two mainstays of our marijuana culture are pretty easy to tell apart. Physically they are noticeably distinct. If you were to see a mature sativa plant next to a fully-grown indica bush you would recognize a huge difference immediately. The sativa would be Abraham Lincoln standing next to Daniel Radcliffe. Sativa = tall, indica = short. The leaves or ‘hands are also very telling. Sativa’s leaves are like a pianist’s fingers, that is, they are long and slender, while indica’s hands are brick layer’s in that they, the individual leaves, are wide and full. They are what someone’s hands and fingers would look like after manhandling heavy bricks all his life.

Sativa = slender, indica = wide.

Sativa leaf (left) and Indica leaf (right). Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

Indica plants are usually grown indoors and can grow upwards of 3 feet high, and sativas are mostly grown out doors and can reach heights of over 15 feet.

In the late 1700s a French biologist named Jean-Baptiste Lamarck observed that hemp plants from India had an intoxicating effect when smoked. He also noticed that similar hemp plants in Europe had no psychoactive effects no matter how much one smoked them. The European hemp was already named Cannabis sativa so he decided to identify the Indian version, (which he liked much better) by name, so he baptized it cannabis indica. Shortly after that, Mr. Lamarck’s cannabis indica became very popular in western medical circles for its therapeutic benefits.