What Are Terpenoids and What Do They Do?

Dec 18, 2020

What Are Terpenoids and What Do They Do?

Have you ever wondered what's giving your favourite cannabis strain its signature aroma? The sweet, fruity, and botanical blend you love in a Blue Dream or the strong musky and earthy scent of an Afghan Kush comes from terpenes.

In this blog, we'll talk about everything you need to know about terpenes, the difference between terpenes and terpenoids, and the unique role they play in giving you an incredible cannabis experience. 

Let's delve right in!

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give many plants and herbs their signature aroma. Like cannabinoids THC and CBD, terpenes are also produced in the cannabis sativa plant. It gives cannabis strains their distinct flavour and personality.

Terpenes also help plants attract pollinators, ward off potential predators like wild animals foraging for food, and serve as an essential part of the plant's immune system. The development of terpenes in cannabis and other plants are affected by many contributing factors like:

  • Growing location
  • Climate
  • Weather
  • Soil type
  • Plant maturation
  • Cultivation techniques
  • Curing or drying process

There are over a hundred different types of terpenes found in cannabis plants. Each cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile and composition. Some theories suggest that terpenes influence the euphoric or therapeutic effects of various cannabis strains, known as the entourage effect. However, sufficient scientific evidence is required to completely understand the full extent of terpenes’ full effects.

Terpenes vs. Terpenoids

Terpenes and terpenoids are two different things. Terpenes refer to the organic or naturally occurring form of the aromatic compounds present in plants. On the other hand, terpenoids are the oxidized version of terpenes after it goes through processing. In cannabis plants, the transition happens after the drying or curing process.

Types of Terpenes in Cannabis

A cannabis strain’s terpene profile can give you an idea of what to expect in terms of flavour, aroma, vaporizing temperature, and experiential effects. 

Myrcene (Mc)

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in hops, lemongrass, and thyme. It's also the most abundant terpene present in commercial cannabis strains. High-myrcene strains have an intense earthy, musky, and herby aroma reminiscent of cloves and cardamom. 

Studies suggest myrcene promotes relaxing and sedating effects, making them a popular choice for people who want to manage anxiety or sleep problems. A high myrcene content (above 0.5%) results in the well-known "couch-lock" effect, a colloquial term used to describe the powerful sedative effects of classic Indica strains that can make you physically unable to move or locked to the couch quite literally.

Examples of high-myrcene cannabis include: 

Limonene (Lm)

Limonene is a terpene produced in the cannabis flower's resin gland. It is best known for its refreshing citrus scent and is also naturally present in lemon and orange rinds, juniper, rosemary, and peppermint. A 2018 research revealed that limonene has potent antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties. It's also been associated with stress relief and mood enhancement.

Examples of cannabis strains that contain limonene are: 

A pile of orange slices

Terpinolene (Te)

Terpinolene is a terpene almost always present in most cannabis strains, but only trace amounts. It gives cannabis a multifaceted aroma that's piney, botanical, herbaceous with a hint of citrus. This terpene can also be found in lilacs, tea tree, nutmeg, conifers, cumin, and apples. 

Examples of cannabis strains that contain terpinolene are: 

Terpinolene is most commonly found in THC-dominant cannabis strains and has been linked with uplifting and energizing effects.

Pinene (Pe)

As its name suggests, pinene is the terpene that gives particular cannabis strains their piney scent. These aromatic oils are secreted in the trichomes of the cannabis plants. Despite its name, pinene is not limited to pine odours, but can also be found in conifer trees, turpentine, rosemary, dill, basil, and parsley.

Notable cannabis strains with high pinene content are:

Pine needles

Caryophyllene (Cr)

The terpene caryophyllene is abundant among many herbs and spices like black pepper, basil, and oregano. Cannabis strains with caryophyllene in their terpene profile are often described as pungent, spicy, and peppery. It's a terpene that's been lauded for its anti-anxiety and stress-relieving properties. Topical cannabis and salves use cannabis strains with significant caryophyllene content for its soothing aromatic and therapeutic benefits. 

Cannabis strains with high caryophyllene content are:

Linalool (Ln)

Linalool is present in lavender and can be found in 200 other plant species, like birchwood, rose, neroli, and basil. It gives specific cannabis strains a sweet, herbaceous, but spicy aroma. Linalool is also credited for some cannabis strains' ability to ease pain, relax muscles, and reduce anxiety and aggressive behaviours due to its ability to interact with brain chemicals acetylcholine and adenosine.

Below are some examples of linalool-rich cannabis strains:

Purple lavender in a field

Ocimene (Oc)

Ocimene is a terpene that gives cannabis strains a delightfully earthy and citrusy fragrance that can also be experienced when smelling hops, bergamot, parsley, mint, kumquats, and orchid flowers. Some cannabis users report coughing when consuming ocimene-rich strains, which can be attributed to this terpene's decongestant benefits. 

Excellent examples of cannabis strains with ocimene in their terpene profile are:

A 2013 study exploring the potential benefits of ocimene has also found evidence that suggests it may also have reliable anti-fungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties as an essential oil.

Do you want to learn more about terpenes to tailor your next cannabis experience according to your taste or preferred effects? Please shoot us a message. A member of Smokey’s team will be more than happy to help you find the perfect terpene profile for your needs.