What Are Terpenes?


What are terpenes? Maybe you’ve heard the term mentioned before. Allow us to explain why are they important, especially to your cannabis experience. This is because they are the natural compounds in marijuana that give each strain or cannabis product it’s unique aromas and flavors.

Terpenes in Plants, Animals and Food

Terpenes are a large and diverse group of fragrance hydrocarbons found in plants, animals, and food. Scientists have identified about 150 terpenes in cannabis alone!

They are the volatile organic molecules secreted by flowers and herbs that shout “visit me!” to bees buzzing in your garden. They are the carriers of the perfect fragrance you catch when hiking through a pine forest. When herbalists tout the power of aromatherapy through “essential oils” like sweet orange, from herbs and plants, they’re talking terpenes.

They are also the carriers of that concentrated scent you inhale when the budtender whips the lid off a container of cannabis at a dispensary. Many terpenes are sticky and odorous to protect the plant that secretes them. Hence, the ubiquitous funky fragrance of cannabis sativa.

However, terpenes can serve as warning signs. The stink in stinkbugs is their terpene reminder to stay away. They also are useful for animals when finding the best foods. For example, squirrels can identify pine trees they want to eat by smelling the tree branches. They select trees with low alpha-pinene because this terpene, with hints of earth and eucalyptus, is a repellant for them.

Lastly, many terpenes can be found in some of your favorite all-natural foods. This includes mangos, apples, citrus fruits, herbs and spices and beer. There is both empirical and anecdotal evidence that terpenes have health benefits. For example, linalool, a terpene also found in lavender, has shown to provide anti-anxiety effects.

Cannabis-Specific Terpenes

Upwards of 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis, and these aromatic compounds can help you distinguish between various strains and their effects. For instance, the terpene myrcene, which smells musky or earthy, is associated with a sedative effect. Myrcene heavy indica strains make you collapse in couch lock.

The citrusy scents of a limonene terpene in a strain, on the other hand, signals an opportunity to brighten your mood. Strains that contain the aptly named pinene are said to boost alertness and memory. Peppery caryophyllales often waft from CBD-heavy strains that can help ease a variety of ailments.

Let terpenes be your guideposts along the cannabis trail. They can help you follow your nose to your preferred destination. Here are some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, including terpenes found in The Clear cannabis oils, which make up our all-natural flavors that are added to our highest quality distillate.

Common Terpenes in Cannabis


Found In

Used For



Lavender, Blueberry

Sleep and relaxation
Anxiety or Pain



Lilac, Nutmeg, Cumin, XJ-13, Golden Goat, Lemon Haze


Piney, floral, herbaceous, citrusy


Pine Trees, Orange Peels, Golden Goat, Lemon Haze




Mango, Hops, Bay leaves, Eucalyptus, Blueberry, OG


Earthy, Fruity, Clove-like


Black Pepper, Cloves, Thai Basil, XJ-13, OG




Hops, Sage, Coriander


Earthy, Hops-like


Lemons, Oranges

Stimulates the Immune System
Gastric Reflux



Rosemary, Lemons, Pines, Golden Goat

Improve bone health

Citrus, cypress aroma


Teak Family of Trees

Coughs and Cold
Pain or Swelling

Camphor, Mint

Sources: Leafly and ‘The Cannabis Prescription’ by Colleen Higgins, R.Ph.

There’s dozens more scents and sensibilities to explore. Just like a honeybee seeking out its favorite terpene-laden flower, you can sidestep confusing strain names. Learn to select cannabis by associating the effect you’re after with the fragrance of the associated terpene.

Key to Your Cannabis Experience

Cannabis terpenes are not just another pretty or putrid smell. The psychoactive properties of the cannabinoid THC, and anti-inflammatory qualities of CBD get much of the credit for the potency and effects of pot. However, there is more emerging evidence for the “entourage effect.” This theory suggests that terpenes enable, enhance or moderate the high—and the health effects—of cannabis.

The landmark study Taming THC was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011. It details how various terpenes can limit the downsides of cannabis. Subsequently, also amplify the benefits. So, if you’re not making terpenes part of your cannabis experience, you’re probably missing out on important information about brain and body benefits.

Which strains work best for you? There’s only one sure way to find out! See if they pass your sniff test.

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