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Terpenes: What Are They And Why Should You Grow Them

Posted by Pepper Sloan on

In recent years the cannabis community has been bombarded with a sudden interest in cannabidiol, or CBD. It’s celebrated around the world for its incredible pain-relieving properties, as well as a long list of other medicinal uses.

Stealing the spotlight away from THC, the non-psychoactive CBD has made quite a name for itself. From medical grade isolates to industrial hemp, CBD’s popularity is gaining more traction every day.

However, there’s another and lesser-known component of the cannabis plant that’s proving even more useful to medical cannabis patients.

Terpene Whaaat?

Anyone who has ever smelled cannabis can attest to its distinctive scent and savory flavor profiles.

Terpenes may be responsible for producing the intoxicatingly pungent aromas found in marijuana. But they are not directly accountable for any of the psychoactive effects cannabis is famous for.

Terpenes work in conjunction with various cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant to create what is called the “entourage effect.”

Every strain of cannabis contains its own unique combination of terpenes. These various terpenes can differ slightly from plant to plant.

In all, the cannabis plant is responsible for producing over 100 different types of terpenes! Some terpenes, for example, create a powerful citrus tang while others give off a fresh pine essence. Strains such as, UK Cheese and Big Buddha Cheese contain terpenes that produce a pungent smell reminiscent of - you guessed it - cheese!

Simply put, terpenes are the essential oil of the botanical world and just like essential oils, terpenes come in a wide variety of flavors and scents.

Got chemistry?

Also similar to essential oils, terpenes react differently with each person’s own body chemistry.

According to one school of thought, researchers suspect our attraction to certain strains could be an indicator that the terpenes in it will help to heal our specific ailments. If sexual attraction can be linked to the scent of specific pheromones, could the same be said for the smell of certain plants?

It would seem so.

Cannabis isn’t the only plant with terpenes, though. Many plants, medicinal or otherwise carry these robust scent curators.

Research scientists believe the purpose of terpenes is to act as a naturally occurring insect repellent and botanical disease deterrent.

As nature often does, it has equipped plants with various types of terpenes designed to attract insects for pollination. Terpenes may be nearly invisible to the naked eye but that shouldn’t be a reason to pass on their multifaceted medicinal benefits.

Introduction To Terpenes

Although non-psychoactive on their own, terpenes have a unique relationship with cannabinoids, such as THC. Terpenes finesse brain receptors by influencing how much cannabinoid enters the brain’s pathways. But, not all types of terpenes operate the same way, and their effect can be entirely different from one another.

As easy as it is to grow your own cannabis plants, it would be wise to get to know a few terpenes.

Learning about terpenes can assist in selecting a strain that’s right for you. This information can help decipher dosages, allowing you to medicate correctly and most effectively.

β Caryophyllene

β Caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper, clove, and many other spicy, woody plants.

It’s the only terpene known to interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system directly.

β Caryophyllene is widely recognized as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects agent. But that isn’t all this mighty terp does!

It is also being studied for its positive effect on brain aging. β Caryophyllene has been provided positive results in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease.

Black Pepper essential oil has been known to slow down and possibly repair addiction receptors.

Studies indicate β Caryophyllene may be helpful in the treatment of addictions, such as alcohol. This terpene is most readily found in heavy indica strains such as Girl Scout Cookies and Death Star.

Use your nose to find this terpene and it’s sure to lead you in the right direction.


Borneol is still a bit of a mystery to us.

Scientists are unclear as to precisely what this terpene does. But, what they have found is extremely promising.

The medicinal smell in Borneol is reminiscent of menthol and contains many of the same benefits. Menthol has been used for centuries as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication. Borneol ‘s calming properties make it an excellent sedative

. However, this terpene can also aid with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and PTSD. Borneol promotes mental well being and stress relief.  

According to studies regarding Borneol’s potential effect on breast cancer cells has yielded positive results. Sour Diesel and K12 are two strains testing high in Borneol terpenes and make an excellent choice for combating sickness.


Another lesser-known and often overlooked terpene, Camphene has incredible healing properties that are still being studied.

Even though plants abundant in camphene have been used for centuries in Eastern medicine, researchers haven't scratched the surface of what all this terp does.

If your cannabis smells like a walk through the forest after a rainstorm, it probably has high concentrations of camphene.

Strains heavy in camphene are excellent for topical applications.

In fact, when this mighty, musty terpene is combined with Vitamin C, it works as an antioxidant making it a fabulous choice for cannabis users concerned with anti-aging. Camphene has been proven to soothe eczema, psoriasis, and even psoriatic arthritis.

Camphene can be found in many herbs probably already in your cabinets, such as ginger and nutmeg. Camphene rich herbs have been shown to lower cholesterol and regulate the body’s use of fats.

Easy to grow, camphene is readily found in Strawberry Banana, a strain that’s perfect for those who like to watch their medicine grow. Mendocino Purp and Ghost OG are strains known to contain copious amounts of camphene.


No list of terpenes would be complete without the mother of them all.

Myrcene is the most widely known terpene and also the most prevalent in nature. Myrcene is found in most strains of cannabis and it’s the myrcene concentration that dictates the personality of the strain.

A higher myrcene concentration produces the famous indicacouch lock,” while strains lower in myrcene have more of an energizing effect.

Myrcene can be found in many herbs used in the kitchen too, such as lemongrass and thyme. Those hints of balsamic and spice in your White Widow aren’t in your imagination!

Beer enthusiasts will also be glad to know myrcene is found in hops, one of the main ingredient in beer. Some of the most popular strains touted for their myrcene content are Blue Dream and the beloved, Sour Diesel.

Many people have heard that eating a ripe mango roughly forty-five minutes before medicating increases the “high.”

For many years this story was written off as nothing more than a myth. But scientists have recently discovered a viable connection between the chemical compounds of mango and myrcene.

Cannabis users can now remove this story from the list of urban legendsas it is absolutely correct. Grab a juicy mango about an hour before dosing to increasing the THC’s rate of absorption.


Getting familiar with the various terpenes and their uses can significantly enrich your life.

Famed cannabis activist and author of the Marijuana Grower’s Handbook, Ed Rosenthal once said, “Personal cultivation is crucial. It protects consumers from the possibility, once marijuana is legalized those big corporations will take over the market.”

With that said, in our current political climate and with the rise of commercial cannabis, you may want to consider growing your own medication.

Learning the many nuances of terpenes may just be what flames the spark.

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