marijuana terpenesDefinition and importance of terpenes in marijuana

Terpenes – subtle plant essences at the heart of the aroma and taste of marijuana. They are what give this plant its characteristic, often intense scent and bring to mind associations of juicy citrus, pine, resin forests, and even sweet ice cream in various flavors. These organic compounds occur in many plants and their importance goes far beyond just taste and smell - they are key elements influencing the interactions of plants with the environment, as well as influencing the human body.

What do we really know about terpenes?

Terpenes are compounds hydrophobic, which constitute a diverse group of organic molecules that are the product of biosynthetic pathways of components such as isoprene. Thanks to their antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and even relaxing properties, terpenes have served humans for centuries as natural remedies.

Terpenes in the context of cannabis

In the context of marijuana, terpenes are like the masters of the orchestra, working closely with cannabinoids such as THC or CBD, creating unique combinations. These combinations affect more than just the general ones smell and taste sensations, but they can also modulate action psychoactive and therapeutic potential this plant. They, following the path called the entourage effect or the entourage effect, enhance or change the effects of cannabinoids, offering a wide range of application possibilities both in medicine and industry.

Variety of terpenes and their impact on the properties of marijuana

The variety of terpenes is staggering - there are hundreds of them, and each has its own unique "identity" and effects. These include compounds such as: myrcene, which is famous for its calming properties, limonene with a refreshing, citrus aroma, or pinene, which gives a feeling of opening the airways. All of these compounds are still being researched for their potential health benefits - from relieving pain, to fighting inflammation, to reducing anxiety symptoms.

The role of terpenes in the plant

cannabis terpenes

The role of terpenes in the interaction of plants in the natural world is as fascinating as their impact on the human body. In the plant and animal world, terpenes often play a role defensive function, repelling pests and pathogens at the same time attracting pollinators, which is crucial for plant reproductive processes. In the case of marijuana, terpenes may also contribute plant immunity to extreme environmental conditions and the fight against diseases.

There is a whole spectrum of potential interactions of terpenes with the human body. They are found not only in marijuana plants, but also in fruits, vegetables and other plants. Terpenes can affect our health by entering our body, e.g. through the respiratory tract. They interact, among others: with the endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in regulating functions such as mood, pain, appetite and sleep.

The effect of terpenes

Learning about terpenes and understanding their action opens new horizons in the field of botany, pharmacology and holistic medicine. Knowing about these compounds also helps understand why some plants, including some strains of marijuana, have a calming effect, while others can stimulate or increase concentration.

The main terpenes found in marijuana


When examining marijuana terpenes, the most common substance you come across is myrcene.

Terpenes are extremely important compounds contained in marijuana. They give it unique scents and influence the experience of using it. Below you will find the main terpenes that can be found in cannabis, their sensory characteristics, physiological effects and potential applications.

MYRCENE – nthe most common terpene in marijuana

myrcene is one of the most common terpenes in marijuana. It is characterized by an earthy, herbal scent with notes of cardamom and cloves. Its effect is considered calming and relaxing.

Research suggests that myrcene may support the treatment of insomnia and pain thanks to its sedative properties. It may also support the absorption of other terpenes and cannabinoids by increasing the permeability of cell barriers.

LIMONENE – a citrus terpene in marijuana


limonene is a terpene with a bright, citrus aroma that resembles the smell of lemon or lime peel. It is known for its mood-enhancing and refreshing properties, as well as its potential antidepressant and anti-anxiety benefits. Moreover, limonene has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which makes it a valuable ingredient in natural cleaning preparations and cosmetics.


PINEN – a terpene responsible for the pine aroma 

Pinien is another terpene present in marijuana that is distinguished by its fresh, pine scent. It is believed to have a bronchodilator effect, which may be helpful for people with respiratory problems such as asthma. Pinene also supports concentration and memory, which makes it an interesting terpene for research in the context of memory disorders.


LINALOOL – sweet floral terpene 

Linalool it has a sweet, floral scent reminiscent of lavender and is associated with reducing nervous tension and anti-stress effects. Potential uses of linalool include the treatment of anxiety and depression, and its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. This terpene is also being studied for its effects on the immune system and possible n-propertieseurprotective.


CARYOPHYLENE – spicy, peppery terpene 

Also known as beta-caryophyllene, it has a spicy, peppery aroma and is the only terpene that binds directly to CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the human body. Thanks to this, it has promising anti-inflammatory properties and may potentially help in the treatment of arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

HUMULEN – woody, herbal notes in hemp

It is also found in marijuana humulene, which shares some of the olfactory characteristics with myrcene, but leans more towards woody and herbal tones. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is used to treat allergies.

Marijuana terpenes – each unique and one of a kind

Each of these terpenes, although found naturally in many other plants, performs specific functions in marijuana and can affect the body in various ways. These effects are intensively studied in the medical context in order to better understand and exploit their therapeutic potential. Moreover, different combinations of terpenes within individual marijuana strains can lead to synergistic effects, significantly modifying the effects of use.

Understanding the mechanisms of action and potential applications of these compounds is crucial not only for marijuana consumers, but also for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries looking for new, natural active ingredients. Terpenes, as components of marijuana, are part of a broader spectrum of research on the impact of this plant on human health and well-being.

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Terpene extraction techniques 

steam distillation of terpenes

Steam distillation of marijuana terpenes

Terpene extraction is the process of separating these valuable compounds from other elements of the plant, e.g. marijuana. Extraction allows the properties of terpenes to be used for both purposes medicalAnd industrial. Extraction techniques must be well thought out to ensure that the structure and properties of the terpenes are preserved. Among the various extraction methods, the most common are steam distillation; extraction using solvents, and supercritical methods.

Steam distillation of terpenes

Steam distillation is one of the oldest and most traditional methods of terpene extraction. This process is based on the use of steam to separate volatile compounds from plant material. In practice, the raw plant mass is placed in a distillation chamber and then hot steam is passed through it. Terpenes, having lower boiling points than other plant components, are converted into gas together with the steam and directed to the cooler, where they are condensed and separated from the water.

Steam distillation is effective at isolating terpenes, but it is not without its drawbacks. The main disadvantage of this method is the potential damage to delicate terpenes due to the high temperature of the steam. Additionally, some terpenes may not distil at standard pressures and temperatures, limiting the possibilities of this technique.

Extraction using solvents

Extraction using solvents

Solvent extraction is another popular method that involves using chemicals to dissolve terpenes and then separating them from the rest of the plant material. Solvents such as butane, propane and ethanol have the ability to extract terpenes from ground marijuana flowers. After filtration, the solvent is evaporated, leaving behind a concentrated terpene-rich extract.

The problem with this method may be that traces of solvent are left in the extract, which is potentially harmful to the health of consumers. To ensure safety, these products must be subjected to rigorous quality tests. Nevertheless, extraction using solvents is efficient and allows obtaining extracts with high potency.

Supercritical methods

Supercritical extraction, often performed using supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2), is a modern method of obtaining terpenes. In this state, CO2 retains the properties of both gas and liquid, which allows it to effectively penetrate plant material and extract terpenes without damaging their structure. After the process is completed, CO2 is recovered and terpenes are released without the presence of solvents, which makes this process very safe and ecological.

However, the equipment required for supercritical extraction is expensive and complex to operate, making this method less accessible than steam distillation or solvent extraction. Despite these obstacles, supercritical extraction is considered the gold standard in producing terpene extracts of the highest quality and purity.

Terpene extraction – summary

Each of the mentioned methods affects the final quality and purity of the obtained terpenes. While traditional methods such as steam distillation may be less effective and subject to the loss of some compounds, modern techniques such as supercritical extraction achieve a high degree of purity with minimal impact on the terpene structure. Therefore, the choice of the appropriate terpene extraction method depends on the goals you want to achieve, technological possibilities and quality standards of the final product.

“Entourage effect” and marijuana terpenes 


The entourage effect, from the French "accompanying effect", is a phenomenon that describes the synergistic effect of chemical compounds found in marijuana, which together affect the human body in a more complex and potentially more beneficial way than either of them alone. This assumption, while still requiring research, has gained popularity among scientists and marijuana users seeking a more complete understanding and potential therapeutic use of the plant.

The importance of the entourage effect in the context of terpenes and cannabinoids

Marijuana contains hundreds of compounds, including cannabinoids such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), as well as a wide range of terpenes that are responsible for the plants' unique aromas and odors. While cannabinoids have been a primary focus of research interest due to their pronounced psychoactive and therapeutic effects, terpenes also play an important role by modulating and enhancing the effects of cannabinoids.

As an entourage effect, terpenes can affect receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating various physiological functions such as mood, pain, appetite, and sleep. Various terpenes can intensify or reduce the effects of cannabinoids on these receptors, as well as affect other systems.eurochemical, resulting in unique therapeutic effects.

Examples of synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids

  • Myrcene is considered a terpene that may increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to cannabinoids, potentially enhancing their psychoactive effects.
  • Limonene has antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. It may support the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids in the treatment of anxiety and improve mood.
  • Caryophyllene, a selective CB2 receptor agonist, may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, which is particularly beneficial when combined with CBD.

Research on the entourage effect

Scientific research on the entourage effect is still in its early stages, but some results are promising. For example, a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (Russo, 2011) suggests that terpenes, by interacting with cannabinoids, may help treat pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression and infection, and may also have anti-cancer properties.

However, the difficulty of studying the entourage effect lies in the complexity of marijuana's plant chemistry and the multitude of compounds that can influence its effects. Moreover, the isolation and analysis of individual terpenes and cannabinoids, and then the study of their interactions, require precise research methods and advanced analytical techniques.

Research conclusions

Although the scientific evidence is promising, there is still a need for further, more detailed research on the entourage effect and its impact on the potential therapeutic properties of marijuana. Nevertheless, the current findings highlight that for both medicine and marijuana users, it is not only the amount of THC or CBD that matters, but also the terpene profile, which can significantly influence the experience and benefits of its use.

Accepting the existence of the entourage effect and a deeper understanding of how terpenes and cannabinoids interact could have important implications for breeders who strive to create marijuana strains with specific characteristics and for producers of marijuana-based products who can better tailor their products to consumer needs.

Medical use of terpenes contained in marijuana 

medical use of terpenes

This section aims to highlight the potential health benefits of terpenes, allowing you to more fully utilize the therapeutic properties of marijuana.

Terpenes and their potential therapeutic properties have long attracted the attention of scientists and physicians. In medical research, they demonstrate a wealth of effects on the human body that can be used to support health and treat various diseases.

Anti-inflammatory effect

Some clinical trials, for example, focus on a terpene known as beta-caryophyllene, which has anti-inflammatory effects by activating CB2 cannabinoid receptors. This activity has attracted researchers' interest in its therapeutic potential in the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been found that beta-caryophyllene can reduce neuroinflammation, which makes it a promising ingredient in the treatment of neurdegenerative.

Analgesic effect

Terpenes such as myrcene and linalool have been identified as having analgesic properties. They are being tested for their ability to relieve pain, especially in chronic cases where standard therapies prove ineffective or cause unwanted side effects. Myrcene, known for its muscle-relaxing effects, can be helpful in the treatment of muscle spasms and pain, while linalool, with its calming effect, can support pain management neurophthalmology and fibromyalgia.

Anti-anxiety effect

Terpenes such as limonene and linalool are also being studied for their potential anti-anxiety properties. They demonstrate the ability to modulate neurtransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in regulating mood and response to stress. Limonene, with its fresh and stimulating citrus aroma, has a particularly strong anti-stress effect. Additionally, linalool, found in lavender, is being studied for its effects in relieving anxiety and promoting healthy sleep.

Antibacterial and antifungal effect

Terpenes also have antiseptic properties that can be used to fight bacterial and fungal infections. Terpinen-4-ol, a component of tea tree oil, is well known for its ability to inhibit the growth of various pathogens. Eucalyptol, found in eucalyptus, also has antibacterial and antifungal activity, which makes it a valuable component in products for disinfection and treatment of skin infections.

Antioxidant effect

Many terpenes, such as alpha-pinene and limonene, also have antioxidant properties that may help protect the body against free radical damage. Research shows that the antioxidant effects of terpenes can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation.

Other potential health benefits

Research on other terpenes, such as bisabolol, which has antioxidant properties, or nerolidol, which has anticancer potential, heralds the possibility of using these compounds in more targeted therapies, e.g. Camphene, known for its anti-inflammatory effects, may provide relief from skin diseases, while humulene, with its appetite-suppressing properties, may be used in the treatment of obesity.

Challenges and the future of research

Although preliminary research shows promising results, it is important to remember the limitations and challenges of terpene research. Further, controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm the effectiveness and safety of terpenes in human treatment. Additionally, identifying the precise mechanisms of action of terpenes within and beyond the endocannabinoid system is crucial to understanding their full therapeutic potential. The development of extraction technologies and the ability to analyze the terpene profile of marijuana plants may in the future lead to the development of more precise treatment methods using individually selected combinations of terpenes.

Based on the discoveries made so far, terpenes are on the verge of widespread use in medicine. As we learn more about their properties and potential, we are witnessing the birth of a new era in phytotherapy, where natural plant compounds will become an important element of innovative health therapies.

Terpenes, although long known as key components of essential oils, have gained new applications in various industries thanks to their extraordinary aromatic and health properties. Their commercial use has spread to the cosmetics and food industries, as well as the production of various essences, making them an invaluable natural ingredient in many products.

Cosmetics industry

terpenes in cosmetics

In the cosmetics industry, terpenes are used mainly for their unique fragrance properties. Each terpene has a specific, often intense aroma that can attract, calm or stimulate. Additionally, they have the ability to influence our mood and emotions, which is used in aromatherapy.

Myrcene is used to produce perfumes with a warm, earthy bouquet, often with sweet, balsamic notes. Limonene, with its fresh and stimulating citrus aroma, is used in refreshing products such as soaps, shower gels and air fresheners. Linalool, present in lavender oil, is valued for its relaxing and calming properties, which is why it often appears in skin care cosmetics and bath products.

Cosmetics with the addition of terpenes are popular not only because of their aroma, but also because of their potential benefits for the skin. As we have mentioned many times, some terpenes have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help treat a variety of skin problems. For example, terpinen-4-ol, the main ingredient of tea tree oil, is used in products intended for the care of acne-prone skin.

Food industry

In the food industry, terpenes are valued mainly as natural flavor and fragrance additives. Thanks to them, food gains a unique sensory profile without the need to use synthetic flavors. Limonene adds citrus freshness to products, myrcene enriches food with herbal, slightly earthy notes, and pinene introduces a forest, fresh accent to dishes.

Terpenes are most often used in the production of drinks, sweets, bakery products and in molecular cuisine, where every detail of taste and smell is crucial for the gastronomic experience. Additionally, the beneficial properties of some terpenes, such as antioxidant activity, may contribute to improving the health value of products.

Production of essences and aromas

terpenes in pharmaceuticals

Terpenes are irreplaceable in the production of essences, constituting the basis for many fragrance compositions. Used in the perfume industry, in creating fragrances for cleaning products, and in aromatherapy. The ability to create a wide range of scents, from fresh and fruity to deep and earthy, opens up a wide range of possibilities for producers to create unique products.

Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industry

Although this is a less obvious use, terpenes also find their place in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, where they are used to produce supplements and medicines. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of some terpenes can be used in preparations supporting the treatment of inflammation or pain. Additionally, their potential antioxidant and anticancer effects make them a valuable ingredient in dietary supplements designed to support overall health.

Challenges and innovations

The development of technology and scientific analysis methods enables an increasingly better understanding of the complex properties of terpenes, which translates into innovations in various industries. The use of ecological and sustainable methods of obtaining them, such as steam distillation or supercritical CO2 extraction, allows us to obtain high-quality products while maintaining environmental responsibility.

As knowledge about terpenes expands, their importance in the commercial industry continues to grow, which indicates their inexhaustible potential for use. As natural plant components, they attract the attention of both consumers and producers who are looking for healthy and natural ingredients for their products.

Frequently asked questions about marijuana terpenes

What exactly are terpenes in marijuana?

Terpenes are natural organic compounds found in plants that give marijuana its unique aroma and taste. In marijuana, terpenes can also influence the effects of the plant, enhancing or modifying its therapeutic properties.

How do terpenes affect the effects of marijuana?

Terpenes can influence the psychoactive effects of marijuana through the so-called entourage effect, which means that they interact with cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) to modulate their effects. This allows them to increase or decrease the potency of marijuana, as well as target specific therapeutic effects.

Do terpenes have medical properties?

Yes, some terpenes have medicinal properties such as anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-anxiety, and even anti-cancer properties. For example, myrcene has a calming effect, and limonene can improve mood.

Can terpenes cause side effects?

Like other natural compounds, terpenes can cause side effects, especially with excessive exposure. These are usually mild reactions such as skin irritation or allergies. It is always recommended to consult a doctor before using terpenes for therapeutic purposes.

What are the most popular terpenes in marijuana and what do they smell like?

The most common terpenes in cannabis are myrcene (earthy, herbal scent), limonene (fresh, citrus scent), pinene (pine scent), linalool (sweet, floral scent), and caryophyllene (spicy, peppery scent).

Are terpenes legal?

Standalone terpenes that do not contain THC are usually legal. The legality of products containing marijuana-derived terpenes depends on the marijuana laws in a given country or region.

How can you use marijuana terpenes?

Marijuana terpenes can be used in aromatherapy, as food or cosmetic additives. For medical uses, they may be part of oils, creams or other preparations for topical use or inhalation.

Does every marijuana strain have the same terpene profile?

No, each marijuana strain has a unique terpene profile that is a result of genetics, growing conditions and processing processes. This means that different varieties can differ significantly in taste, smell and effects.

How can you determine the terpene profile of marijuana?

The terpene profile can be determined through laboratory tests that analyze the chemical composition of marijuana. The results of such tests are sometimes available to consumers, allowing them to select a variety with the desired terpenes.

Is adding terpenes to CBD products beneficial?

Adding terpenes to CBD products can enhance their effects through the entourage effect. Terpenes can also enrich the taste and aroma of a product, making it more pleasant to use.

How long do the effects of terpenes last?

The duration of action of terpenes may vary and depends on many factors, such as the dose, method of use and the body's individual response. However, the effect of terpenes on the body is short-lived in most cases.

Can terpenes affect sleep?

Yes, some terpenes, such as myrcene or linalool, have calming properties that may help you fall asleep or improve the quality of your sleep.

Do all marijuana products contain terpenes?

No, not all marijuana products contain terpenes as they can be degraded during the extraction or heat treatment processes. Products that have had their terpenes restored after the extraction process are often labeled as “reintroduced terpenes”.

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WARNING! In Poland, the law prohibits the cultivation of hemp other than fibrous. This post is not intended to encourage you to break the law. All content related to the cultivation and processing of marijuana is for educational and curiosity purposes only. Currently, more and more countries in the world allow their citizens to grow a marijuana bush for their own use, but Poland is not one of these countries yet.
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