In the world of marijuana, psychoactive cannabinoids like THC have traditionally taken the spotlight. Now that the medical marijuana industry is maturing, more consumers have heard of terpenes and the important role they play in marijuana therapy. Terpenes can be used to tailor the medical and mental effects of your chosen cannabis strains.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are secreted by the marijuana flower’s oil-producing glands, usually as a sticky resin. They are a primary component of a cannabis strain’s aroma, and many users can identify a strain based purely on the scent of its terpenes.

Chemically, terpenes are classified as organic hydrocarbons and become terpenoids when oxidized by heat or drying.

Terpenes develop in the marijuana flower over time, reaching peak strength as the plant becomes ready to harvest.

Types of Terpenes and Their Effects

There are many different terpenes, but these are the four most common varieties in many marijuana strains.


Myrcene is present in nearly every strain of marijuana. It has an earthy scent of cloves and musk. It’s an important contributor to the infamous “couch-lock” effect of many Indica varieties.

Mercene is well-studied and has a wide range of effects. By reducing the strength of the blood-to-brain barrier, Mercene helps other chemicals to be absorbed by your body, including THC. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-cancer agent.


Pinene produces a classic pine scent. It is found in pine trees and other conifers, along with balsa trees and some citrus fruits. It’s a highly reactive terpene and tends to combine with other cannabis terpenes to form new varieties.

Pinene is an antiseptic with anti-inflammatory properties and has the ability to reduce airway constriction and loosen mucus. It may also have some anti-cancer properties and has been used for that purpose in Chinese medicine.


Limonene has a distinct citrus scent, making it an important component in many grapefruit varieties of cannabis.

Your body absorbs Limonene very quickly, and Limonene even boosts the absorption rate of other types of terpenes. It’s also a very strong anti-microbial and may have use as an anti-cancer agent.


Linalool has been used as an aromatherapy aid for centuries thanks to its classic lavender scent. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, especially in lungs that have inhaled smoke. Its anti-inflammation properties are so strong it’s even being studied as an Alzheimer’s treatment. It’s also a powerful immune booster.