What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are compounds that bind with fat to cross the blood-brain barrier. They can be found in flowers, spices, fruits, and vegetables, and are key to the production of essential oils. The role of terpenes in nature is to defend plants from attacks by creatures ranging from tiny fungi, insects, and pests, to large grazing animals. Terpenes determine the taste and aroma of a cultivar.

Common terpenes​ in medical marijuana products

Each terpene has a unique set of properties. Some of the most commonly utilized for medical marijuana patients are linalool for relaxation​, limonene and myrcene for their anti-inflammatory and antiseptic​ properties, and pinene for pain relief.


Effects include stress relief, improved absorption of terpenes and other chemicals, and relief from heartburn and gastric reflux. Limonene also has antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Limonene is added to many everyday items, like cosmetics and cleaning products.


Linalool is known for its soothing effects, noteably reducing stress, lessening anxiety, and relieving depression. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, sedative, and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.

Linalool is found in many flowers and spices, such as lavender and coriander.


Pinene has analgesic (pain-relieving), anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a bronchodilator, meaning that it helps to open airways. Pinene can improve short-term memory.

Pinene is the most common terpene in the natural world.


Properties of caryophyllene include anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-relieving), anti-anxiety, and antidepressant. There is evidence to support that this terpene reduces cravings for alcohol.

Caryophyllene is commonly used in topical medical marijuana products.


Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. Its effects are antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-relieving), sedative, and antimutagenic.

Myrcene is naturally synergistic with THC, and allows cannabinoids to more easily bridge the blood-brain barrier.


Eucalyptol, also called Cineol, has antifungal, analgesic (pain-relieving), and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help with sinus infections, and decreases blood pressure.

Eucalyptol improves cognitive function for those with dementia.


Humulene is used primarily for its analgesic (pain-relieving), anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It is sometimes used as an appetite suppressant.

Humulene shares a chemical formula and similar aroma with β-caryophyllene, but the two differ in structure.

Cannabis-Derived vs.
Botanical-Derived Terpenes

Cannabis-Derived Terpenes

Cannabis-derived terpenes (CDT) are extracted from various cultivars of the cannabis plant.

Pros of Cannabis-Derived Terpenes

  • There are 200+ terpenes in the cannabis plant
  • Different cultivars (strains) have different concentrations of terpenes
  • Cannabinoids (CBD, CBN, THC, etc.) and other components of the cannabis plant, in combination with naturally-occurring terpenes, create the Entourage Effect


Cons of Cannabis-Derived Terpenes

  • Extraction is difficult and inefficient
  • CDT isolates can be very expensive
  • CDT profiles will vary from batch to batch

Botanical-Derived Terpenes

Botanical-derived terpenes (BDT) are extracted from other herbs, spices, flowers, etc.

Pros of Botanical-Derived Terpenes

  • There are 20K+ known terpenes
  • Extraction is more cost effective, and greater availability of non-cannabis plant matter allows for more flexibility to create new terpene combinations
  • More consistent than batch-specific terpenes


Cons of Botanical-Derived Terpenes

  • High-quality BDTs are difficult to find
  • There is a limited number of practitioners with the knowledge and experience to put together individual patient formulations

Supplemental Resources

Medical Marijuana Awareness Webinars

Weekly education events, live from your phone or computer!


Weekly education events, live from your phone or computer!

In-Person Seminars

Free admission. Limited seating.

Medical Marijuana for Anxiety,
Stress, & Pain Management

The Waterfront Inn at Lake Sumter
The Villages, Florida


RSVP to Session A,
9:30AM to Noon

RSVP to Session B,
1:30PM to 4PM

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