The Terpenes Wheel Has Many Interesting Spokes

terpines wheel
Terpenes are aromatic oils that provide cannabis plants with distinctive flavors, scents, and medicinal properties. The growing insight into exactly what terpenes are and what they can offer is something that many cannabis lovers will be very interested in. So, let’s take a deeper look at the terpenes topic starting with…

What are Terpenes?

The word “terpene” is now firmly established as part of cannabis terminology. This is thanks to the ever-increasing research and insight into the plant we all love and know. It is also the case that growers, users, and manufacturers alike are realizing that there is a lot more to cannabis than just its cannabinoid content. A simple sniff of the strain you are buying will give you an idea of other therapeutic compounds contained and that will be looked at later in the piece. Terpenes are fragrant oils, they give cannabis strains their aromatic diversity. These oils are secreted in the sticky resin glands of the female cannabis flower, the same glands that produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Those who paid attention during biology lessons will be aware that terpenes are not unique to the cannabis plant. They are found in a wide variety of other herbs, fruits, and plants.

There is a Huge Number of Terpenes in That Wheel…

Just like cannabinoids, terpenes work to bind receptors in the brain and from there give rise to a variety of effects. As there are over 150 terpenes in a cannabis plant we shall not get into each one in turn but some major influences will be looked at. Most of the terpenes in cannabis are present in just trace amounts. However, the more prominent ones team up and that is what gives you their signature scent profiles. Next time you are shopping, keep your nose close to the strain(s) you would like to try, see how it is labeled, and whether you can relate that inviting smell to the flavor of cannabis you choose to smoke. Two popular and distinctive smokes are the combination of the terpenes in Sour Diesel that gives off a pungent, gassy character. Alternatively, try the Cherry Pie hit. It does exactly what it says on the glass jar by evoking the pleasant scent of a freshly baked sweet and sour cherry pie.

Terpenes are not Just There for our Smoking Benefit!

While terpenes provide cannabis strains with their own unique bouquet of scents, they do far more. Diverse functionality in the plant brings into play a whole range of therapeutic as well as mood-altering effects but they also play another highly important role. These naturally occurring compounds are found in the trichomes of female cannabis plants. Trichomes are the sticky translucent glands that cover the buds’ surface. They are also present in much smaller amounts on the leaves and stems. It is these trichomes that contain resin glands to produce terpenes. Terpenes have a major role in the growth and survival of a cannabis plant. They act as health and safety officers for the plant. This is achieved by enhancing the plant’s attractiveness to certain beneficial creatures while warding off others that could do it harm. Along with the mentioned distinctive smells, these organic compounds enrich the color and pigmentation present in the leaves and buds of the plant. A good example of their protective qualities is geraniol. This works to ward off insects or herbivores that just might be tempted to eat the cannabis plant. On the other side of the equation, you have terpinolene and linalool. These terpenes work to attract insects and other tiny creatures that can spread pollen. While there is still a lot to be learned about terpenes it is known that the aromatic compounds support the plant’s complete immune system. This is carried out through the sending of information relating to the surrounding environment and protects the plant from stressors and pathogens. In turn, this helps to trigger immune responses.

Terpenes Amounts Produced Will Vary

There are many factors and variables that are likely to affect the number of terpenes produced by a cannabis plant. Some factors worthy of note relate to whether the plant is grown outdoors or indoors, the amount of light exposure, the temperatures in which the plant is grown, certain growing mediums, nutrient levels, and when harvesting takes place. All of these factors and more will influence terpene levels. Research has also shown that many terpenes are volatile compounds. This means they can easily be lost during the standard extraction processes of cannabis. The good news is that knowledge of the therapeutic value of terpenes is rapidly growing. This is leading to far more sensitive extraction methods being used. A clear example here is live resin. This form of resin is made from freshly frozen cannabis plants. When correctly carried out, freezing temperatures are maintained throughout the extraction process. The result is the protection of terpenes and other volatile compounds found in the plant. This leads to a greater aromatically complex, more flavored cannabis experience. 

Terpenes Will Play an Increasing Role in Cannabis Medicine

There is no secret that the aromatic properties of terpenes have been known for centuries. Humans have long taken advantage of their vibrant scents to produce essential oils. Just ask anyone into aromatherapy how beneficial many terpenes can be. But things are rapidly progressing and the effects of various terpenes now appear to be capable of extending beyond feel-good benefits. This is seen through their identification as a new cannabis medicine frontier. Historically the main focus has been on the therapeutic qualities of cannabinoids (the major ones being THC and CBD). However, with growing knowledge and understanding of terpenes and heavily backed new research it is becoming clear that these powerful aromatic compounds have real medicinal value too. While still in its relative infancy, research is showing that terpenes are set to play an increasingly prominent role in the world of medicine. Here are just 5 examples:


The hunt for new antiviral compounds will never stop. Researchers are now seeing that terpenes could provide strong abilities when it comes to killing viruses. This includes alpha- and beta-pinene, camphor, carvone, and caryophyllene.


The worrying and rising rates of many cancer forms are the driving force behind finding compounds that can suppress cancer. Research has already shown that some terpenes (including those found in cannabis) are exhibiting anti-cancer activity when it comes to inhibiting the growth or activity of cancer cells. One notable example is limonene. It is understood that this terpene works as an effective anticancer and antitumor agent. Other terpenes being closely researched in this arena are pinene, terpinene, camphor, and beta-myrcene. There is also a potential, unique benefit of terpene use, one which is highly important for those being treated for cancer. Use is unlikely to affect healthy cells or cause side effects when compared to today’s invasive cancer treatment methods.


The use of terpenes to treat those suffering from depression is fairly well-advanced. It is estimated that 25% of all antidepressant drugs currently available are formulated using extracts containing terpenes. Among the most commonly used plant extracts in this type of medication are linalool and beta-pinene.


Research already carried out is pointing to the fact that a huge array of terpenes may show antimicrobial activity with the ability to kill or stop harmful microorganisms in their tracks.  Examples here are geraniol, menthol, eucalyptol, alpha-bisabolol, and terpinolene.

Pain relief

Researchers are finding that some of the terpenes in cannabis could mimic cannabinoids to create a pain-relieving effect. Particular terpenes being looked at to promote pain relief include geraniol, linalool, humulene, and β-pinene. Some very encouraging aspects were garnered from a recent study that combined cannabinoids with terpenes. The results showed that pain relief was more effective, there was no increase in any negative side effects, and the terpenes were found to activate CB1 receptors. These receptors form part of the body’s endocannabinoid system and are responsible for influencing pain perception.

The Terpenes Wheel Research is set to Rapidly Role on

As terpenes research continues at a very healthy pace this has to be excellent news for those looking at natural well-being solutions. Whether used independently or in conjunction with cannabinoids this intriguing wheel is sure to keep rolling on at an ever-increasing pace. If you would like to understand more about what the blossoming cannabis industry has to offer please click here for access to a wide variety of interesting cannabis-related articles.