What Are Terpenes? Your Guide to Natural Terpenes and Terpenoids

What are terpenes? A look at natural terpenes and terpenoids

What are terpenes? We'll answer that question and take a look at different natural terpenes and terpenoids.


Ever wondered where that soothing scent of cannabis comes from? Or how different CBD products have unique flavors, each promising a distinctive effect?

These are all thanks to the natural terpenes and terpenoids found in the cannabis plant. But what are terpenes? Stay with us because in this article we are going to explain what natural terpenes are, explore the differences between terpenes and terpenoids and take a look at the entourage effect. Finally, we will introduce you to some of the most common natural terpenes and their properties.

So What Are Terpenes?

You might have heard about terpenes from cannabis enthusiasts or the booming market of CBD products. That is because cannabis contains a vast variety of terpenes. But cannabis plants are not the only source of natural terpenes. In fact, natural terpenes can be found in most plants, from trees and flowers to fruits, herbs, and vegetables.

Terpenes and terpenoids are organic compounds, giving plants their unique tastes and aromas. By now we know about the existence of more than 50,000 natural terpenes and scientists are discovering more about them with each passing day.

We have incorporated terpenes in our daily lives in the form of essential oils used for aromatherapy, fragrances, and now… CBD.

Scientifically speaking, terpenes are secondary metabolites. Other than giving plants like lavender, orange, berry, and pine their characteristic scent and flavor, terpenes have certain biological roles, the most important one being their defensive role. Natural terpenes act as repellers, driving harmful animals and herbivores away from plants while attracting beneficial insects like bees for pollination. Terpenes can also help damaged plants recover by boosting their immunity. So it’s safe to assume that they might be able to do the same in humans.

An easy way for you to get these natural terpenes is through CBD products. Scientists have found more than 100 terpenes in cannabis and each strain is defined by a certain set of terpenes. Research is starting to show that apart from their other roles, terpenes may have therapeutical properties as well. While some cannabis strains might increase focus, other strains with a different set of terpenes might relieve stress.

With studies showing the potential of terpenes as alternative medicine, it’s good to learn as much as we can about them.

Difference Between Terpenes and Terpenoids

With the advance of science and CBD market, you’ll hear the term “terpenes” a lot. But another word you might hear is “terpenoids”. Most people use the terms terpenes and terpenoids interchangeably, not knowing that these two are different.

Terpenes and terpenoids are both organic chemical compounds, but terpenoids are a result of chemical alterations.  Terpenes are the original form in the living plants. These natural terpenes are simple hydrocarbons made of carbon and hydrogen atoms. The process of drying and curing plants such as cannabis affects their oxygen content. An oxidation reaction occurs and terpenes become terpenoids. These terpenoids now have oxidized methyl groups and other functional groups. While natural terpenes and terpenoids are chemically different, their properties are the same.

The Entourage Effect

When you are using CBD oil, cream, or any other cannabis-derived product, you are looking for a certain effect. What if you could enhance that effect? Based on the entourage effect, you can do exactly that.

See…terpenes not only provide a special aroma and pungency, but they also play a big role in creating this effect. Basically, the entourage effect says that with the right combination of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other cannabis compounds, you can improve the resulting effects. So for instance, while you might choose a CBD isolate for personal reasons, a full-spectrum CBD oil with the right blend of natural terpenes and terpenoids can do much more. Some studies back this up by showing fewer side effects in people with epileptic seizures who took full-spectrum CBDs compared to the ones who used it in its pure form.

On the other hand, some terpenes and terpenoids might suppress the effects of cannabinoids. Studies suggest that terpenes can reduce the toxic effects of THC while increasing the medicinal values of cannabis.

So it’s good to be mindful of the entourage effect when making your next CBD purchase.

Different Types of Natural Terpenes 

Now that you’ve gotten an answer to the question “what are terpenes?” it’s time to take a look at different types of natural terpenes and terpenoids found in plants, specifically in cannabis.

Like we mentioned before, there are more than 100 natural terpenes in different strains of the cannabis plant. These terpenes are produced in the trichomes on the surface of the plant. Trichomes are also responsible for producing cannabinoids like CBD and THC, and different conditions such as light exposure, climate, soil type, and fertilizers can affect their productivity.

There are also factors that lead to various types of terpenes. One of these factors is the terpene synthases enzyme that produces terpenes with different structures, hence different effects.

Cannabis strains each have their own set of natural terpenes and terpenoids with unique aromas. Some terpenes are more common while other terpenes are in rare strains. Here is a list of the most common terpenes in cannabis.

Taking a look at different natural terpenes and terpenoids while answering the question “what are terpenes?”


Myrcene is the most common type of natural terpenes found in cannabis. This means that most cannabis strains used for extracting CBD products contain myrcene.

Myrcene gives cannabis its earthy flavor and can be found in the Blue Dream and Mango Kush strains. Other plants containing myrcene include basil, thyme, hops, lemongrass, and mangoes.

Studies show that myrcene has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimutagenic, and sedative effects.


Limonene is the second most abundant terpene on earth after Alpha Pinene and it’s used in household cleaning products.

This terpene gives the signature scent to citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, grapefruits, and lemons and can be found in uplifting and energizing cannabis strains like Super Lemon Haze.

Studies show that limonene has anti-inflammatory, energizing, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.


Beta-Caryophyllene is the second most common terpene in cannabis.

This terpene has a spicy aroma and it can be found in black pepper, cloves, hops, rosemary, and cinnamon. One cannabis strain rich in Beta-Caryophyllene is Super Silver Haze.

Studies show that Beta-Caryophyllene has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Scientists believe that this terpene can be a potential treatment for long-term chronic pain.


Ocimene is one of the natural terpenes acting as an insecticide and repelling harmful insects.

It has a strong sweet and floral scent and can be found in basil, lavender, orchid, mint, kumquat, bergamot, and mango.

Studies show that Ocimene has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, and uplifting effects.


Linalool is most famously found in lavender, giving it a strong floral aroma, perfect for perfumes and aromatherapy. Other plants with linalool include coriander, jasmine, rose, bergamot, and rosewood. Amnesia Haze is one of the cannabis strains with this terpene.

Studies show that Linalool has anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-hyperlipidemic, antimicrobial, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety effects.


Pinene is one of the most abundant natural terpenes on earth and has two forms. One is alpha-pinene with a pine-like aroma and the other is beta-pinene with a dill-like aroma.

Overall, pinene is most famous for its piney scent and is dominant in conifer trees, rosemary, dill, and basil. Cannabis strains with pinene include Chemdawg and Strawberry Cough.

Studies show that pinene has anti-inflammatory and restorative properties.

These are just some of the terpenes in the vast collection of natural terpenes and terpenoids and there is a lot more we still don’t know about them. From what we do now…they are pretty incredible compounds!

In Conclusion

So what are terpenes? Something you want to keep in your daily lives because of all their potential health benefits. You can get your dose of natural terpenes by consuming various fruits and vegetables. For a more convenient way, you can turn to CBD and try one of Silver Tuna’s terpene-rich CBD products.

Let us know in the comments what your take is on terpenes and terpenoids and share this article with your friends to educate more people about the effects of terpenes.



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