Cannabis Terpenes – A Budding Field of Research

Around ten years ago, the first cannabis testing labs opened. Shortly thereafter, it became standard for vendors to supply medical marijuana dispensaries with lab results indicating the THC and CBD percentages of their products. 

In the years since then, the cannabis industry has grown immensely, largely due to the legalization of recreational cannabis. In the past, recreational marijuana users had little choice over what products were available to them, now many of these people have turned into full on connoisseurs. Their neighborhood pot shop carries multiple strains, extracts, and other products. Consumer demand to understand the differences between these products has driven the evolution of lab testing far beyond its primitive roots. 

Laboratories are now able to test for a number of more nuanced factors, undoubtedly the most exciting of which is the presence of terpenes. If you’re a regular at your local cannabis dispensary, you may have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common for commercial manufacturers to include terpene profiles on their packaging as a selling point. 


What the heck are terpenes? 

Terpenes are aromatic oils that are found in all plants. In cannabis, they’re produced alongside cannabinoids like THC and CBD. They are best known for providing scent and taste profiles, which can vary widely from strain to strain. 

Research has also begun to give us some clues about the possible medicinal and psychoactive effects of these organic compounds. The debate of sativa vs indica that used to dominate the discourse at every pot dispensary across the country has largely shifted towards a conversation about the importance of terpenes.


What are the most common terpenes found in cannabis? 

  • Myrcene –  Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in commercial cannabis. It provides an earthy herbal scent. It is also found in lemongrass, mango and thyme. It is believed to cause sleepiness and muscle relaxation. 
  • Caryophyllene – Also found in black pepper, cloves and cinnamon, caryophyllene produces spicy, musky, and pungent notes and is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Limonene – This terpene has a citrusy aroma with hints of floral and herbal scents. It is also found in citrus rinds, rosemary, nutmeg, tea tree, cumin and lilac. It produces uplifting effects and may help alleviate anxiety.
  • Terpinolene – Terpinolene is found in a wide range of cannabis strains. It is most present in strains that smell strongly of citrus.  It is also found in lilacs, nutmeg, and cumin. According to a 2005 study, terpinolene may have antibacterial and antifungal qualities.
  • Humulene – Known for its woody, earthy scent, humulene is also found in the hops. Research has shown that it may help terminate cancer cells when consumed in combination with other terpenes and phytocannabinoids.
  • Ocimene – Ocimene produces a sweet herbal scent. It is also found in peppermint, mango, and parsley. This terpene is an important component of a plant’s defense system, deterring pests and preventing fungal growth.


Where can I learn more?

Stop into our Bellevue marijuana dispensary to chat with our expert budtenders.