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Terpenes 101: It’s Not Just A Scent

Terpenes 101: It’s Not Just A Scent

If you walk into a dispensary for the first time or talk to any experienced smoker, you’re going to be presented with an abundance of different strains and flavors. Some of the most popular that you’ll eventually run across are:

  • Sour Diesel
  • Northern Lights
  • Lemon Haze
  • Pineapple Express
  • ...and so on

Today, there are literally hundreds of different strains that are either a sativa, indica, or a hybrid of the two. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of smelling some of these wonderful strains, you’ll notice strong aromas of citrus, lavender, cheese, or even earthy/wood notes.

These aromas are far more than just pleasant scents, however. The smell is merely the giveaway for terpenes contained in a given strain of cannabis.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are present in almost every plant. They’re unsaturated hydrocarbons that are found within the trichomes that layer the leaves and flowers of the plants. Trichomes are basically small little droplets of oil. This layer of oil helps to protect the plant from water and other particulate damage, and the scents contained within the terpenes help to deter certain critters.

Check out this amazing close-up of the trichomes on this cannabis flower’s surface!

How Terpenes Can Help You

Ever heard of essential oils?

Whether it’s been through a local herbal shop or your friend who constantly invites you to their network marketing events, essential oils can do a lot of great things for your health such as:

  • Improve sleep quality
  • Accelerate healing
  • Relax the mind and body
  • Energize you
  • ...and more

Here’s the thing, though. The majority of the benefits you’re getting from essential oils are directly caused by the terpenes contained within them.

That brings us to another key point- Terpenes aren’t specific to cannabis. Terpenes are present in almost every plant, and are especially concentrated in evergreen plants and herbs. However, the ones that come from cannabis tend to have the best flavors which makes them a common vape additive.

Using Terpenes

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Well that’s all well and good, but how the heck am I supposed to use a terpene?”

Terpenes are very unique in the fact that you can get the intended effect just by smelling them. If you’ve ever put your nose in a jar of fresh Tangi Kush, and immediately felt a wave of sensations and a light energy boost then you know this.

One of the most common uses of terpenes is in scented colognes and perfumes. Some scents are designed to seduce while others are designed to make people feel upbeat and energetic. The ability to manipulate people based on smell is quite a powerful ability. So powerful, in fact, that many casinos diffuse terpenes to influence gamblers to spend more and make them feel lucky.

The majority of cannabis users utilize terpenes by putting them in their vaporizer, mixing them with their wax or oil, and sometimes even adding a few drops to their herb before smoking. They’ve recently become a very popular additive to CBD oil as they can enhance the medical benefits and because hemp doesn’t produce very strong terpenes itself.

The great thing about terpenes is that you only need a couple of drops to get the desired effect.

Common Terpenes

Now that you have a basic idea of what terpenes are, let’s take a look at some of the most common terpenes…


Myrcene is a very earthy-smelling terpene. It’s present in cloves, mangos, and has a generally musky aroma to it. Some of the common strains you’ll find it in are Agent Orange or Fire Alien Kush. It’s primary purpose is sedation and it’s often used for pain relief and muscle relaxation.


As the name may suggest, Pinene is found in the highest concentrations in pine trees. It has a very sharp woody and herbal scent and works great as a bronchodilator (expands your airways), which makes it great for those suffering from asthma or congestion. It also has a slightly energizing effect as well. Common strains you’ll find with Pinene are Vanilla Kush, 9-pound Hammer, and Lavender Kush.


The name should give this one away as well. Limonene is most common in lemons, limes, and oranges. It has a strong citrus smell, and also has powerful antifungal and antibiotic properties as well. Smelling this terpene can improve your mood and even give you a nice energy boost.

It’s commonly found in Lemon Haze, Tangi Kush, Green Crack, and Girl Scout Cookie Strains.


This one's a bit harder to guess. Linalool is most commonly found in Lavender. It’s known for its sedative effects and its ability to greatly relieve stress and aid in relaxation. It’s most commonly found in Sour Diesel and Bubble Gum Kush strains.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you’ve learned a few useful nuggets of information in this week’s post! As you can see, all of these crazily-named cannabis strains are more than just fancy names. Each strain is designed to produce specific terpenes that give them specific aromas, flavors, medicinal benefits and ultimately improve your smoking experience.

-Contributed by Colin Marshall

Colin Marshall- is a local Charleston entrepreneur and cannabis enthusiast. He’s the head caregiver at Lowcountry CBD Solutions- a small CBD and Hemp Oil shop in the Northwoods Mall. When he’s not at the shop or writing about cannabis, he’s most likely taking a swim out on Folly or hiking the next big mountain trail. Check out his site at www.LowcountryCBDsolutions.com for more info!

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