Cannabis, especially medical-grade, can showcase a variety of odors – from sweet citrus to horrifyingly funky skunk. All of these odors and much of the accompanying flavor comes from molecules of specialized isoprenoids, or Terpenes (TUR-peenz). Terpenes do much more than stink, however. Some terpenes, like β Caryophyllene, are able to interact with your body and mind and can have profound effects from stress relief to anti-tumor properties. Some of the terpenes found in medical cannabis are rarely found in such high concentrations in nature, giving medical cannabis yet another unique healing property. These terpenes also interact synergistically with the cannabinoids in medical marijuana, creating unique properties and compounds that may never be replicated by commercial medicine.

There are tons of terpenes out there, but we will discuss some of our favorites here today.


Limonene is a fairly common compound,  responsible for the lemony-citrus scent present most often in sativa-dominant strains. Limonene has been used in the treatment of depression and anxiety, and also helps other compounds absorb into your body.

α Pinene

Alpha and Beta Pinene are fantastic both anti-inflammatory agents. They are also the cause of the Pine Tree smell present in many strains.


Myrcene isn’t a particularly lovely smell, but it does have anti-cancer properties. Usually expressed as earthy musk, but sometimes comes out as a skunky smell. Presence of high concentrations of myrcene is also said to create a very laid-back, sedative effect. Often found in mangos, lemongrass, and thyme.


An earthy, spicy, peppery terpene. Caryophyllene is a pain reliever and reduces inflammation – a perfect combination for arthritis or muscular issues.


Humulene is named after “humulus lupulus”, or common hops. It smells like a good IPA. Humulene is said to have anti-tumor, strong anti-inflammatory, and appetite suppressant effects.


Lavender and floral smells are most often created by a combination of Linalool and other minor terpenes. Lavender has been used in aromatherapy for ages, and it’s no secret that Linalool is the main reason why. Proven to reduce stress and anxiety and also used as an anti-epileptic.

Active Terpenes in Cannabis