An Introduction to Terpenes for Cannabis Extraction

An Introduction to Terpenes for Cannabis Extraction

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that influence the aromas, flavours, and sometimes colours of plants. Generally, if a plant gives off a strong scent, there are high concentrations of terpenes present. Though cannabis contains high concentrations of terpenes, they are also found in a variety of other plants, like lavender, lemon, rosemary, and pine. These aromatic compounds are often part of the plant’s survival mechanisms, warding off grazing animals or attracting pollinators.

Did you Know?

A recent study by the University of Arizona Health Sciences found that terpenes provide pain relief and supports the entourage effect theory.

To read more, click here.

Cannabis strains have been proven to contain more than 400 types of terpenes, which has caused a lot of intrigue as we continue to learn more about cannabis. While they do not cause inebriation like THC, they have been shown to influence the way THC is processed by the body’s endocannabinoid system, and have also shown promise in helping treat certain medical conditions, though further research is required to validate these initial claims.

Types of Terpenes and Their Effects

The following list contains a sampling of the types of terpenes commonly found in cannabis, the aromas associated with them, and the effects they can potentially produce within the body (this information provided by Beyond Buds).





Earthy – hops, red grapes 

Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibiotic, antimutagenic 



Powerful sedative, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety 



Sedative, anti-depressant 



Focus/mental stimulation, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety 



Antibiotic, antioxidant, antimalarial 


Black pepper 

Mood-lightener, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, cytoprotective 




1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) 


Stimulant, antibiotic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory 



Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, stimulant 




What effect do terpenes have on the human body?

Since terpenes are the chemical compounds often responsible for giving aromatic plants their unique smell, they play an integral role in the practice of aromatherapy. While this is true of terpenes in general, it does little to help us understand the role that terpenes in cannabis play in how the body’s endocannabinoid system processes cannabinoids.

We don’t yet have enough research to support current claims about how terpenes effect the way cannabinoids are processed by the endocannabinoid system. However, scientists are researching whether the dominant terpenes of a cannabis strain may work in tandem with the dominant cannabinoids to produce the effects specific to that strain. This could explain why different cannabis strains with similar cannabinoid contents can cause different experiences.

Terpene Concentration and User Experience

While THC is the main cannabinoid that causes psychoactive effects within the cannabis user, recent research and anecdotal evidence suggests that terpene concentrations can have just as much of an impact on the user experience as the concentrations of other cannabinoids (such as CBD). For example, the terpene myrcene has been associated with increasing porosity within the brain, allowing more THC to be absorbed faster, causing the “high” to set in faster than in strains with lower myrcene concentrations.

Whether you’re consuming cannabis flower, vape products, or edible or concentrate products, terpenes play a major role in the aroma, flavour, and experience provided by your cannabis product. Terpene concentrations are heavily impacted by the cultivation, drying, and extraction processes, and the more we learn about these remarkable compounds found within cannabis strains, the better we can develop products to share the health and recreational benefits this plant has to offer.

How do terpenes influence the extraction process and final product?

Understanding the terpene concentrations in your hemp or cannabis biomass can help you extract distillate that creates a more desirable finished product. Since terpenes heavily influence the aromas and flavours of plants, the terpene concentrations in your raw cannabis can have an effect on the taste and smell of your distillate, which can in turn influence the taste and smell of your edible products or tinctures.

In addition to influencing the smell and taste of your products, terpenes have been shown to interact with THC to influence the psychoactive experience. Some terpenes can induce a more relaxing experience, better for managing stress and anxiety, while others are associated with a more high-energy experience, promoting focus and acuity (learn more about the effects of terpenes here). While there’s still a lot of research needed to understand the effects terpenes have on the body, there’s no doubt that they play an influential role in how you use THC and CBD distillate in your cannabis-infused products.

Types of Terpenes and Their Effects

Terpenes heavily influence the aroma, flavour, and psychoactive effects and health benefits of a cannabis strain.

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