What Are Terpenes and What Do They Do in the Human Body?

Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds found mostly in plants and sometimes in animals. This includes citrus fruits and aromatic herbs such as sage and thyme. These chemical compounds are responsible for the different flavors, aromas, and colors found in various vegetations. Cannabis plants have a good terpene profile and this compound is what makes various strains have different smells and tastes. But what exactly do terpenes do in the human body?

What Do Terpenes Do?

In plants, terpenes have protective properties. They help to protect the plants from predators and harsh weather. However, scientists are still doing more research studies to determine the classification of terpenes and predict their effects on the human body. The current hypothesis indicates that the terpene profile works very well with other cannabinoids including THC and CBD. This creates a blend that provides the body with potent effects

The Benefits of Terpenes

The benefits of terpenes depend on the type. There are several types of terpenes in the natural world even though scientists have studied only a handful. The most common types of terpenes and their benefits include:


This is the most common type of terpene and its easily recognizable by its scent. Limonene has a citrusy smell that resembles that of oranges and lemons. The use of this terpene can provide the body with the following therapeutic benefits:

  • Antiviral and antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antidiabetic
  • Antitumor and anticancer

The effectiveness of limonene in enhancing wellness is due to its effectiveness in modulating the way immune cells behave. This makes it effective in protecting the body against common disorders.


This organic compound has two isomers and you can therefore find it in the form of a-pinene and b-pinene. It’s found in abundance in cannabis plants and has a fresh scent that many plants normally possess. The use of Pinene goes back to the Japanese traditional therapy that involves “forest bathing”. Pinene has several potential health benefits including:

  • Antiviral and antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Easing pain and promoting relaxation
  • Aiding respiratory and memory function


Its commonly known for its strong antibiotic properties. Besides that, myrcene is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight and eliminate free damaging radicals from the body. Its usually found in plenty of plants such as thyme, hops, and lemongrass. Besides that, the cannabis plant also has a reasonable amount of this terpene.

Due to its oxidative properties, it can help to shield the brain from damage caused by stroke. Besides that, its anti-inflammatory properties make it a suitable alternative source of medicine for various heart issues. The therapeutic properties of myrcene include:

  • Anti-inflammatory and antibiotic
  • Sedative
  • Analgesic
  • Antimutagenic


It’s a prominent compound in the modern biomedical field. Humulene is one of the key components of the hop plant but you can also find it in plenty in ginger and clove. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it great in handling allergic reactions including managing asthma.

Besides that, it’s quite protective in some cells and that’s why it can prevent the body from developing cancer. However, there is still a need for more research studies to back up the current claims. It’s said that Humulene possesses the following properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Appetite-suppressant
  • Antibacterial


Cannabis Terpenes

It’s a naturally occurring terpene that’s found in most flowers as well as spice plants. Linalool is also one of the key ingredients that make essential oils used in cosmetic and skincare formulations. It’s found in abundance in the lavender plant that’s responsible for its scent. Due to its calming effect, this terpene is mostly used in aromatherapy treatments.

This powerful terpene normally has potent effects on the serotonin receptor. That’s why it’s effective in handling mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition to that, it can help you deal with sleeplessness and insomnia. Some of the properties that make linalool stand out include:

  • Anticancer
  • Anti-anxiety and anti-depression
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory

How to Maximize Benefits of Terpenes

If you want to effectively utilize a terpene-rich product, then you should consider the following factors:

  • The product label: Ensure that you can verify the terpene profile and concentration. Generally, the best cannabis products usually contain 3 prevalent terpenes with a concentration of around 2%.
  • Freshness: The concentration of terpenes usually reduces with time. So, make it your goal to look for a product that has a recent package date.
  • Store away from heat sources: It’s quite easy to quickly destroy the terpene profile by exposing the cannabis product to a source of heat. If you are using a product with synthetic terpene, the byproducts of heat would even be more harmful.

Will Terpenes Make Me Get High?

There is a misconception that terpenes could potentially make you feel high. This is because it has certain effects on the brain. However, terpenes don’t have psychoactive properties. Hence it’s impossible for them to make any user feel high.

The only time you can feel high is after taking a cannabis product with more than 0.3% THC content. That’s why it’s important for you to consider your source of terpenes. Generally, marijuana plants usually have extremely high levels of THC content. This means that consuming a marijuana-based product would most likely get you high.

Read More: What Is THC? Everything You Need to Know

The Bottom Line

Terpenes are great compounds that are responsible for giving plants their unique smell. They are mostly found in cannabis plants as well as other types of herbs and fruits. In plants, they have protective properties that help to ensure the plant survives against predators and withstand the different elements of weather.

In humans, terpenes can be used to prevent the development of certain health issues. Alternatively, they can be used to slow down the progression of pre-existing medical conditions. Generally, these compounds provide effective alternative sources of medicine with minimal chances of unwanted side effects. However, there is still a need for more research studies to determine the many types of terpenes and their benefits.

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