What Are Terpenes And What Do They Do?


The majority of flower consumers are content to know that indica will put you down (in da couch) and sativa will lift you up and help you focus. Most budtenders still rely on the old “Here, smell this gas,” and that approach of customer service still looks to be working for many tokers.

But there’s a lot more to figuring out the perfect herb for you, and a little extra information can go a long way to making a decision. Recent studies have proven that sativa doesn’t always help you focus and that some indicas will actually get you crunk.

Why? Terpenes.

What are Terpenes?

You know ’em, you love ’em, you’d recognize ’em if you smelled ’em—simply because terpenes are the parts of a plant that you can smell. They’re organic chemical compounds produced by plants that carry aromatic or flavonoid properties… Oil you can just call them oils.

While indica and sativa are simple ways to classify cannabis strains, the terpene profile of a plant will tell you precisely what will happen to your body when you get baked.

Eating a mango (which has myrcene) 30 minutes before medicating intensifies your high.

Hybrids are sort of a gray area: generally anything less than a 70:30 ratio— ex. a 60:40 or 50:50 ratio—is considered a non-dominant or well-balanced hybrid.

Terpenes to Remember


Pinene is the most common terpene in all plants, smells like pine needles, helps asthma, and is prominent in Jack Herer and Super Silver Haze. FOCUS.

Linalool smells like spring flowers with a spicy hint, good for anxiety and is also found in lavender! LA Confidential and Haze are full of linalool and in oil form it’s great for burns and acne. RELAXING.

Myrcene is the most prevalent in cannabis, smells like cloves, treats spasms, insomnia, and pain, is found in mango and hops and in strains like White Widow and Pure Kush. SLEEPY.

Limonene is also found in the rinds of citrus fruits, smells like lemon, is found in rosemary and juniper, helps mood and gastrointestinal issues and can be found in OG Kush and Super Lemon Haze. ENERGY.

Beta-caryophyllene is the only terpene that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, smells spicy, is good for anti-inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, is found in black pepper cloves and cotton, and is in strains like Trainwreck. BODY BUZZ.

Terpene Tips

1. Eating a mango (which has myrcene) 30 minutes before smoking weed intensifies your high, while chewing on black pepper (which has beta-carophyllene) will calm you down if you feel like you’ve gotten too high.

2. Limonene has been shown to destroy breast-cancer cells in lab experiments, and its powerful antimicrobial action can kill pathogenic bacteria. (Lemon Kush to save lives, anyone?)

3. Carophyllene is great for inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders because of its ability to bind directly to the peripheral cannabinoid receptor known as CB2; so if you have rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disorder, a high-caropyhyllene strain like Trainwreck would be your jam.

4. If your dispensary doesn’t do terpene profiling, just follow your nose, or find a better dispensary! If you know you need caryophyllene, smell for the pepper. Want a strong sativa? Get that citrus scent in your nostrils. Want to be knocked the fuck out? You want to smell that hoppy beer aroma that you know will make you drowsy. If a strain doesn’t smell good to you, don’t smoke it!