what are terpenes and terpenoids

Terpenes and Terpenoids: What are the Differences?

We’ll admit it, we’ve done  it every time. After getting our hands on a new bottle of cannabis medicine, we pop it open and take a huuuuuuge whiff. Inhaling natural marijuana fumes provides one of the most recognizable odors on the planet. This pungent, piney, aromatic, olfactory overload is unmistakable. Have you ever wondered what causes this intense bouquet?

It’s terpenes and terpenoids; they are the compounds in cannabis that give the plant its unique scent and smell. And while their differences are slight, their contribution to CBD and the medical marijuana movement could be significant.


What are terpenes? What are terpenoids? First off, they’re basically one in the same and many use the terms interchangeably. The difference between terpenes and terpenoids is that terpenes are hydrocarbons. Terpenoids have been altered by oxidation (drying and curing the buds). A simple explanation is that terpenes are wet, terpenoids are dried out.

Secreted in the same glands that produce THC and CBD, terpenes are the flavor and fragrance oils that give cannabis its distinctive odor, such as pine, citrus, and skunk.

Terpenes aren’t unique to the cannabis plant though, they exist throughout the botanical world (in conifers mostly) and are produced by countless plant species. Terpenes are found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Terpenes are also a common ingredient in the human diet and are generally recognized as safe to consume by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Terpenes and terpenoids provide the essential oils of many types of medicinal plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as fragrances in perfumery, and in medicine and alternative medicines such as aromatherapy.

And according to a report by Dr. Ethan Russo in the September, 2001 British Journal of Pharmacology, terpenes are healthy for people as well. The study revealed wide-ranging therapeutic attributes of terpenoids, including several aromatic compounds found in various cannabis strains.



There are over 400 chemical compounds in marijuana, including cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. Each has certain medicinal properties, which combine to contribute to the entourage effects felt in the body and mind.

When you take a full-spectrum hemp oil product, you receive much more than simply CBD. Hemp oil also contains trace cannabinoids, essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, flavonoids, and, of course, terpenes. Different cannabis plants contain hundreds of terpenes in varying combinations. Besides having an impact on aroma and flavor, there is some evidence suggesting that they may also modify cannabis’ effects.

Most importantly, terpenes may offer additional medical value as they mediate our body’s interaction with therapeutic cannabinoids. With their unlimited combinations of synergistic effects, terpenes will likely open up new scientific and medical terrains for cannabis research.

Terpenes have been part of our existence for years as the active ingredient in aromatherapy, so it seems quite logical that when more studies are done, the role of terpenes, in relation to CBD and THC, will grow in importance.


Cannabis Terpenes (Terpenoids)


pinene cannabis terpene

Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Pinene

Aroma: Pine
Effects: Alertness, memory retention, counteracts THC “anxiety”
Also Found In: Pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill


mycrene cannabis terpene


Aroma: Cloves, musk, herbal
Effects: Sedating, relaxing, muscle relaxant
Also Found In: Mango, lemongrass, thyme, hops


limonene cannabis terpene


Aroma: Citrus
Effects: Mood lifter, stress relief, heartburn
Also Found In: Fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint


caryophyllene cannabis terpene


Aroma: Cloves, pepper, oregano, spicy
Effects: N/A
Also Found In: Black pepper, cloves, cotton


linalool cannabis terpene


Aroma: Floral, citrus
Effects: Anxiety relief, stress
Also Found In: Lavender


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