Some strains of marijuana have a certain smell. Some smells you enjoy and can make you smile. Others can make your nose wrinkle from the intensity of the aroma. The effects of the aroma can almost seem as intoxication as ingestion of the substance. From light, sweet smells to heavy diesel smells, marijuana aromas are a big part of the smoking experience. Even if you don’t smoke, and use topicals or oils, the aromas play a big role. This is all thanks to terpenes. What are terpenes? This lesser-known compound in cannabis is responsible for the memorable smells in your weed. If you’ve never heard of terpenes, we’ve got you covered. We’ll break down what they are and other cannabis terpene facts.

What are Terpenes? What do they do? 

As previously stated, terpenes are a compound found in cannabis, much like cannabinoids. Terpenes can be found in anything, including herbs, fruits, and some animals. They’re responsible for the aromas, flavors, and even colors associated with various types of vegetation. They play a significant role in the therapeutic and medicinal use of cannabis strains by creating subtle differences in effects across various types. 

In terms of cannabis, terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from one another. 

Common Primary Terpenes


This compound is commonly derived from the resin in pine trees. This may be why it has that wonderful outdoorsy, earthy aroma. As a remedy, it can be used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and bronchial dilator. High amounts of this cannabis terpene exist in Haze Berry, OG Kush, and Blue Dream. 


Similar to the previous terpene, Humulene has an outdoorsy, woodsy scent. This compound has two main medicinal uses. First, as an appetite suppressant. Second, as an anti-inflammatory. Humulene terpenes can be found in strains such as Gelato, Atlantis, and Sour Diesel. 


As the name suggests, this terpene has a bright, citrusy scent. Limonene’s aroma is a mood elevator. It’s uplifting qualities help to reduce anxiety and depression. Another property is as a digestive aid. This compound is found in Wedding Cake, Quantum Kush, and Berry White. 


Myrcene is a popular cannabis terpene. Although, be prepared if you use a strain of marijuana with this terpene. It’s known to cause an overall body relaxation. Additionally, it has the ability to enhance absorption through the skin. Also, it can increase the number of cannabinoid substances in the brain. With more cannabinoids in the brain, it heightens the sense of euphoria for the user. Myrcene is also a chemical in hops, the major component in beer. This cannabis terpene has an earthy, clove-like scent. Marijuana strains with this terpene include OG Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, and Grape Ape. 

Common Secondary Terpenes


This terpene has a minty aroma and flavor with an unusual underlying metallic tone. Its medicinal qualities include anti-inflammatory and analgesic. You can find Borneal in cannabis strains such as K13-Haze, Golden Haze. and Amnesia Haze. 


This cannabis terpene has floral toners. It gives the user a sense of relaxation and tranquility. It’s mostly used for its sedative and anti-anxiety properties. Additionally, it has medicinal healing qualities, as it is an anti-inflammatory. This terpene can be found in the underlying tones of Sour Diesel and Blue Dream. 


As the name suggests, the aroma of this terpene is a cooling menthol and minty scent. It has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is a secondary component of the cannabis strains Girl Scout Cookies, AC/DC, and Headband. 


This terpene is not as commonly found as the rest. This may have to do with its unique peppery or spicy scent. Although this terpene should be used in small quantities, its medicinal uses include antibacterial and antioxidant properties. One of the main strains it’s found in is Super Silver Haze. 

Health Benefits of Terpenes

Inhaling the scent of certain terpenes in nature has been associated with a boost in emotional well-being. For example, the sweet floral scent of the terpene linalool has a calming sedative effect. Linalool is found in lavender. Similarly, limonene has a mood-elevating effect. Finally, pinene, which is also found in sage and conifers, has been shown to aid in alertness and memory retention. 

Recent studies demonstrate that terpenes also have physical health benefits as well as mental. A study published in the Journal of Toxicological Research showed benefits from the Japanese practice of forest bathing, shinrin-yoku. This is the practice of bathing in a terpene-rich environment. It has potential anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective effects on human health.