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What's that smell?? Oh, It's the Terpenes!

Ever wonder what creates an aroma?? Why does each wine have a fragrance to it, soaps have unique smells? Ever wonder why each cannabis strain can have a different effect? Why each time you smoke something different you feel different? Why does some weed smell sweet, citrusy, and fruity while others smell funky, skunky and cheesy? The answer? Terpenes! Terpenes cause everything to have its own unique scent. They are what gives flowers their smell, spices their flavor, and weed strains their own personality. We are just now re-learning what our ancestors knew millennia ago, but we're learning it with a scientific approach. Continue reading on to learn more about Terpenes or scroll down to the TLDR to get a quick summary on how it can help when buying new strains.


Definition of Terpenes: any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants. They are based on a cyclic molecule having the formula C10H16. There are an estimated 55,000 chemical entities of terpenes.


Biologically: Terpenes are a major biosynthetic building block and primary constituents of essential oils. They are used by a variety of plants and animals to help with a variety of different functions from communication to dictating growth patterns, to defense and procreation.


Applications: Many terpenes have been shown to have pharmacological effects, although most studies are from laboratory research and clinical research in humans is preliminary. Terpenes have been used traditionally in medicines around the world, such as aromatherapy. Terpenes are prevalent in Marijuana and have been hypothesized to modulate the medicinal and/or psychological effects of cannabinoids. This is often referred to as the “Entourage Effect


Terpenes in Cannabis

Myrcene - Smells earthy, musky, clove-like, fruity, grape-like. Found in Mangos, hops, lemongrass, typme, and guava melon. Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis.

Limonene - Smells citrusy, lemon-like. Found in Citrus fruits. Second most abundant terpene.

Linalool - Smells spicy and floral. Found in lavender, mint, cinnamon and coriander. Strong sedative relaxing properties.

Caryophyllene - Smells spicy, peppery. Found in black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, basil and rosemary. Binds to CB2 receptors which makes it an ingredient in anti-inflammatory topicals and dreams.

Pinene - Smells like pine. Found in Rosemary, orange peels, basil, parsley and pine trees. Helps in inflammation but primarily beneficial to airflow and respiratory functions. Said to help memory loss related to THC.

Humulene - Smells earthy, woody and spicy notes. Found in cloves, sage, and black pepper. Research points to humulene being anti-proliferative, meaning it prevents cancer cell growth. Helps with inflammation, pain, and fights bacterial infections.

Nerolidol - Smells like a mix of rose, citrus and apples, woody, citrus and floral. Secondary terpenes found in flowers like jasmine, lemongrass and tea tree oil.

Carene - Smells like a cypress tree. Found in rosemary, basil, bell peppers, cedar and pine. Known to help heal bones. Beneficial for osteoporosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Stimulates memory and helps with memory retention.

Borneol - Smells herbal and minty. Can be found in rosemary, mint and camphor. Natural insect repellent. One study found that it helped kill breast cancer cells. Widely used in traditional Chinese medicine like acupuncture.

Terpineol - Smells floral like lilacs, apple blossom and a hint of citrus. Tastes like anise and mint. Heavily relaxes, commonly guilty for the ‘couch lock’ effect.

Faresene - Smells similar to the green apple skin. Can be found in apple skin, sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli, hops, ginger, turmeric, potatoes, gardenias, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, and myrrh. Commonly used for its calming and sedative effects.


Science is just beginning to learn more about these amazing terpenes and are discovering more every day. Favorite/Star/Bookmark our blog site to learn more about the amazing plant that is Cannabis and all of the different things it has to offer us. As well as finding out details, specials and events that are going on at Western Oregon Dispensary.


TLDR Version Terpenes are what gives each strain its unique smell and contributes to its unique effect. "The nose knows" has been a saying that means your body can tell from smelling a jar if you're going to like what is in it. This isn't 100% true and accurate but it is a good rule to work from when discovering new strains. Having a knowledge of terpenes helps you to understand what your nose knows. Do you know what your favorite Terpenes are? Let us know!



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