What Are Terpenes?

Share if you care

Of the many (and let’s face it, there are a lot) scientific terms that are thrown around when we talk about CBD, terpenes are among the least discussed, but most interesting organic compounds that link us to the natural world.

You’ve doubtless seen them on labels and in articles about CBD and the Entourage Effect. But what are terpenes? What do they do, and why should you care?

It turns out that not only do terpenes serve an important role, they’re also fun. Why? Because they’re all about smell and taste.

Let’s take a closer look.

Terpenes and Cannabinoids

We typically talk about cannabinoids — molecular compounds found in the cannabis plant, like CBD, CBG, and THC. While THC is psychoactive, meaning that it causes a “high,” CBD and other cannabinoids are not psychoactive. 

Neither are terpenes.

Terpenes coexist with cannabinoids and work with them to impart a host of beneficial effects, but they are a different form of compound altogether.

What Are Terpenes, Anyway?

Terpenes are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. They create the scents of plants, and are especially abundant in cannabis, tea, citrus fruits, and herbs like sage and thyme.

Terpenes are the compounds that give plants their scent.

In nature, terpenes serve important functions for plants. They attract pollinators, repel insects, and warn away grazing animals. 

Humans use terpenes in scents to attract mates, in aromatics to calm or energise ourselves, in topicals to soothe skin and tissues and, of course, in products for taste.

Terpenes are found in high concentration in essential oils — you could say they put the “aroma” in aromatherapy. 

Cannabis is perhaps the most famous source of terpenes, because they’re simply so plentiful within it. There are around 400 known terpenes in the hemp plant. Terpenes are what give cannabis its signature smell and taste. 

Terpenes are found in lavender, bergamot, coriander, black pepper, and eucalyptus. They’re abundant in the aerosols that forests naturally produce. We find terpenes in foods like mangoes, broccoli, apples, and hops.

What Do Terpenes Do?

We know that terpenes are all about smell and taste. But is that all they do?

Terpenes, like cannabinoids, interact with receptors in our endocannabinoid system, as well as other receptors throughout our bodies. The endocannabinoid system is closely integrated with our central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as systems that regulate sleep, digestion, immune function, mood, and more.

In addition, many terpenes are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is the barrier that protects the brain from bacteria, viruses or other alien elements that might find their way into the bloodstream. Since terpenes can cross this barrier, they can deliver therapeutic benefits directly while also protecting the blood-brain barrier.

When combined with cannabinoids, like CBD or CBG, terpenes help to achieve the Entourage Effect — a synergistic process through which the combined elements have an even greater effect than they would on their own. 

Terpenes also help you absorb cannabinoids and other terpenes, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of your CBD experience.

Terpenes have been studied for their impact on inflammation, pain, mood, and more. 

We can benefit from terpenes through smell, by absorbing them through our olfactory and respiratory systems, through taste by absorbing them through the membranes under our tongues, and even through our skin by using them in essential oils and topicals.

Common Terpenes

Let’s look at some of the terpenes found in cannabis that we like to use in our products. Note that we can’t responsibly make definitive claims about what terpenes, cannabinoids or CBD products can or cannot do, because the many robust scientific studies on that subject are all ongoing, and we legally can’t claim that these products “treat” any condition.


You can guess from the name that limonene is abundant in citrus fruits. This terpene is also found in the cannabis plant. 

Many people look to limonene for relief from inflammation and to help with mood.


Here’s another terpene with a self-explanatory moniker. Pinene is found in … pine, but also in plants like eucalyptus and rosemary. It’s even found in orange peels. Picture each of these scents and you’ll probably recognize where pinene might come into play in each.

People have used the pinene terpene in different forms for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. 


This is the terpene you’ll find in chamomile and lavender. It has a bright botanical scent with a spicy flourish. 

Linalool has been studied for its link to muscle pain relief and, as you can guess by its presence in lavender and chamomile, this terpene is found to be very calming.

Caryophyllene (a.k.a. Humulene)

This spicy, peppery terpene is found in ginger, cloves, black pepper, cannabis, hops, and many other plants.

This is another terpene often studied for both anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety potential. 

Terpenes and CBD

Our CBD products deliver terpenes and valuable cannabinoids, like CBD and CBG. In addition, we often create special terpene blends to add to products. We’ll talk about some below.

We mentioned earlier that terpenes can be absorbed by inhaling them, taking them orally, or using them topically in essential oils or creams. Let’s look at a few products for each of these options.

Our CBD + CBG Wellness Tincture features not only CBD and CBG, but also our own proprietary terpene blend and natural antioxidants curcumin and coenzyme Q10.

Another powerful combo of restful cannabinoids and terpenes can be found in our CBD + CBG Morning Capsules. Our formula of focusing terpenes and extended-release caffeine boost these capsules, providing focus and energy without the jitters.

Similarly, our CBD Soft Gel Capsules combine the benefits of CBD with a special terpene blend. 

If you’re looking for targeted relief for sore muscles and joints, our topicals combine the terpene/cannabinoid power of pure, natural CBD with oils from terpene-rich botanicals like black pepper, lavender, and tea tree oil. 

The Last Word on Terpenes

They may have seemed like a mysterious subject before, but we hope we’ve cleared up the questions around what terpenes are and what they do. From delivering wonderful scents to imparting soothing, beneficial effects, terpenes are our botanical buddies.

Look for CBDfx products with special terpene blends, and see what kind of difference terpenes can make for you!

Terpene curious? Give our CBD + CBG Wellness Tincture a spin!