How Do Terpenes Affect Cannabis Strains?

mycerene, one of the five most common cannabis terpenes, has an affect on cannabis and may have an affect on the body

When most people talk about cannabis strains, they categorize them according to indica vs. sativa or by THC percentages. But there’s another important thing that people often overlook when it comes to cannabis product: terpene.

A terpene is defined by Weedmaps as “a large class of hydrocarbon compounds constructed from five-carbon isoprene units that are combined to produce a great variety of skeletons.” They’re one more thing that impacts how a strain of cannabis develops. While terpenes are found in other plants, the way they interact with cannabis is unique.

As Leafly points out, a deeper understanding of terpenes can lead to a better appreciation of a product, and a deepened understanding of what you should look for when you purchase cannabis.


Those who do know about terpenes usually understand that they’re the cause of cannabis strains’ distinctive scents and flavors. In fact, terpene types are often named according to scent: pinene, for example, smells like pine.

Many customers often request certain “flavors” for their strains, but that’s where their understanding of terpenes ends. In fact, terpenes can affect much more than the taste or smell of the product.


How terpenes affect the body is still being studied, but in our opinion, terpenes play a big part in how your body reacts to products.

Certain types of terpene, like Myrcene, are often found in more relaxing strains. Terpinolene is found in more uplifting strains. Terpenes can be just as important as the “indica vs sativa” method of determining what a strain will do to you.

The differences that terpenes lend are often more subtle, but these differences add depth. Since there are almost unlimited combinations, the possibilities are much more open than traditional ways of categorizing cannabis.


As Weedmaps points out, how terpenes turn out depends on several factors. Budtenders who grow indoors, for example, can have more control over how a terpene expresses itself.

Buds also need to be harvested at the right time to get the full effect. Harvesting too early may cut them off from reaching full maturity while harvesting too late can decrease the potency of the strain.

Finally, temperature plays a big part in terpene development. Things need to be kept sufficiently cool in order for the product to reach its full potential.

Common Terpenes

Now that you understand what terpenes do, how they affect cannabis strains, and how terpenes affect the body, what sorts of terpenes are there? Here are the most common types to look out for.

  • Myrcene is probably the most common commercially available terpene. Also found in thyme and lemongrass, this type has a more herbal scent and is believed to have calming effects.
  • Pinene is less common in commercial spaces, but is the most common terpene in the natural world. Found in plants like rosemary and basil and its namesake’s trees, this terpene has a pine scent and is useful in treating pain and inflammation.
  • Caryophyllene is the only known terpene that is also a cannabinoid. This type has a more peppery, spicy flavor and is said to be effective in calming anxiety and stress.
  • Limonene is found in both lemon and orange rinds, as well as plants like juniper and peppermint. With a citrus flavor, this type of terpene is thought to provide an elevated mood.
  • Terpinolene is slightly less common than the others, found in things like lilacs and nutmeg. This type of terpene has more floral notes in it and has more uplifting effects.

These are, of course, not the only terpenes available. Other types such as humulene, ocimene, and linalool may also be available, although they are less common than the five listed above.

How do I find the right strain for me?

With these terpenes, it can make choosing a product overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Ask any of our seasoned budtenders, and we’ll be able to help you find the strain that you’re looking for.

Wayne Releaf is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. We proudly serve Wayne County and surrounding Washtenaw and Oakland counties.

Visit our dispensary and our team will help you select the perfect product.

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