Hanging hemp flower. Text says "What are terpenes"

As CBD’s therapeutic effects grow in popularity, so too are the other parts of the hemp plant beyond cannabinoids. Cultivators and manufacturers are starting to shine a spotlight on terpenes. 

What are terpenes, and why do they matter? In this post, we’ll answer those questions and more like, 

  • What are terpenes made of?
  • How do terpenes make you feel?
  • Are terpenes good for you?

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the molecules responsible for the aroma of fruits, flowers, and some animals. You’re likely familiar with many already but may need to learn their names. For example, Limonene gives almost all citrus fruits their acidic, clean-smelling aroma.  

In the most technical terms, terpenes are volatile aromatic hydrocarbons. When a molecule, like a terpene, is volatile, it evaporates at room temperature. It’s only when in a gaseous form that you can smell and to some extent, taste, terpenes. 

What Are Terpenes Made Of?

Terpenes are simple molecules made of building block units called isoprenes. Isoprenes are blocks of five carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms that comprise terpenes. Think of them as the legos that you can build endless combinations with. 

Because isoprenes are present in all terpenes, we classify terpenes by isoprene units. For example, 

  • Monoterpenes contain two isoprene units.
  • Sesquiterpenes contain three isoprene units. 
  • Diterpenes contain four isoprene units. 
  • Etc.

How Are They Different Than CBD? 

Terpenes and cannabinoids, like CBD, are different types of molecules that serve their own functions. 

Cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN all contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. In some way, cannabinoids interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system. Terpenes, not so much. 

Cannabinoids are also primarily found in cannabis and hemp plants. You can find terpenes in many consumer products, including cosmetics, fruits, and more. 

That said, terpenes and cannabinoids often make an effective team. So much so that cultivators have bred cannabis and hemp to produce different terpene profiles. It’s thought that different concentrations of terpenes in cannabis can modulate user experience.

Why Do Terpenes Matter?

As we mentioned, terpenes provide hemp and cannabis’s pleasant aroma and flavor. But, they may also offer some benefits, too.

Research is still inconclusive, but some good studies highlight the benefits of terpenes. 


Beta-myrcene, or Myrcene for short, is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis and hemp products. It’s also commonly found in the skin of mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, and cannabis’s cousin, hops. 

Some of the potential effects of Myrcene include: 

  • Help managing inflammation²
  • Analgesic² (Pain relief)
  • Sedative, especially when mixed with CBD and THC²
  • Muscle relaxation³
  • Anti-osteoarthritic³
  • Neuroprotective³


Beta-caryophyllene, sometimes shortened to Caryophyllene, isn’t generally a dominant terpene but a prevalent secondary terpene, especially behind Myrcene. You can find Caryophyllene in black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, hops, and rosemary. 

Some of the potential effects of Caryophyllene include: 

  • Help managing inflammation³
  • Gastric cytoprotective (the protection of our gastric system from alcohols, acid, base, etc.)²
  • Antinociceptive³ (It may help our brains block out pain.)


Limonene can be a dominant terpene, though it is rare. Generally, Limonene is associated with feeling up and active when consumed with cannabis. You can also find limonene in juniper berries, citrus, and some conifer trees. 

Some of the potential effects of Limonene include:

  • Immunostimulation² 
  • Anxiolytic² (anti-anxiety effects) 
  • Antibacterial²


Terpinolene gets its name from Turpentine, the odorous paint thinner and solvent. You’ll usually find this terpene in hemp cultivars bred to be “sour.” You can also find this terpene in lilacs, nutmeg, cumin, apples, and tea trees. 

Some of the potential benefits of terpinolene include:

  • Antioxidant effects³
  • Sedative effects³


Two types of Pinene show up in hemp cultivars, but we’ll combine them for the sake of this blog post. Pinene is most prevalent in, you guessed it, pine trees. 

Some of the potential benefits of Pinene include:

  • Antibiotic3
  • Bronchodilation2
  • Memory aid2 


Linalool, pronounced lin-a-loo-owl, shows up prominently in lavender, rose, and the mint family. We believe it’s responsible for the relaxing feelings you get when you use lavender-scented products. 

Some of the potential benefits of Linalool include:

  • Sedative2 
  • Burn treatment3
  • Anticonvulsant3
  • Local anesthetic2


Ocimene gets its name from the Greek word for basil. Besides our favorite pesto ingredient, you can also find Ocimene in parsley, mint, kumquats, and hemp. 

Some of the potential benefits of Ocimene include:

  • Anti-fungal5
  • Anti-inflammation6
  • Anti-viral7


Bisabolol is like Linalool in that they are both alcohols and are a pain to pronounce. This sweet-smelling terpene smells like the best part of apples, sugar, and honey. You can find it in sage, the candela tree, and hemp.

Some of Bisabolol’s potential benefits include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Gastroprotective
  • Analgesic


Humulene, previously known as alpha-caryophyllene, is a wonderful terpene. Aside from hemp, you can find Humulene in sage, ginger, and hops. Hops, a member of the cannabacae family, is necessary for making beer! 

One of the potential benefits of humulene is that it exhibits some anti-inflammatory properties.4

How Do Terpenes Make You Feel?

Because terpenes can modulate user experience, they are essential to the entourage effect. The entourage effect is a hypothesis from the 90s that states terpenes may be why users feel energized vs. couch-locked. 

Those curious about the entourage effect should read more from Dr. Ethan Russo. You can find his research paper, Taming THC (2011), here. 

Are Terpenes Good For You?

It’s hard to say if terpenes are good for you, as we can’t make statements based on a few studies. We also won’t make any declarations as this is a CBD website, and we don’t want a strongly-worded letter from the government. 

We will say, though, that terpenes aren’t bad for you. How do we know this? Because terpenes are in just about everything. 

Scented candles? Yup. Oranges? You bet. How about your makeup? Sure enough.

How Sunset Lake CBD Cultivars Compare

Our hemp cultivars contain a wide range of terpenes. Below are our current cultivars and their top three terpenes.

Lifter: myrcene, β-caryophyllene, α-pinene, humulene

Sour Lifter: terpinolene, β-caryophyllene, myrcene, humulene

Hawaiian Haze: myrcene, α-pinene, b-caryophyllene, β-pinene

Sour Hawaiian Haze: myrcene, terpinolene, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene

Suver Haze: myrcene, β-caryophyllene, α-pinene, humulene

Sour Suver Haze: myrcene, terpinolene, β-caryophyllene, humulene

Special Sauce: myrcene, β-caryophyllene, α-pinene, limonene

Super Sour Space Candy: terpinolene, myrcene, β-caryophyllene, humulene

Cherry Abacus: myrcene, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene, β-pinene


  1. Ben-Shabat, S., Fride, E., Sheskin, T., Tamiri, T., Rhee, M. H., Vogel, Z., Bisogno, T., De Petrocellis, L., Di Marzo, V., & Mechoulam, R. (1998). An entourage effect: inactive endogenous fatty acid glycerol esters enhance 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol cannabinoid activity. European journal of pharmacology, 353(1), 23–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0014-2999(98)00392-6
  2. Russo E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
  3. Ahmad, Samoon, and Kevin P. Hill. “The Pharmacodynamics of Cannabis.” Medical Marijuana: A Clinical Handbook, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2021, pp. 264–286.
  4. Fernandes, E. S., Passos, G. F., Medeiros, R., da Cunha, F. M., Ferreira, J., Campos, M. M., Pianowski, L. F., & Calixto, J. B. (2007). Anti-inflammatory effects of compounds alpha-humulene and (-)-trans-caryophyllene isolated from the essential oil of Cordia verbenacea. European journal of pharmacology, 569(3), 228–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.04.059
  5. Cavaleiro, Carlos et al. “Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Angelica major against Candida, Cryptococcus, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species.” Journal of natural medicines vol. 69,2 (2015): 241-8. doi:10.1007/s11418-014-0884-2
  6. Valente, J et al. “Antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Oenanthe crocata L. essential oil.” Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association vol. 62 (2013): 349-54. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2013.08.083
  7. Loizzo, Monica R et al. “Phytochemical analysis and in vitro antiviral activities of the essential oils of seven Lebanon species.” Chemistry & biodiversity vol. 5,3 (2008): 461-70. doi:10.1002/cbdv.200890045