Back to Blog

The Potential Effects of Terpenes in Medical Cannabis

Terpenes are aromatic organic chemicals found in all plants. They determine the scent of many flowers and herbs and are responsible for the taste and flavours of cannabis. Terpenes created in unique combinations are what give plants their fragrance, taste, and appearance. A plant’s terpenes are also a way to protect itself from predators or to attract insects for pollination.

Because terpenes produce vibrant smells, they form the basis of many essential oils and are an integral part of many alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy. Inhaling the scents from some plants and essential oils may affect a person’s mood and stress levels.

Terpenes in Cannabis

With hundreds of fully characterized terpenes, terpenes are the largest group of plant chemicals. While many of these occur in concentrations too low to detect, some have a more robust presence.

Emerging evidence suggests that all plant compounds in cannabis work together synergistically—this is known as the entourage effect and can be thought of as: The whole of all compounds present in cannabis are more together than the sum of its parts. In other words, a special whole-plant synergy occurs when cannabinoids and terpenes are consumed together, as opposed to by themselves.

According to a published article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, well-respected cannabis researcher, Dr. Ethan Russo asserts that terpenes are more effective when consumed along with the main active cannabinoids, THC, and CBD.

The assertion from the scientific community is that THC, CBD, and now terpenes work better consumed collectively as a full dose, rather than in isolates. Together, the cannabinoids add up to greater than the sum of their parts, but alone, their full potential isn’t fully harnessed.

Some examples of well-known cannabis terpenoids include limonene, myrcene, α-pinene, linalool, β-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol.

The top 5 terpenes

While there are many terpenes in the natural world, scientists have only studied a handful. Examples of better-known terpenes include:


Most cannabis cultivars are dominant in either myrcene or caryophyllene. Myrcene, a terpene that’s also predominant in hops and lemongrass, has been described as delivering scent notes that are herbaceous, spicy, earthy, and musky. Myrcene gives cannabis a mildly sweet flavor profile—it’s also found in mangoes.


Caryophyllene, also known as beta-caryophyllene or β-caryophyllene, lends a spicy, peppery bite to some cannabis strains. Caryophyllene is also found in other plants such as cloves, rosemary, oregano, and black pepper.

Caryophyllene is the only known terpene found in cannabis that is believed to bind to the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system, which is found in the body’s immune system. Thanks to this unique action, caryophyllene is sometimes also classed as an atypical cannabinoid.


Limonene is a common terpene that most people can recognize by its scent. As the name suggests, limonene gives the rinds of fruits such as lemons and oranges their citrusy smell.

Limonene is found in the rinds of citrus fruits and ginger, and the terpene is also predominant in many cannabis cultivars that have a fruity, fresh bouquet aroma.


Pinene is another naturally abundant terpene. There are two forms of pinene: a-pinene and b-pinene. Pinene provides the fresh, bright scent of many plants, including pine needles, rosemary, and basil.


Linalool is most abundant in the lavender plant and gives the flower its rich scent. Linalool is one of the more important compounds in aromatherapy and is responsible for the calming effect many people get when smelling lavender or its essential oil. Linalool does appear to act on the body, but researchers must study its effects further to understand how people can use it to benefit their health.

The growing clinical interest in these aromatic compounds is yielding some fascinating findings. It’s likely that the coming years will see a more sophisticated understanding of terpenes develop, and how they behave both individually and synergistically.

If you have questions about our products or services, please reach out to our Client Care Team at 1-844-756-7333 of

Previous Article
Managing Opioid Withdrawal with Cannabis
Opioids, like fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone, are commonly taken to treat pain. But, opioids can be addictive and lead to a fatal overdose when taken in toxic amounts or combined with other substances such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamines. Between 2018 and 2020, construction workers accounted for 1 in 13 opioid toxicity deaths. Unregulated opioids (mainly fentanyl) and unregulated stimulants (cocaine and methamphetamines) directly contributed to the majority of these. Alcohol also contributed to 1 in 5 opioid toxicity deaths among construction workers. Given the risk of opioid toxicity, a common goal for many people is to lower the amount they take or eliminate them altogether.  This goal can be difficult to achieve due to ongoing chronic pain, work and life demands, and symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Support and ongoing follow-up with a medical provider can help. What is opioid withdrawal? Opioid withdrawal can happen when a person whose body is physiologically dependent on opioids slowly or suddenly lowers the amount taken leading to uncomfortable or distressing symptoms. Without an alternative treatment, this may lead to relapse - returning to opioids to find relief. What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal? Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include: ·       Drug craving ·       Restlessness ·       Tremors ·       Nausea and vomiting ·       Insomnia ·       Increased heart rate ·       Sweating How to manage opioid withdrawal? Rather than managing withdrawal alone, appropriate clinical management of opioid withdrawal with a medical professional is important to prevent overdose and relapse. The goal of medical withdrawal management includes relieving sufferings associated with withdrawal, providing appropriate diagnosis and screening, engaging in Opioid Use Disorder treatment and using harm reduction strategies. Medically supervised withdrawal, or detoxification, involves giving medications such as methadone or suboxone to manage the side effects of stopping opioids. Transitioning to follow-up treatment is important to prevent relapse and returning to opioids. Can cannabis help to manage opioid withdrawal? Cannabis is commonly used to treat pain, anxiety, nausea and insomnia. Unlike opioids, it does not depress respiratory function and there have been no documented cases of death due to overdose.  As part of harm reduction strategy, cannabis may help in three ways: 1. Cannabis has the potential to prevent opioid misuse as an analgesic alternative 2. Cannabis may alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms 3. Cannabis may decrease the likelihood of relapse or returning to opioids A 2021 Ontario study with a group of 2315 individuals receiving pharmacological treatment for Opioid Use Disorder found that taking cannabis daily in the past month was associated with lower odds of opioid use compared to occasional use. Further research is needed to understand the impact of cannabis and cannabis use patterns on opioid withdrawal and opioid use disorder treatment to inform tailored recommendations. For more information and resources contact your primary care provider or your local helpline. In Ontario call Connex Ontario at 1-866-531-2600. How should I take cannabis to help manage opioid withdrawal? Book an appointment with a medical cannabis prescriber for personalized recommendations. Book An Appointment References: Gomes T, Iacono A, Kolla G, Nunez E, Leece P, Wang T, Campbell T, Auger C, Boyce N, Doolittle M, Eswaran A, Kitchen S, Murray R, Shearer D, Singh S, Watford J. on behalf of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario and Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Lives lost to opioid toxicity among Ontarians who worked in construction. Toronto, ON: Ontario Drug Policy Research Network; 2022. Rosic T, Kapoor R, Panesar B, Naji L, Chai DB, Sanger N, Marsh DC, Worster A, Thabane L, Samaan Z. The association between cannabis use and outcome in pharmacological treatment for opioid use disorder. Harm Reduct J. 2021 Feb 23;18(1):24. doi: 10.1186/s12954-021-00468-6. PMID: 33622351; PMCID: PMC7903683. Wiese B, Wilson-Poe AR. Emerging Evidence for Cannabis' Role in Opioid Use Disorder. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018 Sep 1;3(1):179-189. doi: 10.1089/can.2018.0022. PMID: 30221197; PMCID: PMC6135562.
Next Article
Have you heard about CBN?
You’ve probably heard all about the two most well-known major cannabinoids, THC and CBD. Meanwhile, the cannabis plant also produces many other minor cannabinoids like CBN (cannabinol). THC appears to break down into CBN over time or with heat, which is why CBN is commonly referred to as “older THC”. For that reason, it’s usually present in high amounts in older cannabis plants.1 CBN has a distinct effect than the other major cannabinoids, THC and CBD. While the research on CBN and sleep remains inconclusive, CBN is believed to be non-intoxicating at therapeutic doses and is gaining more recognition for its 'sedative effect' as a sleep aid and for pain management. This means it slows down the body to relax, which may be done by reducing mental distraction, calming active muscles, or generally enhancing physical comfort. Although THC and CBD have traditionally been the focus of cannabis research, other plant cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids), such as CBN, have unique therapeutic properties that may contribute meaningfully to the “Entourage Effect” of cannabis.3 Pro-Tip: Sleep disturbances are frequently reported as one of the primary reasons for taking medical cannabis, and there is growing interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids to treat sleep disorders. However, many people are concerned about the potency of THC, so they turn to CBD, a non-sedative that is typically used to treat pain and anxiety during the day. CBN may be used as an alternate therapeutic option as it has been anecdotally reported to help in sleep and with a significant lower risk of intoxication. CBN is also being studied for potential uses as an anticonvulsant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agent.1 Although CBN doesn't currently have any known side effects, this doesn't mean that they don't exist. It just means that CBN hasn’t been studied enough to discover them. If you are struggling with sleep disorder, chronic pain or emotional distress and considering CBN, we recommend speaking to a Healthcare practitioner for tailored treatment. Book an Appointment If you have any other questions about our products or services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-844-756-7333 or email us at References: 1) Kendall, D., & Alexander, S.P.H. (2017). Cannabinoid Pharmacology. In Advances in Pharmacology Cannabinoid Pharmacology (80th edition). Academic Press. 2) Adapted from, Rudaz, S., Veuthey, J., & Christen, P. (2005). Extraction and analysis of different cannabis samples by headspace solid-phase microextraction combined with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Journal of Separation Science, 28, 2293-2300. 3) Russo, E.B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7): 1344–1364