Introduction to Terpenes in Medicinal Cannabis Oil

Introduction to Terpenes in Medicinal Cannabis Oil


Introducing the unique roles and properties of cannabis terpenes

It is widely understood that the primary active ingredients in botanical remedies can be enhanced through interaction with secondary compounds. Some secondary compounds create a synergy that elevates the overall effectiveness of the remedy, while others aid in mitigating potentially negative side effects. This is called an entourage effect.

Scientific research has shown that this principle can also apply to cannabis. Certain secondary compounds already naturally occurring in cannabis, such as terpenes, can enhance the beneficial effects of the ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), those which are primarily prescribed for treating illnesses.

Studies have proven that terpenes display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts.

What are Terpenes and Terpenoids? 

Terpenes are a class of organic compounds (hydrocarbons) produced by a variety of plants (see a complete definition here). Each cannabis plant may contain dozens of terpenes. The unique combination of different terpenes helps distinguish one cannabis strain from another and can vary with changes to the soil and/or the temperature in which it is cultivated. The individual set of terpenes present in each strain can offer a unique set of benefits ranging from increased circulation and enhanced neurological functions to altered cell permeability. In addition, it’s the terpenes that give cannabis its scent and flavor.

Recently, the terms terpene and terpenoid have come to be used interchangeably. However, there are technical differences: Terpenoids are terpenes that contain additional functional groups. Terpenoids may refer to terpenes that have been chemically modified to produce a desired effect.

Cannabis oil terpenoids are believed to increase cerebral blood flow and cortical activity, reduce respiratory pathogens and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

Common Cannabis Oil Terpenes

These are the most widely understood terpenes that exist in cannabis and also among the most commonly used in integrative medicine:


  • Smell/Flavor: Menthol, pine

  • Properties: Found in cinnamon and wormwood

  • Effects: Sedative

  • Conditions: Fatigue, stress


  • Smell/Flavor: Spicy, sweet, clove, peppery

  • Properties: Used in topical clove oil

  • Effects: Anti-inflammatory, analgesic

  • Conditions: Potassium ion channel disorders


  • Smell/Flavor: Minty, spicy

  • Properties: Found in rosemary and eucalyptus

  • Effects: Brain stimulation

  • Conditions: Neurological deficiencies


  • Smell/Flavor: Sweet, pine, cedar

  • Properties: Found in rosemary as well as pine and cedar resin

  • Effects: Dehydration of excess liquid in eyes, ears and throat, reduced menstrual flow rate

  • Conditions: Otolaryngological disorders, menstrual disorders


  • Smell/Flavor: Citrus, rosemary, juniper, peppermint

  • Properties: Found in the rinds of many citrus fruits

  • Effects: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-depressant, anti-carcinogen

  • Conditions: Infection, depression, cancer


  • Smell/Flavor: Floral, citrus, candied spice

  • Properties: Found in lavender

  • Effects: Anti-anxiety, sedative

  • Conditions: Anxiety disorders, insomnia


  • Smell/Flavor: Clove, citrus, mango, mint, hops

  • Properties: An abundant terpene in cannabis that is often used in the perfume industry

  • Effects: Antimicrobial, antiseptic, analgesic antioxidant, anti-carcinogen, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxing

  • Conditions: infection, heart conditions, depression, muscle and joint issues


  • Smell/Flavor: Pine needles, rosemary, dill, parsley, basil, hops

  • Properties: A major component of turpentine

  • Effects: Mental focus, expectorant, bronchodilator, topical antiseptic

  • Conditions: ADHD, asthma


  • Smell/Flavor: Mint, rosemary, candy

  • Properties: Can be damaging to the liver in high quantities

  • Effects: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor

  • Conditions: Alzheimer’s


  • Smell/Flavor: Floral, lilac, citrus, apple, orange, lime

  • Properties: Used in perfumes and soaps for fragrance

  • Effects: Sedative

  • Conditions: Insomnia, anxiety, stress

Preserving Cannabis Terpenes in the Production of Cannabis Extracts

The many benefits provided by the entourage effect can be lost during processing of the cannabis plant if diligent care is not taken. Constance Therapeutics takes extreme measures to ensure high concentrations of the many beneficial compounds extracted from the various parts of the plant are preserved in the final product. In fact, the presence of terpenes is one reason why many of our patient-members find that our medicinal cannabis extracts actually taste so good.

Continue browsing our blog and knowledge center to learn more, or contact us today to discuss your California doctor’s recommendation for incorporating cannabis oils in treating your medical condition.