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  • August 23, 2022 4 min read


    You can easily tell the smell or the scent of a cigarette. You do not necessarily have to see someone smoking to know the scent is from a cigarette. Terpenes are responsible for the smell in most plants and their extracts. This article highlights all you need to know about terpenes, including what they are, their benefits, and if they affect people.   

    Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants. They are mainly associated with cannabis. This is because the cannabis plants have them in high concentration. They are responsible for the scent of many plants, especially those with high concentrations, including cannabis, lavender, pine, and oranges. Terpenes are also useful in the human body concerning health benefits. Since the rules surrounding cannabis have become less strict, most researchers have conducted studies to determine the benefits of terpenes to the human body.

    What Are Terpenes?

    According to Sharmeen et al. (2021), terpenes are highly and great aromatic compounds that help determine the scent of many plants and herbs that have them in high concentration. These plants or herbs are rosemary, lavender, and cannabis plants. Most manufacturers use terpenes to produce flavors and different scents of many products. Such products include perfumes, foods, and even body products.


    Which Role Do They Play?

    Terpenes have many different roles in plants and herbs. Since they are responsible for giving out the scents, they help attract pollinators in some plants. In other plants, they help to keep off some predators like the insects away from them.

    Cox-Georgian, Ramadoss, Dona & Basu (2019) suggested that some terpenes are responsible for playing a protective role in the plants and herbs. They help keep them off from damage and help them recover from the damage. Others are part of the herbs or plant's immune system, which helps keep infectious germs away from the plants.

    How Are They Different from Cannabinoids?

    Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds that are found in cannabis. Some cannabinoids, such as the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), help activate the receptors in the endocannabinoid system in the body. This is responsible for making people high when they use cannabis.

    Cannabidiol is another cannabinoid that has become more popular, especially for its medicinal properties. Although cannabidiol acts on some receptors, it affects them differently and does not create a feeling of intense happiness or excitement.

    The cannabis plant has terpenes as well. They are one of the most abundant compounds in the world. They are responsible for the scent of most herbs and plants and some animal compounds. However, some also act on the endocannabinoid system in the body just like the cannabinoid does. The only observable difference is that the body will absorb and use these compounds differently.

    Do Terpenes Affect people?

    Maffei (2019) suggested that some terpenes are bioactive, meaning that they can affect the human body positively or negatively. Its effect on the human body will depend on the concentration of the terpenes and the frequency it is used.

    Since the terpenes give out vibrant and great scents, they help create and produce essential oils that form an important part when they are used in therapies. Some of these therapies include aromatherapy. When the scent from some of these plants is inhaled, it may affect a person's stress levels and mood.

    Most people believe that terpenes may affect them or enhance how high a person can get from using cannabis. This process is referred to as the entourage effect. This effect suggests that the terpenes can either enhance or damage the effects of THC and CBD in the human body.

    Some studies, however, back some of these claims. Wade et al. (2003)found that a CBD-rich extract with terpenes improved the symptoms of most epileptics. They also had fewer side effects than those who used the purified CBD. This shows that some components in cannabis, such as the terpenes, may affect how the body uses CBD.

    Benefits of Terpenes

    Reduce pain

    Terpenes can relieve pain in the human body. Cock (2011) noted that some terpenes, such as peppermints, are responsible and can assist in the physical ailment. When one has a sore muscle, the terpene can be of great advantage in relieving some of the pain from the muscle.

    Get Enough and Better Sleep

    Most are when you come from work tired or just from a trip, and you would wish to calm your mind, relax and get some sleep. The good thing about the terpenes is that they can help you with that. Chandra (2001)noted that they have a calming effect and can relax the body and mind as you unwind. The scent can then give you a sound sleep away from the stress of daily life. However, not all the terpenes are responsible or assist in making one have enough sleep. The most common one is lavender. According to Battaglia (2003), the lavender terpene's aroma is soothing enough to make someone sleep soundly. In addition, Balz (1996) noted that terpenes such as the diffused citrus essential oil are responsible for making one alert and awake for a longer time.


    terpenes play a vital role in giving the plants a great scent and flavor. Most plants that have a high concentration of terpenes are the ones that benefit from them. The terpenes play different and important roles in the plants and humans at times. The scent and flavors are the most important roles played by the terpenes. However, in animals, terpenes are used as an antioxidant and help improve the immune system by reducing inflammation.   


    Balz, R. (1996). The healing power of essential oils: Fragrance secrets for everyday use. Lotus Press.

    Battaglia, S. (2003). The complete guide to aromatherapy (pp. 1-602). Queensland, AU: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.

    Cock, I. E. (2011). Medicinal and aromatic plants–Australia. Ethnopharmacology, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS).

    Sharmeen, J. B., Mahomoodally, F. M., Zengin, G., & Maggi, F. (2021). Essential oils as natural sources of fragrance compounds for cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. Molecules, 26(3), 666.        

    Chandra, A. (2001). Relaxation Techniques. Pustak Mahal.

    Cox-Georgian, D., Ramadoss, N., Dona, C., & Basu, C. (2019). Therapeutic and medicinal uses of terpenes. In Medicinal Plants (pp. 333-359). Springer, Cham.  

    Maffei, M. (2019). Plant Bioactive Molecules. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    Wade, D. T., Robson, P., House, H., Makela, P., & Aram, J. (2003). A preliminary controlled study to determine whether whole-plant cannabis extracts can improve intractable neurogenic symptoms. Clinical rehabilitation, 17(1), 21-29.