The chemotype, or chemical makeup each strain has in cannabinoids and terpenes, are the biologically active compounds that create the unique “entourage effects” contained within the plant.  Terpene content is also one of the greatest markers to substantiate quality from how cannabis was grown and terpene content preserved.” – Alec Dixon, Founder of SC Labs

Terpenes, and terpenoids, are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found in many plants. Often, they are responsible for the characteristic smells (lavender, pine trees, and oranges as examples) and are the major constituent of plant essential oils and resins. Terpenes act, among other things, as natural plant defense mechanisms against insects and pests, in some instances deterring predator insects and animals and attracting beneficial insects and animals like bees in others.[1]

Terpenes have extensive uses in everyday life including foods, cosmetics, aromatherapies, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals. Many terpenes also have bio-active properties and are used in medical applications for the treatment of human diseases in conventional western medicine, including anti-cancer and anti-malarial pharmaceuticals.[2] The relationship between terpenes and cannabinoids, known as the “entourage effect,” may ultimately differentiate the effects of one strain of cannabis from another.

Terpene molecules are quite small and consist of repeating building blocks called isoprene units. Many terpenes act synergistically with other varieties of terpenes, and some either catalyze or inhibit formation of different compounds within a plant. Understanding the structures and functions of terpenes and terpenoids allows scientists to tailor research, breeding programs, and formulation of products toward specific outcomes and effects.



Myrcene is the terpene most frequently found in cannabis, and is often described as earthy and herbal. Myrcene is found in hops, thyme, lemongrass and mango. Strains in which Myrcene is the dominant terpene represent the largest proportion of strains currently available in the market. Myrcene dominant strains, such as Cherry Pie and Blue Dream, often have Myrcene in amounts in excess of 50% of the total terpene content.

Functionally, Myrcene interacts with TRPV1 and the opiate system to produce pain relieving effects. We know this based on studies using pharmacological interventions. When naloxone (Narcan) and opioid antagonist is applied prior to treatment with myrcene, the analgesic effects of myrcene are blocked.[3] Similarly in the context of TRPV1, when the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine is applied prior to treatment with myrcene the pain relieving effects are blocked.[4]

Common Myrcene dominant strains: Blue Dream, OG Kush, Green Crack

β Caryophyllene

β Caryophyllene is found in black pepper and cloves and is used as a flavoring agent to add both spicy and herbal notes. β Caryophyllene is one of the only terpenes that is known to interact directly with the endocannabinoid system and produces anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects via the CB2 receptor.[15] Additionally, there is evidence that β Caryphyllene is effective at easing localized[16] and neurological[17] pain.

Common β Caryophyllene dominant stains: GSC, Sherbert, Cheese, Huckleberry

α Pinene

α Pinene, not to be confused with its isomer β pinene, is found in dill, basil, rosemary, and parsley, in addition to pine needles and other conifers. α Pinene offers numerous benefits including anti-inflammation[5,6], anti-microbial[7], anti-cancer[8], and anti-anxiety[9].

α Pinene’s neuroprotective properties may offer even more promise. It may be beneficial not only against a broad range of degenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, general dementia, amnesia, cognitive dysfunction, and overall memory loss.[10] Pinene may also have positive effects on memory by inhibiting the degradation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is critical for short term memory and may help mitigate the effects of THC on memory.[11]

Common α Pinene dominant stains: Taffy, Laughy Taffy, Sour Carmello, Amaretto Sour, Royal Pineapple


Terpinolene is incredibly common in strains but usually in very small amounts. Strains in which Terpinolene is dominant are much less common. Terpinolene has a complicated organoleptic profile with a nose described as woody and herbaceous yet floral. It can be found in nature in Lilac, Tea Tree, Apples, Cumin, and Nutmeg.

Studies in mice have shown that its inhalation produces sedating effects[18]. This terpene also exhibits anticancer and antioxidant properties[19]. Recent research is also exploring terpinolenes role in avoiding coronary heart disease in concert with other anti-oxidants.[20]

Common Terpinolene dominant stains: Jack, Classic Haze, Super Lemon Haze, Trainwreck, Dutch Treat


Limonene is common to the lemon and other citrus essential oils, and is the second most widely distributed terpenoid in nature.[12] This monoterpene produces uplifting and energizing effects. These effects are thought to be caused by its agonist effects at the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A.[13] Limonene may offer promise for those suffering from gastro intestinal issues as D-limonene exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in ulcerative colitis.[14]

Common Limonene dominant stains: Wedding Cake, MAC, Dos-Si-Dos


Ocimene imparts a sweet, floral and woody scent. Although present in many strains, Ocimene dominant strains of cannabis are rare. Ocimene can be found in a wide variety of plants including hops, kumquats, mangoes, basil, bergamot, lavender, orchids, pepper in varying quantities. Ocimene is used extensively in the perfume industry due to its sweet, floral, and herbaceous aromatic profile.

Ocimene is produced as a defense mechanism in response to insect predation in some plants.[21] Additionally, there is evidence that Ocimene may have anti inflammatory properties.[22]

Common Ocimene dominant strains: Harmony Rose and Pink Lemonade. Ocimene is also found in Golden Pineapple, Dutch Treat, and Dream Queen.