John Strauss from Carmel Cannabis tells us everything we need to know to understand terpenes 

Terpenes are mentioned all the time in the cannabis sphere. It’s not unusual to hear that a strain is packed with terpenes, but for someone that may just be getting into cannabis, there can be a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about what terpenes are. 

As always, our team at Highland has your best interests at heart and wants to share the knowledge so the next time you’re in our shop, you can fully be in the know. 

For this particular topic, we’ve asked our friends from Carmel Cannabis to share some of their knowledge, and what some common misconceptions are about terpenes. 

Who is Carmel Cannabis? 

Carmel Cannabis is a premium cannabis manufacturer in Oro Station, Ontario, with a focus on rare breeds, and creating small-batch, hang dried, hand trimmed, and perfectly cured cannabis products. 

Before we get into that, we want to share a quick refresher on what terpenes are.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants. In cannabis plants, they can be found in the trichomes, which are the sticky resinous glands of a female cannabis plant.

John Strauss, the Ontario Sales Manager at Carmel Cannabis, explains, “Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in many plants. These compounds help to determine the smell of many plants and herbs.”

While one terpene alone won’t have much of an effect, it’s when they are working together that they create the high that is experienced by users. As Strauss tells us, the entourage effect is responsible for creating the unique high.  

“The biggest factor that terpenes play is that they combine with all the cannabinoids and other compounds found in cannabis to help to create the ‘entourage effect’.”

What is the Entourage Effect?

“The entourage effect is essentially the idea that every single factor of the cannabis plant is involved to create the effects that someone experiences upon ingesting cannabis.” Strauss shares, adding, “if you don’t have any terpene profile in a cannabis plant, you would not have the same experience as a plant with a large terpene profile.”

An example of this would be the Live Resin and Distillate conversation, there will be more terpenes in a Live Resin Cartridge, compared to a distillate cart due to the extraction process. 

Understanding Terpenes 

What’s interesting about terpenes is that they occur in the natural world, which includes everything from plants to animals. There are terpenes found in lavender that can be found in cannabis, called linalool, which can produce calming effects. The terpenes found in citrus commonly assumed to be limonene or terpinolene can also be found in cannabis, which gives it the citrusy flavour and aroma profile. 

The Most Common Terpene Found in Cannabis  

Have you ever heard of Indica-dominant strains being jokingly referred to as “in-da-couch”? If you have, it’s because of a monoterpene typically found in Indica strains called Myrcene. 


Myrcene is found to be naturally occurring in mangoes, hops, lemongrass, and ylang-ylang. This terpene has been reported to have analgesic, sedative, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. The critical culprit for that “in-da-couch” feeling associated with Indica high— Myrcene is a herbal and earthy terpene that has a notably physically sedative effect on consumers.

Common Terpenes 

There are many other terpenes that work together to create flavour profiles – here are some of the common ones you might find and their associated effects:

  • Bisabolol – A soothing terpene often associated with chamomile, it is useful for zoning in on one task without feeling understimulated by it.
  • Borneol – Soothing and stimulating, bringing in a sense of clarity. Helps keep level-headed and calm; avoids overstimulation.
  • Camphene – Related to the body-floating feeling associated with a smooth Indica, Camphene is perfect for a physical wind-down that doesn’t necessitate a mental knock-out.
  • Caryophyllene – Useful for keeping your body feeling as stimulated as your mind; avoids that feeling of restlessness that comes with an overstimulated mind and understimulated body.
  • Delta 3 Carene – While intensifying the physical sensations associated with a high, strains with high concentrations of these terpenes would not be recommended for a gaming session due to their notoriety to induce dry mouth.
  • Eucalyptol – Is a minty, cool terpene; despite its overall sedative effects, Eucalyptol hits like a cool summer breeze on a hot day— a burst of cerebral stimulation as your body continues to blend into the fuzzy body feeling of an Indica high. 
  • Farnesene – With a notably sweet, deep woodsmoke scent Farnesne helps maintain a mellow and tempered mindset.
  • Geraniol – Creates a lasting neuro sensation, carrying a high for longer in the strains it is found in. Useful for situations in which one cannot easily top-off their high.
  • Humulene – A very stimulating and social terpene, Humulene is associated with a sense of euphoria; in relation to the THC level of the strain, this can vary from a placid calming feeling to a stimulating wave of energy.
  • Limonene – A quintessential for the classic Sativa experience, limonene is known to increase heart rate, creating the perfect high for one to engage in stimulating activities.
  • Linalool – Meditative and calming without being sedative or heavy. Increases focus and keep the mind engaged, avoids zoning out due to stress.
  • Phytol – A thick-scented and musky terpene, Phytol is known for carrying that foggy feeling into one’s mind, making it easy to mentally clock out and lose track of time as you burn away at the daily grind.
  • Pinene – Giving a sense of lucidity and fixation, Pinene is useful for increasing memory and cognitive function during high-focus tasks.
  • Terpinolene – An extremely cerebral terpene that is known not only for its energizing effects but as an uplifting and upbeat stimulant. 
  • Trans-nerolidol –  A notably soothing effect in high concentrations, trans-nerolidol is effective in alleviating aggravated states.
  • Valencene – Interacts with the serotonin receptors rather than the typical endocannabinoid receptors; in doing so, Valencene is particularly effective in stimulating a euphoric and cerebral high.
Photo source: Western Cultured

Why Do Terpenes Matter?

“Terpenes matter because each unique terpene profile helps dictate the experience you will have when consuming cannabis.” Strauss tells us, “you can often tell the quality of cannabis-based on how high the terpene percentage is. For example, well-grown craft cannabis is usually coming in at 2% terpenes plus. While cheaper, commercially grown, lower-grade cannabis often struggles to get over 1.5% terpenes.” Strauss explains that because of this, “many seasoned smokers can tell whether they will like a strain or not based upon the terpene percentage alone.”

What Are Some Common Misconceptions about Terpenes?

Strauss says that one of the biggest red flags that the industry is seeing is false advertising. Some producers have claimed that artificial terpenes can let off the same effect as terpenes found in a plant. Strauss tells us that that is not true. He shares that it’s not possible to replicate the exact profile by finding some botanical terpenes that smell similar. “Each unique genetic has its own makeup of 100’s of terpenes and cannabinoids that give it its effects.”

What Have We Learned Today 

Something to consider when purchasing cannabis is to observe what terpenes are in the cannabis and to make note of what kind of vibe you’re after. 

“Terpenes play a huge role in the smell, flavour, and effects in strains. I personally shop for cannabis based on terpene profiles, as I find this is the best way to dictate how the genetic will affect me.”

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to be alert and pay attention to an intricate video game, maybe a myrcene dominant strain isn’t the best-suited option. Instead, you’d try a terpinolene that improves focus and alertness. Whatever vibe you choose, our team at Highland is available to assist to help to make an informed decision about terpenes. 

About Highland Cannabis

Highland Cannabis is an independent, locally-owned dispensary that specializes in cannabis retail in Kitchener, Ontario. Owners Owen and Niki Allerton, both former corporate leaders, founded the mom-and-pop cannabis shop known for its award-winning design and stellar customer service in February 2021.

Source: National Library of Medicine