10 cannabis terpenes you’ve probably never heard of

By: Contributor Culture

Maybe you already know the main terpenes of marijuana and think that nothing else can surprise you. However, many of these substances aren’t as well known as they should, as this field has only just begun to flourish alongside the legalisation of the industry. In this article we explain everything you need to know about some terpenes that have gone unnoticed for far too long, what their properties are, and why you should get to know them.

cannabis terpenes are the aromatic compounds that provide this ancient plant with its aroma and flavour. Like cannabinoids, they are produced in the trichomes of the cannabis buds and are excreted through the resin.

As you probably know, marijuana can have very different aromas and flavours. This is owed to the great diversity of terpenes that exist in its composition, which are combined in different quantities in each variety, creating a unique and distinctive mix.

To date, the cannabis plant has been found to contain 200 different terpenes, whose therapeutic properties have provided much to talk about in the scientific community.

Properties of cannabis terpenes

You probably already know about the benefits of the cannabinoids found in marijuana, but what do you know about its terpenes? Some of these aromatic compounds also affect our endocannabinoid system, which is the neuromodulating system that interacts with the cannabis plant, producing multiple responses in our body. Besides, some studies claim that terpenes can also affect our dopamine and serotonin levels.

Nonetheless, the therapeutic effects produced by these aromatic compounds can greatly vary from one terpene to another. The main cannabis terpenes include pinene, limonene, humulene, linalool, ocimene, bisabolol, terpinolene, caryophyllene, and myrcene. However, this short list is just the tip of the iceberg of the extensive number of aromatic compounds found in marijuana.

The least known terpenes of cannabis

According to a study published in December 2022, every terpene can provide very different and unique properties, so it’s important to know all of them. This study scrutinised the following minority terpenes to reveal their identity and characteristics.


1- Borneol

We start with one of the best-known secondary terpenes. Besides being present in the cannabis plant, borneol can also be found in rosemary, ginger, sage, oregano, and thyme, among others.

This terpene has a characteristic minty aroma that humans find very pleasant but insects seem to hate. That’s why it’s commonly used in mosquito repellents. Traditionally, though, borneol has been used in Chinese medicine as a resuscitation drug due to its ability to open the airways.

In addition, borneol is believed to have the ability to increase the permeability of the brain membrane, which facilitates its access to the central nervous system.

Borneol also showcases antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and neuroprotective properties. This is definitely a true jewel that will certainly provide much to talk about in the coming years.


2- Camphor

Camphor belongs to the monoterpene family and is known worldwide for its strong naphthalene smell. It is found in large quantities on the camphor laurel tree, also known as Cinnamomum camphora, and on the kapur tree, a tall tree for wood production from Southeast Asia.

Camphor has been produced as a forest product for centuries. It is condensed from the steam released by roasting wood chips cut from the previously mentioned trees (by passing steam through the pulverised wood and then condensing the vapours). Camphor is used as an embalming fluid, a chemical product for manufacturing, and as topical medication. It is also used in religious ceremonies.

Its numerous qualities include antibacterial, antiviral, antitussive, antimutagenic, anticancer, and antioxidant activity.


3- Camphene

Camphene and camphor are similar in terms of uses and aromas, but they’re not exactly the same. Both are terpenes: camphor is a terpenoid often used as a fragrance additive, whereas camphene is a monoterpene used to make synthetic camphor. It is found in plants such as cypress trees, valerian, basil, nutmeg, sage, ginger, and rosemary.

Due to its flammable nature, and because it was less expensive than whale oil, camphene became one of the most popular lamp fuel sources in the 19th century. However, due to its high volatility, it stopped being used and was eventually replaced by the more reliable kerosene.

Existing research indicates its impressive potential to treat multiple health issues, especially as an antifungal and potent antioxidant, which can in turn help to naturally relieve stress.


4- Cedrene

This terpene is characteristic of cedar, cypress, and juniper, but small amounts have also been identified in some cannabis strains. It has a fresh and woody, sweet and earthy scent which is often used in the aroma of many perfumes, soaps, and essential oils.

In addition to this highly productive aroma used in the cosmetics industry, this terpene is also attributed with antifungal, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties. What’s more, one of its isomers (alpha-cedrene) is believed to be a good ally to combat obesity.


5- Isopulegol

Isopulegol is the chemical ancestor of menthol, so you can imagine how it smells and tastes. This is the compound responsible for providing cannabis with that unmistakable fresh and minty aroma. It can be found in a wide variety of plant species, such as lemon, mint, and eucalyptus, among many others.

It is often used in personal care products, like soap and cosmetics, whose aim is to provide a clean aroma and a feeling of freshness. Isopulegol is also seen to have great potential as an antidepressant, anxiolytic, and anticonvulsant, and it also displays gastroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.


6- Phytol

The smell of phytol is reminiscent of fresh grass. This terpene is characteristic of aromatic plants like green tea, mint, tarragon, and basil, as well as cannabis. Although its popular aroma should be enough by itself, it is believed that phytol can also be a great antioxidant, analgesic, and anxiolytic.

Several studies also claim that phytol can work as a sedative. So, if you have trouble falling asleep at night and want to avoid prescription sleeping pills, phytol may be a good alternative for you.


7- Pulegone

This monoterpene is found in aromatic herbs such as mint, catnip, and pennyroyal mint, as well as in cannabis, although in lower concentrations. It showcases an attractive smell of mint with hints of camphor, which is why it is used in the sweet industry.

Pulegone has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of colds and coughs, as well as to reduce fever. Scientists have also proven its potential to treat inflammation, bacterial and viral infections, pain, and anxiety. This is a true multipurpose remedy straight from the herb shop!


8- Sabinene

This terpene has a spiced taste and aroma, and can also be found in holm oak, fir, juniper bushes, carrot seed oil, and black pepper. With its distinctive warm and spicy aroma, it’s no wonder it’s often used in aromatherapy. The nuances of pine and wood emitted by sabinene can help evoke the sensation of being in the forest, surrounded by fragrant trees.

Some of its therapeutic benefits include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, although more research is still needed regarding this. Sabinene can also offer protection against cavities, so it could also be useful as an ingredient in oral health products in the future.


9- Thujene

Like many monoterpenes, thujene is characteristic of a great variety of essential oils extracted from aromatic plants like eucalyptus, dill, and incense. Its smell is a mix of spiced and woody aromas.

Although it is supposed to have beneficial properties, these have not yet been thoroughly studied. To date, thujene is considered a toxic substance for the liver and the nervous system, so an overdose may lead to serious consequences. It is believed that Vincent van Gogh cut his ear off under the effects of absinthe, a distilled drink that contains wormwood, and therefore thujene. So it appears that this substance helped to enhance the artist’s strange character.


10- Valencene

Valencene is part of a group of larger, more complex terpenes called sesquiterpenes, and is less common in cannabis than limonene. Its aroma is often associated with citrus fruits (such as grapefruit, tangerine, nectarine, and mango) and, more specifically, with Valencia oranges, which have been found to contain large quantities of this terpene.

Valencene is a powerful insecticide, so it’s highly effective when used in pest control products and insect sprays. It is also extremely valuable for citrusy beauty and personal care products, household cleaning products, and foodstuffs. In addition to its delicious scent, valencene also showcases neuroprotective, antiallergic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Not a bad ending for this unconventional list of the least known cannabis terpenes!

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Kannabia accept no responsibility for any illegal use made by third parties of information published. The cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is an activity subject to legal restrictions that vary from state to state. We recommend consultation of the legislation in force in your country of residence to avoid participation in any illegal activity.