May 25th 2022
5 Terpenes for Medical Patients to Have on Their Radar

Terpenes are one of the most critical parts of the cannabis experience aside from the cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBG, or CBN. It is important for those with a medical cannabis certification to learn about terpenes when making product choices that will lead to their intended medical outcomes for relief, healing, health, or well-being.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in all plants, including cannabis, that are responsible for the flavor, aroma, and sometimes effect. Terpenes are truly the largest differentiators between cultivars (“strains”) and what may be all the difference between cannabis that makes the patient want to tackle their to-do list and cannabis that puts a patient in the couch.

Compassionate Clinics of America is passionate about terpenes, the role they play in The Entourage Effect, and the way terpenes help us target medical outcomes for patients using cannabis for relief from certain conditions.

Here are 5 terpenes to have on your radar with some of the medical and therapeutic properties that they are being researched for:


Limonene is one of the most popular of terpenes due to its energetic, invigorating properties. Limonene is likely one of the most recognizable terpenes. The smell one gets when peeling into the rind of an orange: that’s limonene. Limonene is abundant in all citrus fruits and has a (you guessed it) citrusy and sweet scent.

Limonene is highly valued for its anti-anxiety properties, with animal studies observing decreased anxiety and depression when limonene is administered. Limonene is also known to be an anti-oxidant and crucial in reducing cell damage. It also holds anti-inflammatory attributes with the ability to affect the way pain is signaled to the brain, with practitioners believing that this citrusy terpene can contribute to pain management. Finally, limonene is being researched for its anti-cancer properties, with research supporting its potential ability to attack and kill cancer cells in studies of lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.


Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis, being present in up to 20% of the terpene profiles of the products one may find in a medical cannabis dispensary after receiving their medical cannabis recommendation. Myrcene has a balsam, peppery, and spicy aroma and flavor, and is commonly found in thyme, mango, lemongrass, ylang-ylang, parsley, hops, and verbena.

Myrcene is mostly known for its sedative effects, used in plant medicine over centuries across the world as a tranquilizer and muscle relaxant. Initial animal studies have shown that when administered myrcene for its pain relieving properties, animal subjects experienced increased rest and time asleep. While this theory is only preliminary, some scientists claim that myrcene can reduce pain by increasing the brain and spinal cord’s own opioid chemicals. Myrcene also holds antioxidant attributes, protecting cells against toxicity, as well as potential anti-microbial properties. 


For anyone who appreciates beer, humulene may be a familiar terpene, as it is not only in cannabis, but it is the most abundant terpene in hops, which give beer its flavor and aroma. Humulene is also found in common sage, black sage, balsam fir, ginseng, spearmint, and ginger. Humulene is unique as it acts as both a terpene and a cannabinoid, meaning that it binds to the cannabinoid receptors much in the way THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids do.

When humulene found in black sage was researched, it showed to have possible anti-inflammatory attributes, suggesting that humulene may be helpful in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Humulene found in balsam fir was discovered to hold anti-bacterial properties, particularly being effective against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Humulene is also a powerful insect repellent. Humulene is being increasingly researched for its potential anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties, as it’s believed that humulene has a role in the depletion of natural oxygen within cancer cells.

Alpha Pinene

The terpene pinene comes in two isomers, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, with alpha-pinene being more abundant in cannabis. Alpha-pinene is the most abundant terpene in the natural world and is most associated with the smell of pine needles.

Alpha Pinene is being researched for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its potential for pain management for those living with inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, cancer, and Crohn’s. Alpha Pinene also has bronchodilator properties, with possible implications for the treatment of asthma and other lung conditions. Alpha Pinene is known to produce focus, improve memory and help with creativity, and may show promise as a supplement for those living with dementia-related diseases. Alpha Pinene also holds anti-bacterial properties towards certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.


Beta-caryophyllene is mostly recognized for its spicy, peppery aroma, as it is also the dominant terpene in black pepper, and has a uniquely large size and structure. Beta-caryophyllene is able to activate several receptors in the body, including the CB2 of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). 

Beta Caryophyllene has demonstrated analgesic properties with potential in helping people find relief from neuropathic pain. It is also potentially an antioxidant for the liver, and it may also help control gastric acids. Beta Caryophyllene may also reduce inflammation in the brain by decreasing the chemicals that cause inflammation-induced stress. One animal study demonstrates Beta Caryophyllene’s potential to reduce alcohol intake, being a possible terpene to aid in addictions.

The Importance of Terpenes in the Medical Cannabis Experience

Once a patience receives their medical cannabis recommendation, they will be able to explore various cannabis cultivars (“strains”) and products that have various terpene profiles. We always recommend that our patients learn as much as they can about terpenes when choosing products to get to their desired outcomes for relief.

It’s important to note that prominent cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo has stated that terpene concentrations higher than 0.5% in cannabis are of “pharmacological note”, meaning that terpenes in products must present at higher than this level to have a medical or therapeutic outcome.

Learn More About Terpenes with Compassionate Clinics of America

At Compassionate Clinics of America, we are dedicated to helping provide as much education as possible to our patients to help guide them through the cannabis experience. Be sure to read the articles on our blog and stay tuned to this space as we continue to release more information to ensure those who receive a medical cannabis certification from us are empowered in their journey towards healing, health, and well-being.

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