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An Introduction to Terpenes: Part II

An Introduction to Terpenes: Part II

Alright, so we’ve established what terpenes are and their benefits (if you missed that part, find it here). Up next, we’re diving a little deeper into the make up of terpenes and finding the right ones for you.


Hydrocarbons are made up almost entirely of terpenes: monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes. In other words, hydrocarbons are terpenes. And terpenes are hydrocarbons. They are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by every plant, flower, and even some insects.

This is where terpenes and essential oils are different. Essential oils are comprised of terpenes, much like cannabis is. Terpenes found in most essential oils are either monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes and can be classified even further.

Monoterpenes — The “Sunny” Constituent

Monoterpenes produce a warming sensation on the skin. They’ll make you think of and smell citrus. Two such examples are pinene and limonene, two of the most common constituents that make up essential oils.

Oils containing monoterpenes include:

  • Limonene — found in Bergamot, Carrot, Fennel, Lemon, Neroli, Orange and other Citrus Oils

  • Pinene — found in Coriander, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Pine, Black Pepper, Oregano

  • Camphene — found in Juniper, Fir, Spruce, and Pine

Sesquiterpenes — “Calming and Soothing” Constituents

Oils with high percentages of sesquiterpenes promote relaxation. These calming and soothing terpenes are perfect for relaxing after a stressful day. Essential oils for sleep (think lavender and vanilla) are another great way to help your body ease into its natural state.

Oils containing Sesquiterpenes include:

  • Caryophyllene — found in Lavender, Clary Sage, Marjoram

  • Azulene & Chamazulene — found in Chamomile

  • Cadinene — found in Patchouli, Lemon, Cedarwood


Speaking of promoting sleep and relaxation, remember when we mentioned CBN (cannabinol) earlier, one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis? Cannabinoids and terpenes are the ones doing the dance, creating beautiful magic and music (scents, flavors, benefits). So just what is CBN?

If THC is the all-star performer, and CBD is its chill, but no-less-cool cousin, then CBN is the sleeper of this incredibly complex cannabinoid family. And by sleeper we mean the one sitting in the back of the class, unassuming, waiting and watching before showing its true power. In a way, CBN has literally been sleeping. As THC oxidizes (exposure to oxygen over time), it converts to CBN. While leaving cannabis exposed to air like this will age the product, it will also develop higher levels of CBN.

And these CBN-rich products are on the way. Sunday Goods disposable vaporizer pens Delight, Spark, Soothe, and Rest have different ratios of the cannabinoids, including our delightfully clever CBN (found in Rest), which is sedative but not intoxicating. Most flowers contain only trace amounts of CBN at around 1%, compared to THC contents which can go as high as 30%. Even at such a trace amount, a little bit of CBN can go a long way, or at least until your head hits the pillow.

The exciting thing about CBN and cannabis in general is that THC, CBD, and CBN are just three of hundreds of cannabinoids present in the plant, and scientists are just starting to understand their effects and how they interact with each other. Only time will tell how many other ones we didn’t know were there, or were “sleeping.”

Which Terpenes are Right For Me?

The only way to know that? Start trying some! First, buy some lab-tested cannabis so you know which terpenes are actually present. When you enjoy a certain cultivar (remember these are strains) you’ve bought or noticed something you like, make note of it. Let your senses guide you. What tastes and smells good to you?

Whether you’re experimenting with terpenes, a new cannabinoid friend on the scene, CBN, or all of the above, have fun with it and find out what feels good.

Now, where to find them

  • Myrcene: has a peppery, spicy, balsam smell. Where can I find it? Mango. Parsley. Hops.

  • Limonene: has a strong citrus odor and flavor. It’s slightly sweet but also tangy and bitter. Where can I find it? Citrus fruits.

  • Terpinolene: has a piney or woody aroma, with hints of citrus and herbal spice. Where can I find it? Apple. Cumin. Lilac and tea tree.

  • Beta-Caryophyllene: has a dry, sweet, woody, spicy clove scent. Where can I find it? Black pepper. Basil. Oregano. Rosemary. Lavender. Cinnamon.

  • Alpha-Pinene: is known for its pine smell! Mostly found in European and North American pines. Where can I find it? Conifer trees. Eucalyptus. Sage. Ironwort.

  • Humulene: neutralizes ozone in the atmosphere with sunlight via ozonolysis. A primary constituent in beer making. Where can I find it? Common sage. Ginseng. Spearmint. Ginger.

An Introduction to Terpenes: Part I

An Introduction to Terpenes: Part I

So you’re wondering what terpenes are? You might know that they have something to do with smell, and they’re good for us, but so many explanations out there seem to resemble a complicated math equation we’ve done a thousand times: we can get there in the end, but we don’t know how we got there.

Well, we’re here to help. We’ll take you through terpenes and how we can use them to help us Feel Good.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic molecules found in plants that evaporate easily, quickly telling us what they smell like. The absorbing fragrance and particular psychoactive flavor in a cultivar (when you think strain, you are actually thinking about a plant’s cultivar) are determined by the predominant terpenes. Plants developed terpenes (and terpenoids) to keep away herbivores that might eat them and to attract beneficial predators and pollinators. In cannabis, these volatile molecules enhance your high while carrying numerous medical benefits.

Terpenes appeared on the cannabis scene in an interesting way, and it didn’t happen until recently. Indoor grow facilities allowed growers to breed THC-heavy genetics and a curious thing happened: these heavyweight cultivars were testing high in labs but scoring low with patients. Upon closer inspection, breeders found a lack of flavor and aroma. The missing ingredient? Terpenes!

Heightened Effects From Terpenes

Breeders and growers alike quickly found out that certain terpenes bond to cannabinoid receptors in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and enhance the effects of other important compounds in the cannabis plant, including the two most infamous: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). When terpenes were accidentally removed through selective breeding, their content decreased, and the plant as a whole… just wasn’t as good.

Imagine that cannabinoids and terpenes are dance partners, boosting and regulating the effects of one another in the body’s ECS. For a long time, THC was considered the only chemical with psychoactive importance in cannabis. Nowadays, we know that other cannabinoids like CBD and CBN (which will be explained more in-depth later) along with terpenes can either increase or decrease the effects of THC and other chemicals in the body that interact with the ECS.

Terpinolene, for example, which is found in apples or cumin, induces sedation (sleepiness) and provides antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antibacterial effects. Humulene, on the other hand, found in ginseng or ginger, is an anti-inflammatory agent and hunger suppressant.

Taste and Flavor of Terpenes

Mother Nature is infallible. Did you know that the smell of terpenes aids in guiding you toward the cannabis your body wants? If a variety of weed smells good to you, it could be your body’s way of telling you exactly what it wants. And by extension, what might bring benefits.

Now that we know which terpenes can work to ease specific ailments, we can use cannabis more effectively. We can enjoy their healing qualities in many ways—after all, terpenes are found in all plants. One way to complement the positive effects from cannabis is essential oils. Prominent terpenes found in cannabis are also present in many varieties of essential oils, and can be:

  • Absorbed through the skin

  • Ingested

  • Diffused and inhaled for aromatherapy purposes

Tune in next time for part 2 of our terpene blog, where we’ll explore the make up of terpenes and finding the right ones to help you Feel Good.