Posted in: SummaBasics

What Are Terpenes?

Article at a glance:

Learn all about terpenes, what they do, and some of the most common terpenes you'll find in the hemp plant.

What do you think is responsible for the aroma, color, flavor, and taste of hemp?

Is it chlorophyll?

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The soil it is grown in?

Perhaps it's a watering or irrigation process?

If you guessed any of the above, you are unfortunately incorrect. Better luck next time. But while you may have guessed incorrectly this time around, I can pretty much guarantee you will get it right next time! (assuming you read the entirety of this blog post). Because I am about to tell you all about the correct answer to all of the above.

And that answer is “terpenes.”

The Basics and Definition of Terpenes

Although you now know terpenes are responsible for the aroma, color, flavor, and taste of hemp, you’re probably still wondering, “what is a terpene?” Well, wonder no more, my friend. Terpenes are natural chemical compounds that are found in plants (including hemp) and some animals. They can be found in everyday products like cleaning solvents, pesticides, and dyes, and the most common sources of terpenes are cannabis, aromatic herbs (like thyme and sage), and citrus fruits. In hemp (like that in SummaForte’s CBD products), terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from others. That’s pretty much the long and short of the most basic explanation of terpenes. So now that you know what terpenes are, let’s paint a bigger terpene picture by getting into what they actually do.

What do terpenes do?

While there is still a lot of research to be done on terpenes, scientists believe that terpenes typically serve the purpose of protecting plants from harsh weather and predators. With regard to terpenes and their effects on humans, benefits abound. What benefits, you ask? Oh, nothing too crazy, just anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-anxiety, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, and anti-stress. No big deal. But just how, exactly, do these terpenes work to provide all these amazing potential health benefits? Well, have you ever heard the phrase “it takes an army”? In short, terpenes work in conjunction with cannabinoids to create a bodily phenomenon that’s referred to as “the entourage effect.”

The Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a scientific theory that states that cannabinoids when interacting with each other and with other compounds found in cannabis (like terpenes and flavonoids), work synergistically to magnify the beneficial effects of each compound. This basically means that the “whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” (The entourage effect is precisely why SummaForte’s CBD-infused products like SummaRest, SummaMix, and SummaTape use CBD from broad-spectrum hemp versus isolate strains.) That’s the entourage effect in a nutshell. And while the entourage effect is important, this is an article about terpenes, specifically, so let’s get back to them, shall we? After all, I have yet to tell you all about the different kinds of terpenes, and there are over 400 of them!

Different Terpenes and Their Effects 

While there are a ton of different terpenes and over 100 of them in a cannabis flower alone, so far there are only a select few of them that have been studied to the point of proven medicinal properties. Let’s look at some of them below.


Being a major ingredient in cloves, rosemary, and hops, studies on beta-caryophyllene have shown that it could be beneficial for managing symptoms of both anxiety and depression.


If you’ve ever walked through a forest of pine trees, you know what beta-pinene smells like. (Fitting name, right?) This potentially revolutionary terpene has also piqued the interest of scientists everywhere for its anti-depressant and anti-cancer properties.


A terpene found in ginseng (which is found in many energy drinks), humulene has been used in folk medicine for years for its potent energizing effects.


Limonene, one of the most commonly found terpenes, also has a fitting name given its distinct notes of citrus. Studies have shown that it may potentially have anti-cancer properties, and in mice, it’s been shown to have anti-anxiety properties.


Having a lavender scent, linalool is as desirable for your olfactory nerves as it is for your body. This terpene has been shown to help alleviate stress.


Last but not least, myrcene, which is also found in mangoes, has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Studies have also indicated that it could have sedative effects.

Parting Thoughts on Terpenes

No matter what your ailment may be, there’s bound to be at least one terpene that can benefit you and your body in some way, shape, or form. From anti-inflammatories to antifungals, there’s no limit to the potential medicinal properties terpenes could have. And now that you’re informed, there’s no limit to the questions you can now answer about them!