Cannabis is a complex plant containing several natural chemical compounds that work together. Most are aware of cannabinoids, the biologically active compound that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system and delivers psychoactive effects, but terpenes are an important piece of the puzzle. While cannabinoids like THC and CBD are well-known, terpenes also play a significant role in the aroma, flavour, and effects of cannabis. In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular terpenes, their benefits, and what to consider when selecting strains based on terpene profiles.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are chemical compounds found in many plants, including cannabis. They are what deliver the distinct smells and flavours associated with strains. Terpenes are naturally occurring, found also in fruits, flowers, and herbs, contributing to their unique scents and tastes. In cannabis, terpenes can work synergistically with cannabinoids to actually modulate the psychoactive effects of a strain, known as the entourage effect

Common Cannabis Terpenes:


Myrcene is the most common terpene. According to Leafly, it is represented in over 20% of commercial cannabis, while also likely to be the dominant terpene in a strain. Myrcene is known for its earthy, musky aroma. For example, Queen’s Cannabis Co.’s strain 1964: Death Bubba purports a “pungent, earthy” smell, and as you’d guess, myrcene is dominant. It has a long history in traditional medicine as a sleep aid, as well as a pain-killer. Believed to have sedative effects, myrcene may contribute to the “couch-lock” feeling associated with some indica strains.


As you might be able to glean from the name, limonene is known for its highly aromatic citrusy scent. It is believed to have mood-enhancing, relaxing, and anti-anxiety effects. Studies have also shown limonene to have anti-inflammatory powers, reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and modulating oxidative stress.


Again, the secret’s in the name! Pinene is commonly found in pine trees, and brings that same scent profile to its work in cannabis. Maybe report an aroma reminiscent of a pine tree forest. Like limonene and several other terpenes, studies have claimed its anti-inflammatory as well as antimicrobial and gastroprotective properties. Strains high in pinene may promote alertness and memory retention.

Cannabis terpenes laying on table


Caryophyllene is very unique because it can behave like a cannabinoid, despite not being one. Unlike any other terpenes, it can interact directly with the human body’s endocannabinoid system and bind to CB2 receptors, and aid in reducing inflammation. It’s known for its spicy or peppery aroma.


Naturally found in over 200 plants like lavender, rosewood, and mint, linalool is known for its calming floral aroma. Linalool is believed to have, and often chosen by cannabis enthusiasts for, its sleep-inducing, pain-relieving, and anti-anxiety effects. 


How Do Terpenes Affect Smell?

The terpene profile of a cannabis strain can significantly influence its aroma and effects. For example, a strain high in myrcene may have a deep musky scent and stronger sedative effects, while a strain high in limonene may smell lighter and lemon-y and produce uplifting effects. Understanding the terpene profile of a strain in addition to the cannabinoids present can help you better understand the synergistic interactions within a strain. Stay informed so you know how they operate together to produce your desired experience.


Tips for Selecting Terpene Profiles

  • Weigh the Effects: How do you want to feel? Figure out if you’re searching for a strain that encourages energy, attention, or relaxation. Certain terpenes have different effects, so understanding what you’re looking for will help you narrow down your options.


  • Take a Whiff: When selecting a strain, take the time to smell it. The aroma of a strain can give you clues about its terpene profile and potential effects. This could go deeper, wanting to holistically trust your nose and choose strains that appeal to you, or very practical in wanting a specific and pleasant scent over one you just don’t want your clothes to smell like. 


  • Test & Experiment: Our endocannabinoid systems are unique to us, so what works for one person may not work for another. Many take recommendations from friends for what works for them, feel free to experiment and see if you receive the same great benefits or whether something else may be a better fit. Once you find terpene profiles you respond well to, you can search for them by name and discover hundreds of strains that may operate similarly. 

Enjoy next-day delivery from Queens Cannabis Co., where our strains list their dominant terpenes so you can make an informed decision on your purchase. 



Next time you’re picking a new strain, remember terpenes are essential to the flavour, aroma, and effects of cannabis. Choose products that mesh with your desired outcome and scent. There is a cannabis strain with the ideal terpene profile for you, regardless of your needs—energy, mood, or relaxation.