16 best CBD terpenes

Table of Contents

What are terpenes?

This terpene guide will help you identify terpenes by their smell and taste. It will also give you the latest insight into their mood-altering properties and potential health benefits.

  • identify the smell and taste of the best cannabis terpenes
  • match terpenes to their exact effects
  • learn to pair terpenes and cannabinoids to boost the effects of both
  • learn to choose cannabis strains with terpene profiles that will benefit you

If you don’t find an answer in this guide to a question you have, leave us a comment below and we’ll search the published studies to see if an answer exists and get back to you.

Let’s get started.

What You Get From This Guide


After learning about the 16 important terpenes in this guide, you’ll have the information to identify subtle scent and taste variations in plants and full spectrum extracts.  These subtle variations in terpene profile will make a qualitative difference in your CBD experience.

You’ll be able to use your knowledge of terpenes to develop an expectation of the effects a specific cannabis strain might have in store for you. And more powerfully, you’ll know the exact scientific reasons why those effects occur. This knowledge is the first step toward developing a CBD and terpene profile that you can tailor with precision to meet your needs.

blue paint on lemon

You’ll be able to speak impressively about the science of terpenes and CBD. You’ll have the ability to help friends make decisions and know how to spot a quality product.

For example, many CBD cannabis strains have a strong citrus smell. Strong lemony scents usually mean a CBD terpene profile is high in the terpene limonene.

limonene terpene cbd hemp


Limonene is known for its uplifting effects. CBD strains high in limonene energize.  Try CBD with limonene prior to strenuous activities where drive and concentration are required. Cannabis strains high in limonene are very good in social situations, too.

Your knowledge about terpenes will be an important part of your CBD buying decisions. Instead of feeling lost, you’ll quickly be able to identify a few key qualities that draw you to a specific CBD variety or product. When you know what works for you and why it works, you’ll be able to repeat that satisfying experience while navigating through the hundreds of CBD varieties available.


Are there really 120 Terpenes?

Yes. Terpene charts show 120 different terpenes are found in CBD plants. (5) Of course, the vast majority of those are only present in trace quantities. This guide gives you practical knowledge about CBD terpenes. We’ve narrowed the list down to 16 important terpenes it will be useful for you to know about.

The 16 terpenes in the list below are the ones that are worth knowing. They affect the way you feel. They also have long term benefits that clinical trials are only starting to describe in full.

Which terpenes of the 16 in this guide are the most important? That’s up to you and your needs. Which have the most health benefits? Keep reading or toggle the table of contents at the top of the page to jump between terpenes.

 Let’s dive in.

Terpene Definition


Cannabis plants make scented compounds called terpenes.  Terpenes are defined as aromatic compounds made by a wide range of plants.  Terpenes are the compounds that give individual cannabis varieties their unique smell and flavor.

hemp terpene properties

Terpenes are mostly created in the flowers—the buds—of cannabis plants. The same terpenes found in high CBD varieties are also found in some fruits and vegetables. There are over 120 known terpenes in cannabis.


terpene health benefits


Terpene Benefits


Some clinical trials have found that terpenes may relieve stress, depression, and insomnia. (1)


cannabidiol terpene study


Terpenes also affect mood and how you feel.

Some terpenes have specific benefits for:

  • inflammation
  • anxiety
  • pain relief

Entourage Effect


Terpenes and terpene oil are often taken together with CBD oil. Some terpenes have a particularly pleasant smell and taste.  Consumers use terpenes as a way to make CBD oil more palatable.

More commonly, consumers mix terpenes and CBD oil together to increase the effects of CBD oil. (2) Terpenes mixed with CBD amplify and target the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids like CBG. There seems to be a cannabis synergy effect that occurs when full-spectrum (terpenes plus CBD) are taken together. This ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ effect is called the cannabinoid entourage effect or cannabis synergy.  It is referred to throughout the medical literature on both CBD and terpenes.

cannabidiol boost benefit

In essence, you want to match the right CBD oil together with the right terpene isolate.  When you do that they each complement the effects of the other and you end up with a significantly boosted and targeted product. If you get the CBD and terpene synergy right, you’ll know it and may have to dial back your dosage.

Interested in trying this out for yourself? Add the terpene linalool to a high-quality CBD oil.  Linalool is found in cannabis but it’s also found in lavender. Studies show that adding linalool to a high-quality CBD oil will give it more than just a pleasant scent, it will make it significantly more relaxing.

Interested in an even more relaxing effect? Something bordering on a sedative effect? Have you heard of CBN (cannabinol)? It’s another natural cannabinoid similar to CBD. It’s thought to have the strongest sedative effects of all the known cannabinoids. It’s can be a useful cannabinoid for someone looking for ways to manage sleep-onset insomnia.

Read this guide about CBN:

anti-anxiety terpene sedative


If your goal in taking CBD oil is achieving a super-relaxing effect, you can try looking for a strain high in the terpene terpineol or try adding terpineol isolate to your CBD oil.

Terpineol is believed to cause the “couch-lock effect” for which Indica cannabis strains are famous.  (3)  Indica varieties of cannabis are often high in the terpene terpineol.

As we touched on earlier, cannabinoids (like CBD and CBN) work together with terpenes to produce strong effects. That’s called cannabis synergy.  It was a concept that started to get attention in the medical community when clinical trials failed to reproduce the strong effects of some cannabinoids are known for.

Cannabis synergy is usually the reason full-spectrum hemp extracts have stronger effects than cannabinoid isolates. (4)

terpene cannabidiol synergy



Cannabis Terpene Profile


Along with flavonoids, the smell and taste of a cannabis plant variety usually come from its terpene profile. Variations in the terpene profile cause unique effects, directly and indirectly. Terpenes have their own direct effects that result from ingesting them. But, terpenes also have effects by way of their interaction with cannabinoids (like CBD and others). While this terpene guide can give you an idea of the effects of terpenes, finding the best terpene and cannabinoid profile for you is always going to be a process of trial and error.

Learn which CBD cannabis strains will keep your head clear and productive.  Check this guide  to CBD cannabis varieties:

anti-anxiety terpene profile

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Limonene Terpene


Limonene is one of the most common terpenes found in CBD cannabis. It’s also found in citrus fruits.


limonene smells similar to citrus and lemons


Clinical trials have found that the scent of limonene has a measurable uplifting effect on mood. CBD cannabis with high levels of limonene is frequently recommended by budtenders for social occasions.


terpene benefits uplifting effects


The terpene limonene is fast-acting. It provides a quick pick-me-up and a subtle mood lift. (6)

Cannabis strains high in limonene are easily identified by their lemon-like smell and taste.

Medical trials have shown that cannabis strains with pleasant-smelling terpenes (like limonene) may make you feel happier specifically during stressful situations. (7)


terpene effects guide


You may want to try mixing limonene with different cannabinoids (other than CBD). Maybe try limonene with CBG (cannabigerol)?

The combination of the limonene and CBG has synergistic effects.  Taken together, they can be both relaxing for the body and uplifting for mood.  CBG is the only known cannabinoid that has been shown to affect how the body uptakes a specific type of adrenaline called noradrenaline. Adrenaline is believed to play an important role in hypervigilance which is a symptom of anxiety.

The amplified effects from mixing limonene with CBG is a good example of what’s known as the terpene entourage effect.


Limonene Entourage Effect


Entourage Effect definition: Terpenes and cannabinoids (like CBD and CBG) taken together amplify and target the benefits of each compound. (8)

In essence, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  The entourage effect is also called “cannabis synergy.” Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids produced by cannabis plants are known to have an intensifying effect when taken together.

cannabidiol terpene synergy


Maximizing the terpene entourage effect will help you to get the most benefit from your CBD and help you use CBD oil most efficiently.

According to the medical study below, the Entourage effect (cannabis synergy) effectively increases the strength of your CBD products. (9)


terpene entourage effect example


As you can see from the terpene profile for the Kashmir Blue strain, breeders of medical cannabis selectively cross plants for cannabinoid and terpene traits.


limonene hemp terpene


Talking specifically about the terpene limonene, medical studies show cannabis strains with significant quantities of limonene fight stress, anxiety, depression. Interestingly, studies of animals show that limonene even boosts confidence in stressful situations. (10)


terpene chemovar strain breeding


Limonene Health Benefits


Some medical studies show limonene may have cancer-preventive properties for breast cancer and colorectal cancers. (11)


terpene health benefits


Additionally, Limonene has strong anti-inflammatory properties that may be good for everything from arthritis to premature brain aging.

Limonene’s anti-inflammatory and cholesterol dissolving properties may be helpful to cardiovascular health. Limonene may benefit gut disorders like Colitis and Crohn’s disease as well. (12)


terpene heart benefit


Several medical studies show Limonene may reduce heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) which can be an important consideration for someone consuming hemp oils. (13)


limonene heartburn effects


Though unproven, it is widely thought limonene has benefits for weight control and skincare. Interested in using CBD in your skincare routine? This 2020 medical study shows CBD cream has potential skincare benefits for inflammatory skin conditions and scarring.


terpene health benefits



Limonene Adverse Effects


If you like citrus fruits, you are already consuming some amount of the terpene limonene.

Limonene is considered to have low human toxicity and minimal to no adverse effects in normal consumption patterns. (14)

limonene terpene toxicity

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Myrcene Terpene


Are you researching CBD and terpenes because of anxiety? Myrcene is the first terpene you should try.


Myrcene Smell And Taste

Myrcene is found in several CBD cannabis strains. It’s also found in high concentrations in fruits like mango. Myrcene makes up a substantial percentage of the essential oil that can be distilled from cannabis.


If your CBD flower has a “fruity” scent, it’s likely myrcene you’re smelling.

Myrcene Entourage Effect

Try mixing myrcene isolate with a cannabinoid like CBD or CBG. It may boost the relaxing and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of both compounds for you. (15)

terpene anti-anxiety benefits


Myrcene helps your body uptake and make use of cannabinoids like CBD more effectively.


According to the medical study above, myrcene helps extend and intensify the benefits of cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG. (16)

Myrcene doesn’t only increase the effectiveness of cannabinoids, it has significant mood and body benefits of its own.


Myrcene Health Benefits

Myrcene has been used for centuries in traditional medicines to relieve pain. (17)


myrcene cannabidiol therapy

Beyond pain relief, myrcene has anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties. When present in high doses, myrcene may act as a powerful sedative. (18) Myrcene isolate taken with CBN (cannabinol) have been reported to have sedative effects comparable to strong sedatives like valium.


anti-anxiety terpene mood benefits


Is myrcene the terpene that causes the sedative “couch-lock” effect in Indica strains of cannabis? Some scientists think so but we believe in other evidence that points to the couch-lock effect being caused by the terpene terpineol. (19) The debate continues…


sedative effect


CBD and myrcene isolate taken together help fight anxiety.


myrcene entourage effect


If insomnia is something you’re trying to manage, taking myrcene isolate with CBN may help you with a type of insomnia called sleep onset-insomnia. In many cases, sleep-onset insomnia is closely related to anxiety. Or, if you’ve had a particularly crushing day, you might try adding myrcene to your evening routine for relaxation. CBD oil mixed with myrcene should make you pleasantly ready for a restful evening.

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Linalool Terpene


CBD with the terpene linalool is a natural way to restore composure.


Linalool Smell and Taste

Linalool is a lavender-scented terpene found in herbs and

the terpene linalool has a scent similar to lavender
Linalool is found in over 200 species of plants making it one the most abundant terpenes. Some fruits and vegetables contain very high concentrations of linalool so it’s something you are most likely already consuming in some format.
linalool properties

Linalool Traditional Medicine

Linalool has been used by people throughout history as a traditional medicine.
It is non-toxic to humans in common dosages though it can be an eye and skin irritant at very high concentrations. (20) Within the body, linalool breaks down and is expelled quickly.

terpene adverse effects
Linalool has remarkable health benefits. Its effects are reported to range from anti-anxiety results to anti-bacterial attributes. (21)

linalool health benefits
Linalool is already used in many household products you’re familiar with. It is used as a scenting agent in products like soap, shampoo, and skin care cream.

linalool uses
As with lavender, linalool has a natural sedative effect. According to the medical study below, linalool is good for eliminating daily stress and anxiety. (22)

linalool anxiety benefits
Multiple studies have found that linalool is effective at fighting anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (23)
linalool anxiety treatment

Linalool Cancer Benefits

Linalool boosts the immune system and has promising cancer-fighting effects.
Medical studies show linalool may help kill cancer cells and provide protection from tumors. (24)

linalool cancer benefits

Linalool Immune Booster

Studies suggest linalool boosts the immune system by breaking down stress. Stress can severely impact the immune system and its ability to fight off pathogens. In fact, lack of sleep and stress-induced inflammation are precursors to infection. (25) Linalools reported ability to decrease stress may have positive impacts on the overall good functioning of your immune system.

terpene stress anxiety benefits
Linalool is also believed by doctors to affect the distribution of white blood cells. White blood cells are your body’s immune system response to infection. So, this terpene may put your immune system in a better position to repel infection at its earliest stages. Linalool works with your body to more effectively use its own defenses. That’s the key idea.

Linalool And Your Endocannabinoid System

‘Boosting your body’s own regulatory systems’ is a frequent theme with terpenes and CBD. Reinforcing the good functioning of your natural regulatory systems is central to CBD and terpene benefits. (26)

linalool health benefits
The reason CBD has such wide ranging effects is that it mimics a naturally occurring signaling chemical your body already makes.  CBD mimics a chemical called anandamide.  Anandamide is used in your body’s endocannabinoid system to send on/off signals to regulatory subsystems throughout your body. When you consume CBD, you effectively boost your body’s natural signaling system. Your body recognizes CBD as if were the “endogenous cannabinoid” anandamide and regulatory subsystems throughout your body turn on and off accordingly.

linalool cannabidiol benefits
Your endocannabinoid system is critical to your overall health. Its improper function has been linked to several chronic conditions including chronic pain, inflammation, and anxiety.


terpene medical study nih
Terpenes and CBD increase the effectiveness of your endocannabinoid system. (27) Terpenes together with CBD have the power to restore balance. They make your ECS work better and the result is you feel better.

Linalool Safety And Toxicity

Linalool’s side effects are few. It is not known to be toxic to humans except in extremely high quantities. Linalool is considered a generally safe compound when used as a food additive according to the FDA. (28)

linalool adverse effects

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Pinene Terpene


Do you enjoy the scent of cannabis? Would you describe it as piney? That’s the scent is the smell of the terpene pinene.  Pinene is one of the most common terpenes found in CBD cannabis varieties.

Pinene Smell And Taste

Pinene is responsible for the distinctive pine-like scent in cannabis strains.

the terpene pinene is responsible for the pine-like scent in cannabis

If you were to inspect the terpene profile of nearly any famous cannabis variety, it’d be a good bet that pinene would be one of the dominant terpenes represented. Click on the terpene profile below for Suver Haze.  You’ll see that the two forms of pinene present make up almost half of the total detectable profile.

Cannabidiol terpene profile


Like other terpenes, pinene is found in many plant species beyond cannabis. Pinene is a major component of essential oils from sage. Pinene is also present in foods such as pine nuts. Surprisingly, pinene is also present in orange peels, rosemary, dill, and basil.


Pinene Health Benefits

According to a 2017 medical study, pinene has significant anti-inflammatory properties. In laboratory studies, pinene appears to have cancer benefits as well. Pinene showed anti-tumor effects on lymphocytes as well as anti-metastatic properties that may be applicable to melanoma type cancers. Of course, this is early-stage research into pinene cancer benefits and should not be misconstrued as a treatment of any sort.  



Pinene’s anti-inflammatory properties may help relieve pain caused by inflammation. (29)

pinene analgesic benefit


Mixing CBD with pinene will likely make your CBD taste better—that’s no small feat with some extracts. But even more importantly, it will likely increase the benefits to you from each compound. (30)

Here again, the potent entourage effect (also called cannabis synergy) appears to be at work for your benefit.

phytocannabinoid entourage effect

Pinene taken together with full-spectrum CBD has stronger anti-inflammatory properties than consumed alone or as part of a regular diet. This is likely due to advantageous interactions with additional cannabinoids like CBD and CBG. (31)

Some additional benefits of pinene identified in medical literature may include a bronchodilator effect that can open lung airways.

pinene health study


CBD mixtures high in pinene fight stress and anxiety as well. Medical studies have identified anti-anxiety-like effects in animals when pinene was present in higher than normal concentrations. (32)


Medical studies suggest pinene has significant benefits for hard to treat pain with broad clinical applications described as a potential anesthetic effect. (33)

terpene pain relief therapy


While pinene appears to have benefits for difficult to treat pain, it not the only terpene with important abilities to decrease pain sensation.  The terpene caryophyllene included in this guide has been identified as having significant relieving properties in several medical studies. 

pinene pain benefit


These known benefits are just the beginning. Pinene is believed by many in the medical community to have vast therapeutic potential. (34)


pinene health benefits

Pinene appears to have antioxidant benefits, anticoagulant properties, gastrointestinal benefits, and an impressively long list of potential benefits as described in the 2019 medical study above. That’s quite a wide range of health benefits from one terpene.

Without a doubt, pinene is one of the best terpenes to look for when choosing a CBD variety or product. Luckily, pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes in CBD cannabis.

The 2019 study below calls pinene a “miracle” compound for its potential therapeutic benefits. (35)



Given Pinene’s list of benefits, that’s hard to argue with…

Pinene Dosage

CBD Cannabis with terpene profiles high in pinene will have different effects on different people.
Pinene is consumed regularly in fruits and vegetables and believed to have minimal side effects when consumed in quantities you’d expect to find in food or cannabis.

pinene dosage safety
That said, start off slowly if you are using any sort of extract or terpene isolate. See how pinene interacts with your specific body chemistry. Overtime increase or decrease your pinene dose as you feel appropriate.

Confused about CBD dosages?  There’s a CBD dosage guide right here.


pinene terpene dosage

Pinene Adverse Effects

Pinene has minimal side effects when consumed as food. There is some guidance on inhalation hazards but not in dose ranges you could expect to find in cannabis or hemp plant material.
The dose ranges mentioned in the guidance mostly refer to industrial applications of pinene. (36)

terpene adverse effects

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Caryophyllene Terpene


Are you dealing with chronic pain? Well, you’re in good company. 50 million Americans struggle with pain on a daily basis. Sure, opiates will take away the pain but at what cost? At what danger to your life and family? The good news is caryophyllene has some benefits for pain relief you might want to consider. It is also very safe.

Also known as Humulene, Caryophyllene is a terpene found in CBD cannabis.


caryophyllene is a terpene found in cannabis and hops


Caryophyllene Smell And Taste

Caryophyllene’s flavor can be a bit spicy. It is found in spices like black pepper, hops, cloves, basil, and rosemary. The scent of caryophyllene is similar to black pepper.

Caryophyllene is one of the safest terpenes to consume  The FDA considers caryophyllene a “generally safe” substance as a food additive.

terpene caryophyllene description


Caryophyllene For Pain


Taking caryophyllene as part of a CBD product has significant benefits.

One of caryophyllene main benefits is its effect on hard-to-treat pain. (38)

caryophyllene analgesic benefit

According to the 2013 study below, caryophyllene has substantial pain-relieving properties when taken together with cannabinoids like CBD or CBG. (39)


terpene medical study health benefits


Caryophyllene’s pain-relieving properties are amplified when consumed orally with CBD. This is an example of cannabis synergy where cannabis compounds taken together have a benefit beyond that of the constituent compounds when taken individually.  According to the study below, caryophyllene and CBD appear to be promising candidates for treating chronic pain due to the high safety profile of each and the low occurrence of adverse effects. (40)

cannabidiol caryophyllene entourage


Caryophyllene For Inflammation

Caryophyllene also has significant anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, its anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to protect the brain from premature aging in animal studies. (41)

The 2019 study below says caryophyllene may be helpful for neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and age related cognitive decline.

caryophyllene anti-inflammatory effects

Caryophyllene’s benefits likely result from its ability to activate the CB2 receptor. The CB2 receptor is an important part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) The CB2 receptor is the same part of the nervous system that CBD activates so it would stand to reason that the two might be complementary when taken together.

Activation of the CB2 receptor may have benefits for treating multiple sclerosis as well. (42)

terpene health benefits

The endocannabinoid system is an important part of your larger nervous system. It is the signaling system that turns on and off other important regulatory subsystems throughout your body. Your endocannabinoid system is present throughout your brain, spine, and extremities.

Caryophyllene, like CBD, appears to function as a signaling compound within your endocannabinoid system. It relays on/off regulatory signals throughout your greater nervous system. When your endocannabinoid system is functioning properly, it keeps your body in good working order and homeostatic balance.  It is believed that CBD and terpenes like caryophyllene have the ability to increase signaling within your endocannabinoid system by reacting with specialized receptors called CB2 receptors.  In this way, they have far reaching effects and help to return your body to balance by turning on and off regulatory subsystems.  That’s the key to how CBD and certain terpenes work to make you feel better.

Interested in learning more about the endocannabinoid system? Check out this guide.


cbd endocannabinoid system guide based on 2020 medical studies

Caryophyllene Neuroprotective Effects

Caryophyllene has significant abilities to protect the brain.  It may even have benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia. (43)


terpene health benefits

Its effects on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease result from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (44)

terpene health study

More study is needed to determine the exact benefits that caryophyllene may have for neurodegenerative diseases and whether or not it could be considered as part of a course of treatment in the future.



Caryophyllene For Addiction

Caryophyllene may help those with opioid dependence. Kind of like the cannabis synergy effect, caryophyllene increases the analgesic effects of low dose narcotic painkillers. (45)

caryophyllene painkiller benefit

The benefit of caryophyllene in this context is that individuals consuming opiates can take smaller doses of narcotics but receive the same or greater painkilling effect. Ideally, this would decrease the likelihood of developing a dependency on narcotic painkillers because the overall dose of narcotic could be modulated down when taken with caryophyllene.

Increased pain relief from opiates taken with caryophyllene is a result of the terpene’s interaction with the CB2 receptor.

terpene analgesic benefit

Additionally, the anti-inflammatory benefits of caryophyllene may help gut and bowel disorders (such as IBS). In animal studies of Colitis, caryophyllene reduced symptoms and sped recovery. (46)

caryophyllene IBD benefit


Caryophyllene Entourage Effect

Caryophyllene is frequently mentioned in medical literature in connection with the terpene entourage effect and cannabis synergy. The entourage effect maximizes both terpene and cannabinoid benefits. (47) Consumed with cannabinoids like CBD and CBG, caryophyllene has powerful synergistic effects that may lead to decreased inflammation, pain, and other benefits. 


hemp entourage effect


Consume CBD more 394% more efficiently: According to a 2019 medical study, dabbing CBD wax or rosin is the most effective way to consume CBD.  See exactly how dabbing compares to smoking CBD flower here.


Caryophyllene Adverse Effects

The FDA considers caryophyllene is one of the safest terpenes. (37) Caryophyllene, like most terpenes, is recognized by the FDA as being a generally safe substance with minimal side effects when consumed as food.

terpene adverse effects

terpene adverse effects

And lastly an interesting fact about caryophyllene, it’s the scent drug-sniffing dogs are trained to key on when searching for cannabis.

caryophyllene fact

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Terpinene Terpene


Terpinene is one of the more exotic terpenes found in CBD cannabis. It’s found in many cannabis strains but only in lesser concentrations. It is very uncommon for a cannabis variety to have terpinene as one of its top three terpenes in its profile.

Terpinene isolate can also be distilled from the spices marjoram and cardamom.

terpinene terpene smells similar to cardamom

Terpinene Smell And Taste

Terpinene isolate is a colorless liquid that smells like turpentine.
It’s found infrequently in fruits and vegetables but is in cannabis strains.
Terpinene has several industrial applications where it’s used as a scenting agent.

terpinene smell taste

Terpinene Health Benefits

According to this May 2019 medical study, terpinene has anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. User benefit from terpinene is usually derived from its use in topical CBD creams. Because of its anti-bacterial properties, terpinene may have benefits for treating acne and atopic dermatitis topically. (48)

terpene skincare medical study
According to a 2018 study, when terpinene is consumed as part of smoking cannabis, it may have mild anxiety-causing effects.  (49) If you’re prone to anxiety, especially anxiety caused by cannabis, you may want to avoid CBD varieties with high levels of terpinene. Guaiol is another terpene believed to have anxiety-causing effects that can be found in this guide. 

terpene anxiety chemovar
A 2018 survey of medical marijuana consumers reports CBD cannabis with terpinene to have anxiety-causing effects along with the terpenes, guaiol, eucalyptol, phellandrene, carene, and sabinene.

terpene anxiety benefits

If you’re interested in CBD cannabis and its significant effects on anxiety, check out this CBD Anxiety Guide.

terpene medical research

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Guaiol Terpene


Guaiol (pronounced “gweye-all”) is an alcohol-based terpene found in CBD cannabis. It’s also found in cypress pines. Guaiol is not a major constituent terpene in most CBD cannabis profiles.  It is worth noting that several popular varieties contain guaiol in low concentrations and this terpene has some important effects you’re going to want to take note of.

guaiol terpene characteristics


Guaiol Smell And Taste

Guaiol’s smell is described as a fresh, woody, piney scent.  Some say this terpinene’s scent also has higher flowery notes described as hints of rose.

guaiol characteristics


Guaiols flavor is fruity and sweet. It is often described as having a flavor similar to sweet plums.

terpene guaiol has a similar taste to red plums


Guaiol Health Benefits

Guaiol is a traditional medicine with a long history in Chinese medicine.  Guaiol was used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. (50) Historically, guaiol has been used to treat diseases such as Gout, Arthritis, and the common sore throat. It was also believed to have the ability to lower high blood pressure but there is scant evidence to support that historical claim.


guaiol antibiotic benefit


Guaiol: Promising Cancer Benefits

In more modern times, guaiol has been investigated for its potential cancer-fighting properties. The 2016 medical study below reports that guaiol may have anticancer benefits for non-small cell lung cancer. (51)


terpene lung cancer benefit




Guaiol Anxiety Effects

In 2018, a study of medical cannabis patients correlated survey responses from patients at a single Canadian medical cannabis dispensary with the known terpene profiles of cannabis varieties they were consuming.

The goal of this study was to correlate reported effects with specific terpenes in a statistically significant way. The study found guaiol correlated with increased feelings of anxiety. This information is of special importance to CBD cannabis consumers because so many come to CBD as a way to decrease anxiety.

It would appear that guaiol is an important terpene to avoid if you are attempting to manage anxiety with CBD cannabis.

terpene anxiety effects


terpene anxiety effects


Interested in scientific studies on CBD and terpenes for anxiety? Check out the latest medical evidence of CBD effects on anxiety.

guaiol anxiogenic effect




Guaiol Effects On Pain

Guaiol appears to be a terpene you’ll also want to avoid if you’re looking into CBD cannabis for pain. Guaiol is reported to have “anti-analgesic” effects in a 2018 medical study in the journal Frontiers In Neuroscience. This means guaiol may block the painkilling effects of CBD, cannabinoids, and other painkillers. (52)

terpene painkiller properties


How strong is CBD’s painkilling effect? The latest information is here: CBD for Pain Relief.

guide to cannabidiol benefits for pain based on 2020 medical studies


Different types of pains call for different CBD delivery mechanisms. CBD for pain can be delivered orally via an exact or topically in a CBD cream.

In the next sections, you’ll find out how to make CBD cream significantly more effective with the terpene trans-nerolidol. 


limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Trans-nerolidol Terpene

Want to know how to make your cream more effective for pain? CBD topicals with trans-nerolidol increase how much CBD is absorbed through the skin and into your body. Trans-nerolidol helps compounds like CBD penetrate the skin and cross the skin barrier more efficiently. So, adding trans-nerolidol to your CBD cream might make your cream more effective against pain and increase the benefits to you overall.

terpene skin benefits

Nerolidol Smell And Taste

Trans-nerolidol is found in low quantities in just a few CBD cannabis strains. Nerolidol is considered one of the more exotic and rarely encountered terpenes in cannabis. Nerolidol is prevalent in nature, though. It can be found in jasmine, ginger, lavender, and the tea-tree.

Nerolidol’s smell is described as a fresh woody scent similar to fresh tree bark. It’s taste is fruit-like with some consumers describing the taste as being similar to citrus.

terpene nerolidol properties

Nerolidol Uses

Nerolidol has some uses in industrial applications and is cooking. Nerolidol is safe when consumed as a food flavoring agent and in cosmetics. (53)

terpene skin care

Nerolidol Health Benefits

Trans-nerolidol may help amplify the pain-relieving effects of topical CBD application. Trans-nerolidol has properties that help organic compounds like CBD penetrate the skin. According to a 2016 medical study in the journal Molecules, CBD creams with trans-nerolidol may have increased absorption efficiency. (54)

terpene skin benefits
In fact, nerolidol is such a potent skin-penetrating agent that it can increase efficiency of CBD absorption through the skin and dispersal by up to 1956%!

terpene skincare benefits

That means the addition of a single terpene to your CBD cream may make all the ingredients more effective at fighting pain and give you the ability to use them more cost-effectively. Additionally, trans-nerolidol has benefits of its own. Nerolidol is a powerful anti-oxidant. (55)

terpene health benefits
Trans-nerolidol has anti-microbial benefits which appear to be especially good at killing drug-resistant bacteria strains like Staph. Nerolidol also may be helpful for certain skin conditions caused by hard-to-treat bacterial infections. (56)

terpene health benefits
Nerolidol has strong antifungal benefits, too. Nerolidol fights both human and plant fungal diseases. (57)

terpene health study
The same 2016 medical study showed nerolidol has anti-cancer properties in animal models. Nerolidol’s cancer-fighting properties have not yet been tested clinically in humans. (58) More study is needed to determine whether or not nerolidol has cancer benefits in humans for specific types f cancer.

terpene cancer benefits

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Bisabolol Terpene


Do you have difficulty sleeping?

Severe difficulty sleeping can be a condition called insomnia.  There are two types of insomnia: sleep-onset insomnia and sleep-maintenance insomnia. Sleep-maintenance insomnia is the difficulty staying asleep for a full restful night of sleep. It is usually caused by a secondary condition waking you up prematurely. Pain is a common cause of sleep-maintenance insomnia. CBD is often good at helping this type of insomnia because of its effects on pain.

Sleep-onset insomnia means that you can’t get to sleep in the first place. This type of insomnia is characterized by hours wasted tossing and turning trying to get to sleep. Sleep-onset insomnia is often caused by anxiety. Anxiety can sometimes present as not being able to slow down a racing mind long enough to let sleep take hold.  This is where the terpene bisabolol comes in handy.

the terpene bisabolol has a similar smell and taste as chamomile

Bisabolol mixed with a CBD tea in the evening can be an excellent addition to your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a term used for people who have difficulty sleeping or insomnia. It refers to different techniques you can use when you’re getting close to bedtime that will help you sleep. These techniques include less blue light from computer screens and calming inputs such as warm chamomile tea or a CBD tea with terpenes like linalool or bisabolol.

Bisabolol is not found in many plants. Fortunately, it is one of the terpenes that can be found in several CBD cannabis varieties.


Bisabolol Smell and Taste

Bisabolol is the primary ingredient in essential oils from chamomile flowers. It has a weak flowery scent and a taste that is mild and sweet. Bisabolol had been used for centuries as a scenting agent in cosmetics because it was believed to have skin healing properties.

bisabolol terpene properties


Bisabolol Health Benefits

According to the 2014 medical study below, bisabolol has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.  (59)  Bisabolol skin benefits may be useful in treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. (60)

bisabolol health benefits


Bisabolol For Cosmetics

Bisabolol has been used in skincare remedies for hundreds of years. Recently, bisabolol anti-irritant and skin healing benefits have been recognized by the modern cosmetics industry. (62) Bisabolol appears to have several benefits for treating skin conditions such as insect bites, wounds, some rashes, and general skin irritation.

bisabolol skincare benefits

Bisabolol Adverse Effects

According to a 2013 study, in rare cases bisabolol has caused contact allergies while being used for skin inflammatory conditions. If you have had reactions to chamomile, then there is a good chance you may be allergic to bisabolol as it is the main active ingredient in chamomile containing products.  In general, it’s a good idea to proceed slowly when trying new terpenes and cautiously approach your target dosage.

terpene side effects allergy

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Carene Terpene


Carene’s main benefit may be its anti-inflammatory properties.  The terpene carene is found in some high CBD cannabis varieties. Carene is also found in cedar trees, pine trees, bell peppers, and basil.

terpene carene is found in cannabis and basil


Carene Smell And Taste

Carene’s taste is fresh piney with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Carene’s smell is described as sweet. Some say the smell of carene is reminiscent of wet woodlands and Cypress trees. 


carene terpene properties


Carene For Cosmetics

Delta 3 Carene, a variant of carene, is used in cosmetics because it is believed to have natural antihistamine effects. Carene has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that may make suitable for individuals with arthritis. (61)

In the study published in The Journal Parmazie, carene was examined as a potential treatment for acute skin inflammation. (62)

terpene inflammation treatment


Carene Health Benefits

In animal models, Delta 3 Carene has shown significant bone healing benefits. (63) These benefits may translate to be helpful to individuals with osteoporosis or arthritis though further study is needed to prove efficacy.


carene bone health

In the published medical studies, delta 3 Carene has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial benefits. (64)

carene health benefits

Though yet to be fully understood, delta 3 carene appears to help with memory creation and retention. Hopefully, carene may have an impact on future treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Eucalyptol Terpene


Eucalyptol is found in small quantities in CBD cannabis. Eucalyptol is also found in sweet basil, bay leaves, wormwood, rosemary, and common sage. Eucalyptol is known for having respiratory and anti-inflammatory properties. Along with the terpene guaiol, eucalyptol has been correlated with potential anxiety-causing effects.


Eucalyptol Smell And Taste

It has a minty smell that is also slightly spicy. The taste of eucalyptol is described as cooling.

eucalyptol properties


Eucalyptol has several uses but is most commonly used as a scenting agent in cosmetics and fragrances. Eucalyptol is also used as a flavoring agent in commercial bake goods.



terpene eucalyptol is used to flavor baked goods


Eucalyptol Health Benefits


When eucalyptol is found in CBD cannabis, it is usually present in very small quantities. Even still, this powerful terpene may have medicinal benefits when consumed in CBD cannabis.

A 2017 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology, found that eucalyptol has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties in animals. (65)

 terpene pain relief

Additionally, eucalyptol (also known as 8-cineole) has been examined for:

  • gastroprotective effects
  • antimicrobial
  • antifungal
  • insecticidal properties  (65)


gastroprotective antimicrobial anti-fungal


Eucalyptol’s most significant health benefit may be its gastroprotective qualities. Eucalyptol causes an increase in gastric mucus production which can be protective of the stomach and intestines. It also seems to promote faster healing of gastric lining tissue. (66)

terpene ulcer benefit

That said, Eucalyptol makes up less than .06% of the complete terpene profile of most cannabis strains. If you are interested in consuming larger quantities use due caution. Eucalyptol can be toxic if consumed in larger quantities.


Eucalyptol Adverse Effects

Although it is used as a flavoring agent in baked goods, eucalyptol can be toxic if ingested in larger quantities.

eucalyptol terpene toxicity


Interested in learning more about the safety and toxicity of eucalyptol? Click on the European Commission guide below for detailed information about eucalyptol toxicity in humans.

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

 Camphene Terpene


Camphene is a terpene found in CBD cannabis. It has a musky earth smell and can be found in camphor oil, citronella oil, sage oil, and ginger oil. Camphene has been investigated in several medical studies for its potential heart disease benefits when taken with CBD as well as significant antitumor and antioxidant properties. While camphene is present in some CBD cannabis, it is usually present in small concentrations.


Camphene Smell And Taste

Camphene’s smell is similar to damp-woodlands. Camphene does not have a pleasant taste.  It has been described as tasting something like kerosene oil.  

camphene terpene has a damp woodland smell and can be found in ginger


Camphene Health Benefits


Camphene has several promising health benefits being researched. Camphene may inhibit the growth of aggressive melanoma cancers. Camphene “exerted antitumor activity in vivo by inhibiting subcutaneous tumor growth of highly aggressive melanoma cells” in a 2015 medical study. (67)


terpene skin benefits

Camphene has shown strong antioxidant effects. It may have applications in lung inflammatory diseases where oxidative stress is “a critical control point.”  (68)

camphene inflammation benefit


Applied topically in a CBD cream, Camphene may help inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. (69)


terpene skin inflammation disease benefits


According to the 2016 medical study below, taken orally with a CBD tincture camphene lowers triglycerides and cholesterol.


terpene cardiovascular benefit


Since these factors contribute to heart disease, it is believed that camphene, may be a treatment for cardiovascular disease. (70)


terpene heart health

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

 Borneol Terpene


Borneol is one of the most unusual terpenes found in CBD cannabis. Borneol has been used for more than a thousand years in traditional Chinese medicine.  Impressive new research in a 2017 medical study shows borneol may help other compounds, like cannabinoids, cross the blood-brain barrier. This means borneol may be an important “helper” compound that makes other compounds more effective.

borneol terpene history


Borneol Smell and Taste

Both Borneol’s taste and smell are described as spicy and minty. Borneol is found in mint, rosemary, and cannabis


terpene borneol is found in cannabis mint and rosemary



Borneol Health Benefits

Relatively few peer-reviewed medical studies on the health benefits of borneol exist. One study suggests that borneol (taken together with conventional cancer treatments) may aid in the treatment of specific types of ovarian cancer. (71)


terpene cancer benefit


Though borneol has been ignored by western medicine, it has been used as a type of circulation aid in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 1500 years. Borneol was used to help regain consciousness in “cases of coma, heart attack, stroke, traumatic brain injury and other brain-related emergency conditions.” (72)

borneol circulatory treatment


In a 2017 study, borneol was found to aid the delivery of drugs to the brain by helping them cross the blood-brain barrier. (72)


borneol health benefits


This means borneol may help deliver a more effective dose of medicine to the brain while protecting it from disease. The 2017 medical study states that the blood-brain barrier “opening effect of borneol is a reversible physiological process characterized by rapid and transient penetration through the BBB and highly specific brain regional distribution.” (73)

borneol health benefits


In acupuncture, borneol is considered to have a wide range of health benefits including:

  • digestive aid
  • help with heart function
  • aid in circulation.


Borneol Adverse Effects

Borneol isolate is an eye and skin irritant and should be handled with care. Natural borneol is widely used in cosmetics and does not pose a toxicity hazard. In my research, I have not come across any reports of adverse effects from the small concentrations of natural borneol present in some CBD cannabis.

terpene toxicity side effects

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

 Terpineol Terpene


Some think terpineol is responsible for the “couch-lock effect” associated with Indica dominant cannabis. The couch-lock effect is a colorful description of the strong sedative effect some have after consuming cannabis. Terpineol is a monoterpene alcohol. It is found in pine oil as well as CBD cannabis.


terpineol sources



Terpineol Smell and Taste

Terpineol is a colorless liquid. It has a floral scent that is described as similar to lilacs and apple blossoms. Terpineol is used as a scenting agent in fragrances due to its pleasant odor. Terpineol has a sweet and slightly fruity flavor.

terpineol terpenes are found in CBD cannabis strains

Terpineol for Relaxation

As one might expect, terpineol is very relaxing with powerful sedative properties. A 2011 medical study described terpineol as a “potent suppressor of the central nervous system” that elongated sleep time when inhaled.  (74)


terpineol insomnia benefit

While some terpenes derive their relaxing effects simply by virtue of their pleasant scent, terpineol’s sedative effects are caused by its chemical structure. Unlike the terpene linalool which derives its relaxing effect from its association with a pleasant odor, terpineol’s sedative effects result from the absorption of the compound into the bloodstream. (75)

Interested in experiencing the strongest relaxing effects from cannabinoids? Combining CBN (cannabinol) and terpineol isolate will have strong anti-anxiety and sleep-promoting effects.


CBN cannabinol benefits



Terpineol Health Benefits

Terpineol may inhibit the growth of some tumors. Terpineol showed “significant cytotoxic activity in the small cell lung carcinoma cell line, suggesting tumor-specific activity.”  (76)


terpene cancer treatment


Terpineol has anti-inflammatory properties that “suggest that this compound might be potentially interesting in the development of new clinically relevant drugs for the management of painful and/or inflammatory disease.” (77)


terpineol health effects

Terpineol has powerful antifungal properties. It’s high safety profile and low human toxicity means it may be considered a natural food preservative for fresh fruits. (78)

terpene benefits terpineol

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

 Valencene Terpene


Some CBD cannabis is famous for its strong fruit-like scent. If your favorite cannabis varieties have a fruity scent, you’re probably smelling either the terpene valencene or myrcene. When valencene is present in high concentrations,  cannabis takes on a strong tangerine or orange-like scent. Valencene is used in cosmetics as a scenting agent. Valencene also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and antimicrobial properties.


Valencene Smell and Taste

Valencene has a robust citrus smell and flavor. Valencene is found in high concentrations in Valencia oranges.

valencene terpene smells like a valencia orange


Valencene Uses

Due to its appealing scent, the terpene valencene is used in cosmetics and perfumes. Valencene isolate can also act as an insect repellant for ticks and mosquitoes. Studies show valencene’s effectiveness as an insect repellant is similar to the active ingredient in most chemical insect repellents, DEET. (78)


valencene uses


Valencene is currently being investigated for additional health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. Valencene’s significant anti-microbial properties may be especially useful as an ingredient in CBD creams.

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

Geraniol Terpene


Geraniol is the primary component found in rose oil and citronella oil. It’s also a terpene found in several CBD cannabis varieties. Geraniol fruit-like flavor is used in several food products to reproduce the taste of peach, raspberry, grapefruit, apple, plum, and pineapple. Interestingly, geraniol is also produced by the scent gland of several species of honeybees to mark the location of nectar producing flowers.

 geraniol terpene smells like peaches and plums

Geraniol Smell And Taste

Geraniol is a colorless liquid used in several bath products because of its appealing scent. It has a fruity smell described as similar to peaches and plums. Geraniol has a mild fruit-like taste. It is used as a flavoring agent in several food products.

geraniol terpene properties

Geraniol’s scent can also act as a sweet-smelling insect repellent for mosquitos.

geraniol uses



Geraniol Health Benefits

Geraniol’s health benefits are significant and extensive. Geraniol has significant sedative effects and may have neuroprotective properties. According to a 2017 medical study, geraniol may help protect the brain from neurological disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. (79)


geraniol health benefits


According to a 2016 medical study in the International Journal of Oncology, the terpene geraniol may have “therapeutic or preventive” benefits for specific cancers including:

  • breast
  • lung
  • colon
  • prostate
  • pancreatic
  • hepatic

geraniol cancer benefits


Geraniol is believed to be a “multi-target agent” against cancer. Multi-target agents attack cancer cells in several ways as opposed to a single method of attack. According to the medical study, “multi-target therapeutic agents are more efficacious for the treatment of complex diseases, such as cancer, and are less vulnerable to adaptive resistance.” The multitargeting qualities that geraniol possesses for fighting cancer make geraniol less susceptible to adaptive changes cancer cells may make to avoid destruction. (80)

geraniol cancer treatment

In animal models, geraniol appears to have high antioxidant potential. Geraniol has exceptionally high bioavailability. When consumed orally, the peak blood concentration of geraniol occurs 30 mins after consumption and overall bioavailability is 92%. (81)

geraniol oral terpene

limonene terpene graphic displaying limonene molecular structure

 Terpene Side Effects


Terpenes are believed to have few side effects. Terpenes are present in many wild plants and food crops so it is likely you are already consuming a variety of terpenes in your diet. Your regular diet of fruit and vegetable will share many terpenes with cannabis. So, terpenes are nothing new to your body.

Taking CBD and terpene isolates may be new to you. Anytime you try putting something new into your body, you should start off slowly and then modify your dosage depending on how you feel. Everyone is different. You may have an unexpected reaction to terpenes and cannabinoids like CBD. By going slowly, you give yourself the option and the time to adjust your dosage or discontinue taking whatever new addition to your routine that you’ve added.


greenhouse growing cannabis


Now that you know more about the best CBD terpenes, find which ones work for you. Add this guide to your favorites and check back from time to time.

This terpene guide will be updated regularly as new health studies are published.



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