Terpene Deconstructed

Terpenes Deconstructed

The more we learn more about terpenes, the more it becomes apparent the incredible potential they contain. We discussed in the What Are Terpenes post that there are anywhere from 120 to over 200 unique terpene molecules found in cannabis and hemp (remember these are the same plants). This means there are far more combinations of these molecules than we can even begin to recognize. In this post we dive into the various terpene groups and what we believe their effects on the body are.


Grouping Terpenes is a Difficult Business

Recall that the current classification of terpene combinations is lacking. Strains can be either “Indica” or “Sativa”. But if they don’t really fit into either, the plant is a “Hybrid”. This is unhelpful because there are a huge number of strains with various terpenes. So, this means many fall into the “Hybrid” category. Why is this important?

Terpenes have their own functions. But also, terpenes and cannabinoids work together in what is known as the entourage effect. There is not much research diving into what these different combinations do as groups. Hemp and cannabis are classified as chemotypes I-V. This is based on the cannabinoid content of a plant. When we discuss the different chemotypes by terpene content, it’s not as clear cut. The most prominent terpene determines the category, which can be confusing.


What is a Terpene Profile?

In a terpene profile there are one to three terpenes in higher amounts than the rest. These are the primary terpenes by strain. We also usually see groups of terpenes which are a tier below the primary group. These are terpenes with relatively high concentrations in comparison to the overall profile. However, they’re still not as high as the primary terpene. It is these primary and secondary groups that give us our classes and subclasses.

Why is this so important? We know everyone’s body chemistry is different. People can react differently to chemicals found in certain natural products and essential oils. A lot of these chemicals are actually terpenes which some people can have far greater sensitivity to than others. When using products formulated with hemp and cannabis oils containing terpenes, it is important to understand the specific function of each.

So, what are these specific functions and how do they affect the category? With so many terpenes, it is important to begin to group them together to simplify how we analyse such a huge number of things. In this blog, we begin to break down specific terpenes and groups, and what kind of effects to expect.

The Different Groups of Terpenes

We will start with one of the simpler groups classified as the Terpinolene Group. It is studied for its sedative effects. However, this group can actually cause anxiety in many people. Terpinolene itself may not be the cause of this, but terpinolene rich strains can do more harm than good. This group may also cause high energy and creativity depending on the user.


The next group focuses on the terpene ß-Caryophyllene (known for its peppery aroma and taste). This group can be broken down into various subsets. These secondary terpene groups comprise of different ratios of Limonene (found in citrus) and either Humulene (rich in Hops) or Myrcene (often found in thyme leaves and mangos). All of these terpenes have relaxing effects. Limonene itself can produce a mood lifting property. Meanwhile, myrcene and caryophyllene can be rather sedative.


The next group is the primary terpene pair of Limonene and Myrcene, with secondary terpene groups including mixes of Linalool, Limonene and Myrcene. Linalool is the terpene in Lavender responsible for its delightful smell. It is the main terpene in lavender essential oils responsible for its relaxation benefits. This group is similar to Sedative terpene group above. It also targets relaxing the individual but may not be as sedating.

Mood Lifting 

The next major group is with Myrcene as the primary terpene. The secondary terpenes contain amounts of Pinene (found in pine trees and other conifers), Ocimene (found in mint, parsley, and orchids), and Limonene. Myrcene and limonene possess calming properties.  While adding secondary properties from pinene and ocimene produces mood lifting effects. These terpenes work together to stabilize mood without the heavy sedative effects or the anxiety causing effects of previous groups.


Drew Ford, our Hemp Advisor, says, “While this doesn’t really come close to all the varieties of chemotypes we can classify terpenes in, we are beginning to open to door to understand what these truly special materials can do and how they can accentuate our everyday lives”.

We are quite sure at GreenBox that we will be learning more about terpenes in the future. They could hold the keys to some powerful health benefits.