Cannabis Derived Terpenes Demystified

Cannabis Derived Terpenes Demystified

Cannabis is easily one of the most recognizable aromas in the world. While mostly associated with a distinctive skunkiness, the scent of cannabis is complex and diverse. Strain-specific aromas vary from citrusy and acidic to earthy and grass-like. Some even hold surprisingly pleasant gassy and diesel-like, notes. All cannabis strains hold different aromas, flavors, and therapeutic effects because of terpenes.

Here we’ll explore what cannabis derived terpenes are, their uses, and some of the most prevalent terpenes found in popular cannabis strains.

What are cannabis derived terpenes?

CannabisTerpenesWholesaleCannabis derived terpenes are essentially cannabis essential oils, composed of the pure aromatic and flavor essences of the plant. The terpene profile within the essential oil acts as an aromatic fingerprint of a cannabis strain all while containing no THC or psychoactive properties. As with grapes used for wine, there are infinite factors that affect specific terpene profiles, from weather and climate to soil composition and maturity of the plant.

Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant alone. As technology advances in extracting terpenes from cannabis, more companies are looking to reintroduce terpenes into their product lines and offerings.

What are cannabis derived terpenes used for?

cannabis derived terpenes essential oil lab effects

The term “cannabis derived terpenes”, although commonly used, can be misleading as individual terpenes are not commercially isolated out of cannabis. This is for reasons of cost barriers, scalability, and marketability, considering those same isolated terpenes can be pulled from other botanicals. Once in the form of an isolated substance, there is no identifiable difference between terpenes pulled from botanicals versus those that could be derived from cannabis. For that reason, isolated terpenes are derived from other plant sources, while the term “cannabis derived terpene” refers to the complete cannabis essential oil unique to any specific variety, consisting of multiple terpenes in addition to all the other subcomponent parts that make up that “magical unknown”. The non-terpene remainder of the essential oil gives the fractionation its valuable aroma profile.

Cannabis derived terpenes are in high demand and low supply from cannabis manufacturers, as these rich aromas and flavors can be lost or degraded during the extraction process. However, cannabis terpenes can be reintroduced in order to make a finished product taste and smell like the plant in its original form again. Cannabis terpenes are best used if your formulation goal is to make a product that maintains the natural smell and taste of a specific cannabis variety.

Botanical vs. cannabis derived terpenes

Although cannabis derived terpenes are highly desired due to their unique “skunky” aroma, they do present some challenges. For example, they are not ideal for formulations specifically targeting therapeutic effects, as the cannabis essential oil contains many “unknowns” that are not standardized or controlled, which may present competing therapeutic values.

Steam-distilled terpenes sourced from other plants (botanical terpenes) are better utilized in therapeutic formulations, as they are standardized and can produce consistent physiological effects. Botanical terpenes also offer a more scalable solution to production needs, being readily available year round in bulk supply and they require a simpler and more cost-effective extraction process than cannabis terpenes.

Both cannabis and botanically-derived terpenes serve an important role in product formulation, and the best choice for you is bound to vary based on your brand’s specific goals.

Common terpenes found in cannabis

While a vast variety of terpenes are found in the cannabis plant, we see a few usual suspects appear across many strains. Your nose is likely already familiar with these cannabis derived terpenes due to their recognizable signature aromas.

cannabis derived terpenes caryophyllene


  • Aromatic Profile: Woody, spicy
  • Botanical Sources: Black pepper, oregano, lavender, allspice, fig
  • Associated Cannabis Strains: Royal Cookies, White Widow, Death Star, Cookies & Cream
  • Therapeutic Effects: Analgesic, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

cannabis derived terepenes limonene


  • Aromatic Profile: Citrusy, bitter
  • Botanical Sources: Rosemary, mint, fennel, juniper
  • Associated Cannabis Strains: Lemon G, Emerald Jack, Cookies & Cream, Dirty Girl
  • Therapeutic Effects: Antibacterial, antifungal,anti-inflammatory


cannabis derived terpenes alpha pinene molecule lab effects

  • Aromatic Profile: Sharp, sweet, fresh and piny
  • Botanical Sources: Pine and conifer trees, rosemary, orange peels
  • Associated Cannabis Strains: Jack Herer, Dutch Treat, Bubba Kush
  • Therapeutic Effects: Analgesic, antibacterial, antioxidant


  • Aromatic Profile: Fruity, earthy, clove-like
  • Botanical Sources: Sweet basil, hops, mangoscannabis derived terpenes myrcene molecule lab effects
  • Associated Cannabis Strains: OG Kush, 9 Pound Hammer, Tangie, Blue Dream
  • Therapeutic Effects: Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-insomnia

cannabis derived terpenes infographic lab effects


Where to buy cannabis derived terpenes

All of Lab Effects’ cannabis terpenes are derived from Cannabis sativa L., commonly known as industrial hemp. Although hemp and marijuana are from the same species of plant (genus Cannabis), they are distinct forms of cannabis, distinguishable by their genetic and chemical composition, usage, cultivation, and production. By definition, industrial hemp contains “no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis.”

Please use our online wholesale form if you are interested in cannabis derived terpenes or email us at

Terpenes are non-polar oil-based hydrocarbons, that in pure form, can be very potent and sometimes volatile, flammable and even corrosive compounds. For this reason, they are ingredients that should be strictly used by experienced and trained manufacturers and not sold directly to consumers. Some industry resellers do market these substances to consumers in bright colorful bottles with little to no chemical specifications or label warnings. We highly discourage this behavior and advise consumers and businesses who are unfamiliar with these compounds to be careful when purchasing, storing and using them.


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