Do Terpenes Get You High?

Do Terpenes Get You High?

If you’re wondering, “Do terpenes get you high?” The answer is… well, it’s complicated. Terpenes aren’t scientifically proven to cause psychoactive effects as we typically define them. 

However, research has proven that terpenes boost the benefits of chemical compounds such as THC, and THC does produce psychoactive effects.

If you take a more technical meaning of the word “psychoactive,” the answer changes a bit. After all, something doesn’t have to make you feel “stoney” (floaty, giggly, introspective, or attacked with the munchies) – to have a psychoactive effect. 

You can experience significant mood changes just by indulging in your favorite comfort food or lighting a pleasantly scented candle. If you feel happier and more relaxed, something has changed in your body and/or brain. Psychoactivity is really any altered neurochemical state, even if as mild as a reduced heart rate or vivid colors seen from eating a spicy pepper.  

While we may not say terpenes will get you high in the common use of the word “high”, we can identify the known therapeutic potentials and general physiological effects associated with terpenes.

Terpenes and Effects 

While we may all be more familiar with the cannabinoids in cannabis than with terpenes, terpenes have thankfully been studied extensively from other botanical sources. There is a growing body of study about the effects of terpenes in cannabis, although researchers have mainly studied terpenes in regard to their relationship with cannabinoids.

Whether in relation to cannabis or as studied separately, terpenes are associated with a wide range of beneficial physiological effects, including:


Pain relief

Many people use cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain. Cannabis terpenes have also been identified as potential therapeutics for chronic neuropathic pain (1), as well as arthritis pain (2).

Neuroprotective potential

Studies show that beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids, such as linalool, pinene, and CBD, could present a unique opportunity to discover novel medicines to treat psychiatric and neurological illnesses (3).

Gastroprotective effects

The intestinal anti-inflammatory profile of terpenes has been reviewed in experimental models related to inflammatory bowel diseases, specifically to reduce symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Results suggest the therapeutic potential of natural products such as terpenes can be a source for the development of new therapeutic agents, thanks to their gastroprotective effects (4).

Mental health support

Anxiety and depression have both been targets of terpene-related research in mice and have yielded much hope for future pharmacological studies. Terpenes that are strong CB2 receptor agonists have been found to reduce both anxiety and depression symptoms (5).

Anti-inflammatory possibilities

Several studies have demonstrated that certain terpenes could reduce inflammation symptoms by decreasing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This could spell great things for the future use of terpenes as natural anti-inflammatories (6).

So, can terpenes get you high? While you won’t feel anything like a THC high, there is evidence that terpenes can lead to a relaxed and happy, even giggly, mood. There’s also some support for the idea that terpenes can make you laugh

But before we dig further into terpenes and any additional effects, let’s discuss how we can get terpenes out of the cannabis plant.

What Are Weed Terpenes?

Weed terpenes are just terpenes produced by cannabis plants. More than 200 known terpenes have been discovered in this species, including myrcene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene.

In the industry, weed terpenes are sold under many names, including cannabis-derived terpenes (CDTs). These have been literally pulled from actual cannabis plants with steam distillation. You might also see these also called “cannabis essential oils.”

Another term that gets thrown around quite a bit is live resin terpenes. But, unfortunately, this label confuses matters.

Technically, the term live resin comes from the world of cannabis extraction. Live resin extract is made with flash-frozen flowers that undergo a solvent-based extraction process to create a consumable final product containing both terpenes and cannabinoids. You’ll see live resin sold in live resin vape pens, live resin edibles, and as a straight live resin extract on dispensary shelves.

On the other hand, live resin terpenes contain zero cannabinoids, and the terpenes don’t come in a resin form. In most cases, these are just blends of terpenes formulated to mirror the aromatic profile of popular cannabis strains. Sometimes, they are cannabis-derived, but not always. 

Cannabis-derived terpenes vs. isolated botanical terpenes 

It’s not commercially viable to isolate individual terpenes from cannabis plants, so isolated terpenes are pulled from non-cannabis plant sources. Once isolated, however, these terpenes are indistinguishable from the same terpenes sourced from cannabis. 

These isolated botanical terpenes can be blended back together to match the terpene profiles of certain cannabis strains. A big advantage of isolated terpenes is that they allow us to create customized formulations that include exactly the type and amount of terpenes requested.  

Cannabis hybrid terpenes

Cannabis hybrid terpenes™ (CHTs) are a Lab Effects special formulation, combining cannabis-derived terpenes and plant-derived terpenes (isolated botanical terpenes.) This is a cost-effective and controlled way to develop stable and standardized strain-specific profiles for consistent effects.

Specific weed terpenes and effects

Now, we can talk about weed terpenes and their potential beneficial effects—especially those that might be similar to creating a “high.” But, because every cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile containing ten or more individual aromatic compounds, we’ll highlight a few individual terpenes and their effect to keep things simple.

Limonene in weed

Limonene is found in cannabis strains like Quantum Kush, Kosher Kush, and Pineapple Express. Among other effects, limonene is thought to provide benefits in mood (7) in some people, which can make you feel like you’re in an elevated state.

Linalool in weed

Linalool is found in Ghost Train Haze and Berry Haze cannabis strains, among others. It’s known for its potential to help with depression and anxiety (8) and may lift your mood significantly.

Myrcene in weed

Found in abundance in strains like Girl Scout Cookies, Grape Ape, and Northern Lights, myrcene is well known for its potential to help users relax and reduce anxiety, (9) which can make you feel relaxed and happy.

Alpha-pinene in weed

Alpha-pinene is found in cannabis strains like Haze Berry and Blue Dream. It has an anxiety-reducing therapeutic effect, (10) which means you can experience a relaxed and euphoric state.

Humulene in weed

Found in the popular cannabis strains Amnesia Haze and Golden Haze, humulene is thought to relieve mental stress, (11) which can definitely make you feel like you’re walking on sunshine.

Beta-caryophyllene in weed

Beta-caryophyllene is found in multiple cannabis strains, including Super Silver Haze and Blue Diesel. Beta-caryophyllene may be active in modulating your body’s stress response, (12) letting your cares fall off your shoulders.

Alpha-bisabolol in weed

Alpha-bisabolol is found in many cannabis strains, including favorites like Pink Kush and Headband. It has many valuable properties and can have a pain-relieving, calming effect (13) on your body and mind.

What Do Terpenes “Do” in Weed? 

Terpenes are chemical compounds found across the plant kingdom and even in the world of fungi. They are what make oranges smell so… orangey and give conifers and hops their rich aromas. Terpenes also affect taste, making products that contain them evoke sweet, citrusy, bitter, or earthy flavors. 

Studies of plants have discovered a wide range of beneficial effects of terpenes for the plants themselves. They can make the plant smell or taste bad to herbivores and insects. They can attract pollinators for the propagation of the species. Terpenes can even help make their own environment better suited to maximize growth.

In weed, terpenes are responsible for the unique aroma and flavor profile of individual strains, as well as contributing to the overall effects of cannabinoids on the human endocannabinoid system.

Are Terpenes Psychoactive? 

Psychoactivity is essentially just having a physiological alteration of your neural pathways. What that means, in essence, is that chemical compounds, such as CBD, for example, may not technically get you “high” but can be psychoactive. 

Many people will insist that technically “non-psychoactive” compounds are, in fact, psychoactive because there’s a measurable physiological change in your body. Your brain can be affected and induce changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and so on. 

This is the argument used to explain why you can relax on CBD. The same reasoning can be expanded to terpenes. This stance posits that just because you don’t have that kind of “fog brain,” eye or sinus pressure, or heavy, introspective thought patterns, it doesn’t mean terpenes are not, by technical definition, psychoactive. 

However, for most laypersons, “getting high” means experiencing the feeling you get when you indulge in a cannabis product high in THC. You may feel differences in your body and mood when you use products high in CBD instead, but it’s not going to induce the same physiological effects that you would get from a CB1 agonist like THC. 

Terpenes and Cannabinoids 

Terpenes have earned a lot of attention recently because of their association with cannabis. Cannabis contains both cannabinoids and terpenes, and there is a lot of scientific speculation that these compounds play off each other to create nuances in the plant’s psychoactivity and medicinal effects.

Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, are known for their interaction with our endocannabinoid system. This body-wide network of receptors and transmitters helps manage many bodily functions. Because of this relationship between cannabinoids and our endocannabinoid system, cannabis has come under intense study, particularly for potential health benefits. 

However, researchers are increasingly turning their gaze to terpenes as a component of these potential benefits under a theory known as the entourage effect. This entourage effect postulates that terpenes and cannabinoids used together have a demonstrably increased effect and/or safer side effect profile than they would be used in isolation. 

THC vs. Terpenes 

Speaking of cannabinoids, let’s talk about THC which is the primary intoxicating compound in cannabis. THC can significantly alter your mental state, creating what we all recognize as a “high.” Depending on the amount of THC found in a specific strain, the high can be more or less intense.

Terpenes don’t interact directly with the same receptors as THC. However, it may be that certain terpenes can boost the effects of THC, while others may reduce the common side effects of paranoia and anxiety. Many theorize that terpenes also add layers into the high, which is why some strains feel more giggly, while others trigger an attack of the munchies.

THC and terpenes are distinct, but they still play into each other to create a more pleasant nuanced experience, instead of just hyper-intense high.

Do Terpenes Get You High?

Since being “high” is an extremely personalized and subjective experience, it’s impossible to say that terpenes can get you high. One person might say they feel high while the person next to them partaking in the same product feels nothing at all. 

Instead, Terpenes Affect Your High

There’s strong evidence that the entourage effect extends to terpenes having a modulatory effect on different cannabinoids. Some terpenes might have the potential to make your high more mellow, taking away anxiety, while others could turn your high into an extremely cerebral experience that makes you feel like you know all the answers to life.

According to the entourage effect, terpenes boost the effects of cannabinoids, so it is certainly possible that adding terpenes to your favorite cannabis products can also make your high “higher.” Again, experiences of psychoactivity are unique from one person to the next, so your results may vary.

What Are the Strains With the Highest  Level of Terpenes?  

Truthfully, it would be impossible to offer an accurate list of the strains with the highest terpene percentages. Not only are there thousands of strains, but their phytochemical profile varies widely from one grower to the next. The cannabis sector is too large and the plant too variable to create such a definite list. 

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about high-terpene strains. So with that caveat out of the way, here are some of the weed strains people commonly report to have high-terpene profiles:

  • Sour Diesel
  • Dutch Treat
  • Bruce Banner
  • Marionberry
  • Blue Dream
  • Fire Alien Strawberry
  • Northern Lights
  • Fire OG
  • Godfather OG
  • Bubba Kush
  • Lemon Diesel
  • Strawberry Cough
  • Sugar Black Rose
  • Game Changer
  • Chem de la Chem

You can experiment with terpenes to achieve the desired potential for specific therapeutic effects and potentially modulate highs to get just the right kind of experience. 

Disclaimer: 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 should strictly be used by experienced and trained manufacturers, and we advise those unfamiliar with these compounds to exercise caution.

Lab Effects: The #1 Source of Cannabis-Derived and Isolated Botanical Terpenes

When it comes to getting high, terpenes may not give you the full psychoactive effect associated with THC, but they can certainly contribute to your experience.

Order cannabis terpenes wholesale today from a reputable company in the U.S. cannabis industry. Lab Effects is cGMP-certified, ISO 9001-certified, HACCP-certified, FDA-registered, and ANAB-accredited.


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