Medical Cannabis – What Exactly Is A Terpene?

Cannabis shows potential in helping some patients with Alzheimer’s, cancer, glaucoma, severe and chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and more. It’s crucial to understand that cannabis isn’t a magical cure-all drug. Instead, there are many types of cannabis and many products that may assist in managing specific symptoms.

Cannabis is a vast and complicated subject that medical researchers are still learning more about all the time. But looking deeper at what terpenes are will help the casual reader grasp the basic concept of what separates one cannabis cultivar from another.

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Terpenes, Not Only In Cannabis

Terpenes are an aromatic compound found in many types of plants and herbs, from rosemary and lavender to cannabis. Terpenes are what create the distinct smell that lets you recognize lilac from lily of the valley.

Manufacturers can isolate terpenes to create new scents and flavor profiles for perfume, body products, and even food. In nature, the presence of terpenes can repel predators, thus protecting the plant.

Terpenes have a unique effect on our body’s endocannabinoid system, which can be similar to the impact of cannabinoids. However, the body absorbs and uses these compounds in different ways.

The unique signature of the terpene combination found in a medical cannabis cultivar largely determines the aroma and effect it will have on the patient. Terpene combinations and ratios are virtually endless, though a few dominant profiles include limonene, musky-thyme, pine, and lavender-floral.

Let’s look at a few examples of terpenes.


Nature’s most common terpene, woodsy alpha-pinene, is more abundant in cannabis than its isomer, beta-pinene. There’s some evidence that alpha-pinene helps with memory.


Limonene is found throughout the plant kingdom, limonene is common in cannabis but also in citrus fruits, juniper, dill, and others. Anecdotal evidence suggests limonene-rich cannabis improves one’s mood.


Linalool is commonly found in cannabis but is also found in basil and bergamot. It’s found abundantly in lavender and is the main component of Earl Grey tea. Anecdotally, cannabis with linalool may help with some symptoms of anxiety and also help with depression, anxiety, sleep, and pain relief.

Terpenes Affect Mood

Terpenes do a lot more than change the plant’s smell. While it’s common to categorize cannabis based on THC content or whether it’s largely an Indica or Sativa, terpenes can also be the basis for determining the plant’s effect.

It’s hard to reduce the effects of terpene types and combinations into neat categories because there are nearly endless permutations. Still, some general category types include euphoric, creative, relaxed, and energetic. It’s possible to get the cannabis that treats your symptoms while also controlling for how it makes you feel, so you don’t need to fear that what provides relief can cause discomfort or dissatisfaction elsewhere.

Like many other medications, cannabis can lead to some undesired side effects, and these can almost always be treated by changing the product, altering the dosage, or taking a pause in treatment. However, terpenes are also linked to specific mental health outcomes and treatments for things like nausea, insomnia, stress, depression, and more.

Medical Professionals Guiding The Journey

Understanding terpenes in their full depth is beyond the scope of the average medical cannabis patient, even if grasping the basic concept helps someone understand their reaction to the plant and why it smells the way it does. Instead of trying to navigate this complex topic on your own, trusted medical professionals match your symptoms to the best-suited cannabis product and guide you from start to finish through your journey.

Leaders like Medical Cannabis by Shoppers offer personalized recommendations and services, and they’ll give you expert advice online about medical symptoms, correct dosage, and current prescriptions. Just register with the Licensed Producer, provide a completed medical document signed by a medical professional, and get verified to access a wide range of brands, products, and cultivars on their website.

Thankfully, medical cannabis can be tax-deductible in Canada, and you may submit it under a health spending account. There are also licensed companies that offer discounts for seniors, veterans, and others who may be eligible.

If you have any questions, speak to a medical professional today. The Cannabis Act regulations do not permit employees to offer medical advice or guidance on symptom management, and Canadians need the support and guidance of healthcare providers.

The world of medical cannabis has already provided meaningful relief for countless people, and researchers are still uncovering more about this endlessly fascinating plant every day. Talk to your doctor or speak with a cannabis-trained pharmacist to get clinical help for a vast range of symptoms and find medical cannabis with the perfect combination of terpenes for you.

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