Cannabinoids and Terpenes – What are the Differences

Cannabinoids have long been the subject of interest for scientists studying cannabis. However, it is becoming more evident that another group of active compounds also plays a crucial role in the effects of Cannabis sativa. Meet the terpenes.

Best known for their role in flavour and aroma, terpenes are what complete the cannabis experience. They’re also abundant in every other plant species, existing in varying concentrations and combinations.

Thanks to modern science, we’re beginning to realize that these active chemical compounds also possess medicinal properties previously unheard of. What is interesting about these aromatic molecules is how they can be extracted from Cannabis sativa plants for botanical drug preparation.

This blog post will explore the difference between cannabinoids and terpenes and what you need to know about them to get the most out of your cannabis!’

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids refer to a particular group of naturally-occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike other plant compounds, they react with a specialized group of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system.

For centuries, cannabinoids have been prized for their medicinal value and intoxicating effects. There are currently 114 known cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants, and they all have different effects once they bind to other receptors in the human body.

Many of these receptors can be found throughout the central nervous system and brain. THC, the most prominent cannabinoid, binds with the CB1-receptors. This creates a euphoric feeling after smoking marijuana because it’s found throughout the central nervous system and brain.

CBD is another cannabinoid, which can have positive effects on your body when ingested. CBD binds with the CB-receptors instead of THC’s, resulting in a more mellow high while still treating pain and inflammation issues.

Other cannabinoids include CBD, CBC, cannabinol (CBN), cannabicyclol (CBL), and cannabichromene (CBC).’

The endocannabinoid system

The human endocannabinoid system is a network of chemical signals and receptors scattered throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. Two kinds of receptors play a significant role in this network: the CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

The CB1 receptor reacts with the cannabinoids to produce the euphoric feeling that is felt after smoking marijuana. Meanwhile, the CB2 receptor is found mainly in the peripheral nervous system and plays a significant role in inflammatory responses.  

CB receptors are found throughout most parts of our bodies, including:

  • Our brain and the central nervous system
  • Our lungs, life, and kidneys.
  • On immune cells throughout the body to help fight inflammation issues or infections.
  • Other major organs, including our eyes and ears

THC versus CBD

Though they’re both different, CBD and THC are markedly different from one another. CBD is a more calming feeling, while THC has intoxicating effects.

Both cannabinoids contribute significantly to the medical uses of cannabis. They provide numerous benefits, including the following: neuroprotective properties; an analgesic effect when taken orally or applied topically; muscle spasticity reduction; anxiety relief (THC); appetite stimulation (THC); and epileptic seizure prevention, among other things.

THC is largely responsible for the weed “high.”

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more popularly known as THC, is the primary cannabinoid in cannabis plants and its psychoactive properties. THC binds with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system to produce the infamous “high” that cannabis is known for.

THC has been shown to treat nausea, vomiting, pain, and mental illnesses. It’s commonly used as an appetite stimulant to prevent rapid weight loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy or who have AIDS. It’s also a great sleep aid for those who have sleeping issues.

CBD has many therapeutic benefits

CBD, or cannabidiol, doesn’t cause you to get high, and it can be beneficial when ingested because of its anti-inflammatory benefits and other medicinal applications.

It works by binding itself to CB receptor sites all over our bodies without activating them so they don’t produce an intoxicating effect as THC would do. Thanks to this property, the substance can help treat several medical conditions without the risk of getting unnecessarily “high.”

CBD treats anxiety, insomnia, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, alcohol addiction, bipolar disorder, degenerative neurological disorders, depression. Unlike its counterpart, CBD is not psychoactive and does PR_CONNECT_RESET_ERROR not get you stoned when consumed. 

Other common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant

Cannabichromene (CBC) is a common cannabinoid found in cannabis plants with many therapeutic benefits. Studies have shown that it has significant anti-inflammatory properties and also helps to reduce muscle spasms. It’s been seen as being even more effective than THC because it has little to no intoxicating effects.

Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis. CBG has been shown to reduce inflammation and can also stimulate appetite.

Cannabinol (CBN) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in aged cannabis plants. CBN has been shown to possess neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) is a psychoactive cannabinoid thought to be more potent than THC. Like Δ9-THC, Δ8-THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain. It might have anticoagulant properties because of its ability to decrease platelet aggregation.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is dubbed as the “diet weed” for its appetite-suppressing qualities. This non-psychoactive cannabinoid has been shown to have a multitude of therapeutic effects. As an appetite suppressant, it sees usage in managing diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and tumours, among other things.

What do cannabinoids do?

Cannabinoids help the human body produce endocannabinoids, which bind to receptors in our brain and throughout our bodies. They also help regulate how cells communicate within the system.

Cannabinoids are also used to treat many medical conditions. The usefulness of cannabinoids was, for the longest time, limited to traditional medicine. Recent studies are beginning to uncover the vast medicinal and therapeutic properties of these chemicals in curing seizures, pain, anxiety, etc. 

Alleviates chronic pain, inflammation, and more

Research has shown that small doses of CBD essential oil taken regularly over time can alleviate symptoms of pain-causing conditions. To varying degrees of success, patients suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, and endometriosis have been treated with hemp oil.

There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that clinical cannabis can be used to treat prevalent auto-immune disorders such as ALS, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and more. While the exact mechanism is still being studied, researchers believe it affects the body’s endocannabinoid system more intensely than previously imagined.

Used to treat several mental conditions

Medical cannabis users may be treating their depression and anxiety with one of the best treatments available. Current research shows that medical cannabis may help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, but only if it has a sufficient level of THC.

Additionally, CBD can help regulate serotonin levels — the neurotransmitter whose shortage is often what fuels feelings of depression — and its use can successfully prevent or lessen symptoms in people diagnosed with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Of course, thyroid dysfunction would also need to be ruled out first before cannabis was given to treat any mood-related malady.

Improves muscle control

One of the symptoms that people who suffer from MS (multiple sclerosis) and other neurological disorders – such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease – experience is muscle spasticity. This condition causes uncontrollable muscle contractions. It can be so severe as to cause one to shake uncontrollably, interfere with movement, and reduce the ability to sleep.

Research has shown that THC reduces patients’ symptoms of spasticity. CBD also offers relief to those afflicted with this condition by reducing the severity and frequency of seizures and convulsions.

Improves quality of sleep

Marijuana has been discovered to aid with sleep cycles. Cannabinoids have been found in clinical studies to help decrease REM sleep latency, improve sleep quality, and extend sleeping time. Physicians increasingly prescribe cannabis extracts to patients suffering from sleeplessness, restless leg syndrome (RLS), and even obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Boosts appetite

Researchers in California found that cannabinoids can stimulate the appetite, particularly when they are already low (waning). It has similar effects on appetite as CB1 receptor antagonist drugs like SR1417.

Thanks to this appetite-boosting property, some clinics have begun administering cannabis essential oils to patients suffering from AIDS. This helps prevent dramatic weight loss that could otherwise exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes, also known as terpenoids or isoprenoids, are natural hydrocarbons largely responsible for the aroma and flavour of various plants. These aroma compounds are the most abundant natural plant products, given that they possess incredible diversity.

Cannabis flavours come from terpenoid compounds produced by trichome glands within the flowering structures of female cannabis plants. Different strains produce their combinations of terpenes and terpenoids. The variety in terpene profile translates into the many unique smells and flavours we know (and love) today.

For example, the limonene terpene can be found in cannabis, and it adds a citrus note. Some high-functioning strains of cannabis have been bred to maximize the number of flavones or other compounds such as myrcene which has a musky scent.

Terpenes also elicit numerous bodily effects that have wide therapeutic functions and antioxidant properties. They can aid in reducing stress levels, increasing focus/energy during the day, and some even have mildly psychoactive effects similar to cannabinoids. When burned at high temperatures, these aromatic molecules will release oxygen radicals that can help ward off things like carcinogens.

It’s recommended people look into the terpene profile of specific strains. This will help them form reasonable expectations, which is always better than smoking at random without knowing at all.

How do terpenes affect the body?

Terpenes influence the body and mind and can also lead to a more pleasurable experience. The terpene molecules bind to cannabinoid receptors or other signalling systems like pain pathways in the central nervous system.

They also bind to olfactory receptors of the nose, allowing for the detection of cannabis even before it is ingested. When cannabis is consumed, terpenes are lost, leading to a change in the taste and experience of cannabis.

How do terpenes affect the mind?

Terpenes can also help reduce the sometimes overwhelming sensations associated with cannabinoids in different ways. For example, some terpenes like alpha-pinene and beta-myrcene can bind to CB-1 receptors and dampen the “high.” In contrast, some other terpenes like limonene and linalool that bind to CB-2 receptors can reduce anxiety and stress.

Terpenes play an important role in the mental effects of cannabis. For example, myrcene has been associated with reducing anxiety and stress levels and helping you sleep better at night. In addition to its sedative effect, which is similar to CBD, it binds to GABA receptors, thereby increasing their sensitivity resulting in more relaxation and reducing pain.

Another common terpene is limonene which has been known to lift a person’s mood and improve focus. On the other hand, Pinene is responsible for increased memory recall and alertness, which creates a positive mindset, making it great for studying or being productive at work.

Cannabis terpenes also play another role in influencing your mental health through their effect on neurotransmitters in the brain. Myrcene can attach to serotonin receptors and affect sensations of happiness. Pinene attaches to dopamine receptors responsible for feelings of pleasure and euphoria.

Why are terpenes important to cannabis plants?

Terpenes released by the resin glands of the cannabis plant act as a natural defence against predators, such as insects and herbivores. They also play a role in protecting the plant from harmful UV rays. Aside from their protective functions, these volatile compounds also aid in the plant’s ability to regenerate when affected by environmental pollutants.

Most common terpenes found in cannabis plants

Terpenes are the primary aroma compounds produced in the cannabis plant. Knowing how they function is the first step in harnessing their potential therapeutic value.

Many terpenes found in the cannabis plant can also be found in other fragrant plants (e.g., lavender, black pepper, citrus). However, only a handful of these important compounds exist in high concentrations enough to provide medicinal benefits.

These cannabis compounds can be are classified in two ways:

  • Primary terpenes: Released with the ripening of the cannabis plant, primary terpenes play a major role in taste, aroma, and overall cannabis experience. They are the most abundant terpenes found in the plant.
  • Secondary terpenes: Developed due to contact with ageing and environmental influences, secondary terpenes give nuance and depth to each cannabis strain. Though they don’t exist in high concentration, they still affect the performance of your cannabis strain.

Common primary terpenes found in Cannabis sativa

Thanks to their unique aromas and medicinal benefits, these primary terpenes form the base of many essential oils.

Myrcene: Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis plants, and with its earthy, peppery, musky flavour, it has become a popular additive to hops for brewing beer. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and is used to treat stomach ulcers.

Limonene: Limonene is an organic compound that is one of the major constituents of citrus fruit. It’s responsible for the citrusy smell that so often defines this fruit category. Limonene is an amazing disinfectant and has long been used in cleaning and deodorizing. This abundant terpene can aid in sleep, boost your mood, and help control pain.

Terpinolene: Terpinolene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, and it contributes to flavour and odour. It’s a terpene found in a wide variety of plants, so it’s an odorant that can come from many sources. It smells like fresh cucumbers or pine needles.

Linalool is responsible for the distinct fragrance of the lavender plant. It’s known for its calming effects when used as aromatherapy and is used extensively in cosmetics and perfumes.

Alpha Pinene is a group of terpenes commonly found in pine needles and other “spicy” herbs. It is responsible for the distinct aroma of pine trees. Studies show that α-pinene can help reduce stress and depression while boosting mood and improving mental clarity. 

Beta Pinene shares the same chemical structure with α-pinene, only differing in a double-bond placement. They both have anti-inflammatory properties and contain antibacterial, antibiotic, antiseptic, antioxidant, expectorant, or mucolytic agents. β-pinene is commonly used as a flavour additive, essential oil, and food preservative.

Common secondary terpenes found in Cannabis sativa

Secondary cannabis terpenes introduce a variety of flavours to cannabis strains. With so many chemical compounds at play, there’s never a shortage of exciting options for every kind of pothead.

Humulene is a terpene with impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s also been shown to suppress the growth of cancer cells in clinical studies. First discovered in hops, humulene can be found in popular strains such as the OG Kush and Girl Scout Cookies.

Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene and is found in many traditional medicines. The terpene shows promising potential in cancer treatment as it can disrupt the normal cancer cell cycle. Caryophyllene is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Nerolidol, also known as peruviol and penetrol, can be extracted from other natural sources such as jasmine and lemongrass. This woody aromatic compound has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-fungal properties. Nerolidol is commonly used in cosmetics, but it can also be found in food additives.

Terpineol is an alcohol-like terpene that is found in several plant species, including cardamom and pine. It’s used in the manufacturing of scents and perfumes and is a food additive for both flavour and preservation. Terpineol can also lead to euphoria, increased mental focus, and lessened anxiety when consumed at low doses.

Popular cannabis strains and their terpene profiles

At least 200 of these compounds are found in the Cannabis sativa plant, though many terpenes exist in the natural world. These compounds define the taste and aroma of a certain cannabis strain.

It helps to have a basic understanding of terpene profiles so that you can reasonably decide what kind of experience (and therapeutic properties) you’ll be getting from your flowers, cannabis extracts, or cannabis essential oils.

Here are some popular cannabis strains and their unique terpene profiles:

  • OG Kush: Diesel-like and skunky, the OG Kush elicits a distinct THC high that’s only amplified by its primary terpene myrcene. Aroma-wise, you’ll get notes of lemon and pine-fuel thanks to small amounts of limonene and caryophyllene.
  • Hindu Kush: Strong earthy aroma and citrus undertones define this limonene-rich classic. Caryophyllene and Pinene provide sandalwood-like depth and a deep sense of calm when smoked.
  • Sour Diesel: An energizing mix of myrcene and limonene gives this strain its distinct mood-elevating experience. Earthy flavours, citrus rinds, and a diesel accent work in an orchestra with the Sour Diesel.
  • Purple Haze: Myrcene, caryophyllene, and humulene work in concert to give Purple Haze its notably berry-like piquancy. The strain’s cannabis terpenes encourage cognitive and creative stimulation.
  • Kush Mints: This strain is a hybrid with an aroma and taste of lavender and pine. The terpene profile for this strain is limonene, linalool, caryophyllene, geraniol, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene.
  • Pink Kush: Pink Kush is known for its exceptionally sweet and zesty flavour, thanks to caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene. It delivers a euphoric, calming high that leaves you feeling happy, relaxed, and even somewhat anesthetized.

The synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes

Produced in the resin glands of the cannabis plant, cannabinoids and terpenes contribute to the unique experience of smoking or ingesting weed in various forms. Cannabinoids cause different effects on your body, such as getting you high. Cannabis terpenes can alter or amplify the effects you feel from the cannabinoids.

Research has shown that THC and CBD have a synergistic effect on each other when taken together. This synergy is referred to as the “entourage effect” in the scientific community.

What is the entourage effect?

The entourage effect is a phenomenon that refers to the synergistic interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes in the endocannabinoid system. When both are present, they amplify each other.

Active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant function like an orchestra, with each compound playing a role in producing the medicinal properties of cannabis. Cannabis terpenes activate multiple signalling pathways involving the endocannabinoid system, thus strengthening the effects of THC and CBD. It’s just as the saying goes: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The entourage effect is easily observed when trying out different strains. For example, a strain rich in myrcene induces relaxation better than other strains do. Those that are rich in limonene, on the other hand, perform better in arousing the user.

Scientific research on the entourage effect is still ongoing. However, what is clear now is that cannabinoids and terpenes work closely together. And this presents exciting opportunities for the creation of cannabis products targeting specific conditions.

Are the chemical compounds found in weed legal?

As of 2021, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes is limited to 19 states. Thirty-six states in the country allow cannabis use for medicinal purposes.

Currently, cannabis remains a Schedule I substance, which means it’s considered highly addictive and carries many risks of abuse. The INCB has maintained that all forms of cannabis (smoked or eaten) fall into this category until evidence arises that they might not (for instance, if they were legal).

That being said, there remains a gray area in cannabis laws across the country. Cannabis use is widely popular. 91% of Americans support its use as medicine.

Cannabinoids and terpenes, though illegal in many states, are being prescribed by physicians across the nation for their outstanding therapeutic properties and medicinal benefits. Cannabis extracts and essential oil remain popular medicine choices for the young and old alike because they allow those with medical conditions to get their dose without smoking.

Are terpenes legal?

In the natural world, terpenes can be found in the essential oils of almost all plants (including cannabis). It would certainly be impossible for the government to make these volatile compounds illegal.

Keep in mind, though, laws vary by state, so this is something you should get more information on before proceeding with your purchase. Generally speaking, the types of synthetic terpene flavours found in cannabis are not legal for use in any type of product unless expressly included in specific federal regulations by an agency such as the FDA. Similarly, there is usually a list of approved food additives available at various government websites to find this type of information.

Get your dose of cannabinoids.

Thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC are now lawful. You can now get your daily dose of cannabis without compromising. And here at Concentr8, we’ve got just what you’re looking for.

We take pride in our cannabis solutions. All Concentr8 products are locally manufactured, lab-tested, and made following the highest level of ethics possible. 

We’re not one to cut corners. Each cannabinoid formulation is meticulously crafted to perfection, nothing less. 100% hemp-derived. All-natural ingredients.

Let’s get you started then. We offer potent Cannabinoid Isolates containing CBN, CBC, CBG, CBD in their purest forms. Or why not try out our custom formulated Cannabinoid Blends that expertly combine premium Delta 8 and minor cannabinoids.


Cannabinoids and terpenes are both found in cannabis plants. These compounds interact with one another to produce the effects of marijuana, such as pain relief or a general sense of wellbeing.

Terpenes can also be sourced from other plants and create their own unique psychoactive experience that may not include the full range of cannabinoids due to different chemical compositions. The synergy between these two compounds is what makes cannabis so versatile for medical use.

If you’re looking to learn more about either cannabinoid or terpene products, contact us at Concentr8 today! We have everything you need right here on our website, like premium Delta 8 edibles, pure cannabinoid concentrates, tinctures, smokeables, batteries, and more!

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