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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dan Jin

Terpenes in Cannabis

Terpenes are the primary constituents of essential oils and are responsible for the characteristic smell of cannabis. Each cannabis strain has its own unique combination of terpenes which give it distinct aroma and flavour, contributing to different consumer’s experiences.

Terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis but are widely found in highly fragrant flowers, fruits, herbs, and spices. Up to now, more than 120 terpenes have been identified in cannabis [1–7]. Terpenes themselves possess anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antioxidant, neuroprotective, sedative, and anti-bacterial properties [8–10]. In cannabis, cannabinoids and terpenes are believed to act together to create the “entourage effect” or “synergistic effect”, which enhance the desired therapeutic effects and minimize undesired side effects [11–13]. Studies have shown that cannabis extracts with full spectrum of metabolites have better medicinal effects than pure CBD or THC alone [12, 14]. But it is not conclusive whether terpenes can influence the activity of cannabinoids by acting on cannabinoid receptors, like β-caryophyllene [15], or indirect modulation via other mechanisms. One recent study published in Scientific Reports showed that several terpenes selectively enhanced cannabinoid activity in mice, which provided conceptual support for the entourage effect hypothesis [16].

Together with our partners, PBG BioPharma is interested in the nutritional and health benefits of terpenes in cannabis plants and are working to develop and formulate unique cannabis-based terpene ingredients and products. Using our proprietary GenBioChem® Triple Fingerprinting Technology at PBG Biopharma, we are able to ensure product traceability, purity, potency and consistency through the entire product cycles from raw material, manufacturing, to finished products.


  1. ElSohly MA, Gul W (2014) Constituents of Cannabis Sativa. In: Handbook of Cannabis. Oxford University Press, pp 3–22

  2. ElSohly MA, Slade D (2005) Chemical constituents of marijuana: the complex mixture of natural cannabinoids. Life sciences 78:539–548

  3. Jin D, Dai K, Xie Z, Chen J (2020) Secondary Metabolites Profiled in Cannabis Inflorescences, Leaves, Stem Barks, and Roots for Medicinal Purposes. Scientific Reports 10:3309

  4. Pollastro F, Minassi A, Fresu LG (2018) Cannabis Phenolics and their Bioactivities. Current medicinal chemistry 25:1160–1185

  5. Ross SA, ElSohly MA, Sultana GN, Mehmedic Z, Hossain CF, Chandra S (2005) Flavonoid glycosides and cannabinoids from the pollen of Cannabis sativa L. Phytochemical Analysis: An International Journal of Plant Chemical and Biochemical Techniques 16:45–48

  6. Russo EB, Marcu J (2017) Cannabis Pharmacology: The Usual Suspects and a Few Promising Leads. In: Cannabinoid Pharmacology. Elsevier, pp 67–134

  7. Turner CE, Elsohly MA, Boeren EG (1980) Constituents of Cannabis sativa L. XVII. A review of the natural constituents. Journal of Natural Products 43:169–234

  8. Xiao R-Y, Wu L-J, Hong X-X, Tao L, Luo P, Shen X-C (2018) Screening of analgesic and anti-inflammatory active component in Fructus Alpiniae zerumbet based on spectrum–effect relationship and GC–MS. Biomedical Chromatography 32:e4112

  9. Rufino AT, Ribeiro M, Judas F, Salgueiro L, Lopes MC, Cavaleiro C, Mendes AF (2014) Anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective activity of (+)-α-pinene: structural and enantiomeric selectivity. Journal of natural products 77:264–269

  10. Kim D-S, Lee H-J, Jeon Y-D, Han Y-H, Kee J-Y, Kim H-J, Shin H-J, Kang J, Lee BS, Kim S-H (2015) Alpha-pinene exhibits anti-inflammatory activity through the suppression of MAPKs and the NF-κB pathway in mouse peritoneal macrophages. The American journal of Chinese medicine 43:731–742

  11. Russo EB (2011) Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology 163:1344–1364

  12. Blasco-Benito S, Seijo-Vila M, Caro-Villalobos M, et al (2018) Appraising the “entourage effect”: Antitumor action of a pure cannabinoid versus a botanical drug preparation in preclinical models of breast cancer. Biochem Pharmacol 157:285–293

  13. McPartland JM, Russo EB (2001) Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts? Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 1:103–132

  14. Baram L, Peled E, Berman P, Yellin B, Besser E, Benami M, Louria-Hayon I, Lewitus GM, Meiri D (2019) The heterogeneity and complexity of Cannabis extracts as antitumor agents. Oncotarget 10:4091–4106

  15. Gertsch J, Leonti M, Raduner S, Racz I, Chen J-Z, Xie X-Q, Altmann K-H, Karsak M, Zimmer A (2008) Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid. PNAS 105:9099–9104

  16. LaVigne JE, Hecksel R, Keresztes A, Streicher JM (2021) Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity. Scientific Reports 11:1–15

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