Terpenes are aromatic molecules that give cannabis and other plants their distinct aromas. In our previous post, we got acquainted with dominant cannabis terpenes.
This time around, we’re focusing on secondary cannabis terpenes, which are typically present in much smaller concentrations. While they might not be as important as their dominant cousins, secondary terpenes still contribute to the flavors and effects of cannabis.
Strains Rich In Secondary Terpenes
Although all cannabis strains contain them, secondary terpenes rarely break into the top three terpenes by concentration. For example, linalool is the third most abundant terpene in only a handful of strains, including Do-Si-Dos, Scooby Snacks, and Zkittlez, making these strains rather unique.
Here’s a closer look at the ten most notable secondary cannabis terpenes: carene, camphene, caryophyllene oxide, fenchol, humulene, linalool, phellandrene, beta-pinene, terpinene, and terpineol.
Also known as delta-3 carene, this terpene has a sweet smell reminiscent of turpentine. Aside from cannabis, it’s also found in pine trees, rosemary, and other plants.
Studies have shown that carene has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties 1 and may support bone health.2 It’s also been shown to promote sleep by interacting with GABA receptors in the brain.3
Camphene is another terpene common in conifer and camphor trees, as well as valerian, nutmeg, and other plants.
It has a cooling, piney, camphor-like odor with hints of citrus. Early research suggests that it may be able to lower cholesterol and triglycerides4 and help with inflammation and pain.5
Caryophyllene oxide is a different form of beta-caryophyllene, one of the dominant terpenes in cannabis. It’s found in the same kinds of plants, such as basil, cloves, and pepper, and has a woody scent.
Caryophyllene oxide has similar effects to regular caryophyllene, including pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral properties.6
Also known as fenchyl alcohol, fenchol is common in basil and aster flowers. It has camphor and lemon-like flavor and may have pain-relieving qualities.7
One of the most recognized secondary terpenes in cannabis, linalool has a floral odor and is also found in lavender and coriander.
It’s been shown to have many beneficial properties, including sedative, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, and pain-relieving effects.9, 10
Phellandrene is an under-researched terpene that’s found in eucalyptus plants and has a complex flavor with hints of mint, citrus, pepper, spice, and wood. It may have antidepressant and antihyperalgesic (reduced sensitivity to pain) effects.11
Secondary terpenes contribute to the flavor and effects of cannabis, with each strain having a unique terpene profile.
While they might not play as big of a role as their dominant cousins, secondary terpenes are still important. For example, strains rich in limonene can be a good option for calming, uplifting effects.
You can search products by their terpene profile and look for specific secondary terpenes in our Producer Connect database.
1 Huang, Xia-Ling, et al. “Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of active ingredients in the essential oils from Gynura procumbens, a traditional medicine and a new and popular food material.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 239 (2019): 111916.
2 Jeong, Jong‐Geun, et al. “Low concentration of 3‐carene stimulates the differentiation of mouse osteoblastic MC3T3‐E1 subclone 4 cells.” Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives 22.1 (2008): 18-22.
4 Vallianou, Ioanna, et al. “Camphene, a plant-derived monoterpene, reduces plasma cholesterol and triglycerides in hyperlipidemic rats independently of HMG-CoA reductase activity.” PloS one 6.11 (2011): e20516.
8 Rogerio, Alexandre P., et al. “Preventive and therapeutic anti‐inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene α‐humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation.” British journal of pharmacology 158.4 (2009): 1074-1087. of Medical and Biological Research 49.7 (2016).
11 Piccinelli, Ana Claudia, et al. “Antihyperalgesic and antidepressive actions of (R)-(+)-limonene, α-phellandrene, and essential oil from Schinus terebinthifolius fruits in a neuropathic pain model.” Nutritional neuroscience 18.5 (2015): 217-224.
15 Ya-Nan, Wang, et al. “Anticancer effects of Chenopodium ambrosiodes L. essential oil on human breast cancer MCF-7 cells in vitro.” Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 14.10 (2015): 1813-1820.
16 Vieira, Graziela, et al. “Antidepressant-like effect of terpineol in an inflammatory model of depression: Involvement of the cannabinoid system and D2 dopamine receptor.” Biomolecules 10.5 (2020): 792.
17 Nogueira, M. N. M., et al. “Terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol (tea tree oil components) inhibit the production of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-10 on human macrophages.” Inflammation research 63.9 (2014): 769-778.