16 Terpenes + Cannabis Lotion Formula

Learn about what cannabis terpenes and essential oils terpenes are for. Includes FREE formulation to make your own terpene-rich lotion at home!

Terpenes are a large group of organic compounds which are simple hydrocarbons. These compounds are produced by numerous plants. You will have already smelled or tasted numerous terpenes already today just from the food you eat and smell.

Terpenes often have a strong smell that protects plants by discouraging animals from eating them. Some plants contain terpenes that are designed to attract animals to eat them to spread the plant’s seeds. This strong combination of terpenes is what gives the more common name of weed to the cannabis plant. The terpenes appear in Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and the Hydrid strains.

Benefits of Terpenes

Terpenes are used in aromatherapy and cannabis for a variety of purposes. In cannabis, cannabinoids and terpenes play a big role in creating different highs and have tested medical benefits.  Terpenes play an important part of a plant’s flavour and fragrance.

Terpenes are the main component of essential oils used in aromatherapy. They also contribute to the fragrance and therapeutic effects of medical cannabis. However, the most significant use for essential oils is for their therapeutic use.

Terpenes play a vital role in both cannabis and aromatherapy. They have numerous therapeutic benefits and can be combined to enhance their effects.

Rarely is a cannabis strain or an essential oil equally balanced with a range of terpenes. Usually, one or two terpenes are dominant, but even small amounts of a minor terpene can have a strong effect. It’s helpful to remember the specific terpenes you want so you can find them easily later.

It’s helpful to know which terpenes are responsible for your bad experiences with weed, so you can avoid them in the future. Understanding the effects of THC and CBD is crucial.

What is the Entourage Effect, and Why Does it Matter?

The terpenes found in cannabis are responsible for the distinctly different aromas of different strains; some can be fruity, skunky, spicy, or piney. They also have a therapeutic function known as the “entourage effect”.

When you take a specific amount of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), it can help with pain, anxiety, or stress. However, it can also cause unwanted side effects. The combination of terpenes in the weed can smooth that along and reduce those THC effects. You could also add extra terpenes from essential oils, so that a smaller weed THC dose is needed in the first place.

The list of terpenes in cannabis and essential oils is quite large, but there are many interesting crossovers. Using a cream enriched with essential oil (EO) rich in a specific terpene can enhance the terpene content of weed, regardless of whether you consume it as a spliff, vape, or edible. Or, you may want to use a different terpene to moderate the weed terpenes.

16 Common Terpenes and Their Effects

Research around terpenes is continuous as the pharmaceutical industry realises the huge profit margins in terpenes.

MYRCENE has a very strong herbal aroma with peppery, spicy nuances. It offers relaxation and sedation effects. When it interacts with other cannabinoids like THC or CBD, it enhances the entourage effect, leading to a synergistic combination that can increase the absorption of cannabinoid receptors and the affinity of THC with human CB1 receptors, resulting in psychotropic effects.

It’s found in Thyme, Lemongrass and Juniper Berry EO’s, and in cannabis varieties such as ACDC, Blue Dream, and Granddaddy Purple.

Myrcene terpene for relaxation and sedation
Myrcene terpene for relaxation and sedation

LIMONENE has a very strong citrus aroma that puts a smile on your face as it has 70% bioavailability (meaning that it is easy to inhale and get the instant benefits). It is a great terpene for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing cortisol levels, it reduces stress and anxiety whilst boosting your immune system. It also interacts with and enhances other cannabinoids and terpenes while reducing any potential anxiety from the THC.

It’s found in Lemon, Orange and Grapefuit EO’s as well as cannabis varieties like Banana OG, Purple Hindu Kush, and Do-Si-Dos.

CARYOPHYLLENE has a very warm, spicy and woody aroma and is a powerful anti-inflammatory, especial for reducing chronic inflammation. This enables a significant topical pain relief for many people without being addictive. It counteracts some of the psychoactivity of THC, and when combined with CBD or Humulene, it’s very anti-inflammatory for arthritis and fibromyalgia. It binds with the CB2 receptors in your body, reducing pain, anxiety, and inflammation.

It’s found in Clove, Black Pepper and Ylang Ylang EO’s as well as cannabis varieties such as Super Silver Haze, Chemdawg, and Gorilla Glue.

LINALOOL is what makes lavender smell so good with hints of floral, citrus and spice. It’s a quite commonly found terpene that’s used for its anti-inflammatory effects which is important to help depression and Alzheimers disease where it is neuroprotective by reducing neuronal cell death. It specifically targets the brain chemicals responsible for pain transmission, giving effective pain relief.

It’s found in Lavender, Neroli, and Rosalina EO’s and in cannabis varieties like White Widow, Amnesia Haxe, and Lavender Kush.

ALPHA-PINENE and BETA-PINENE are the most abundant terpenes in nature and have an instantly recognisable crisp, clean pine tree aroma that have both been extensively researched for their effects on asthma and protecting the brain. They are both effective against oxidative stress and can help slow down memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. It is commonly found in conifer trees, and it instils that deep breathing effect you get from a walk in the forest.

It’s found in Pine, Juniper, and Rosemary EO’s, and in Big Smooth, Cannatonic, and Cotton Candy Kush cannabis varieties.

Pinene terpene for deep breathing
Pinene terpene for deep breathing

ALPHA-BISABOLOL has a sweet, floral scent and is regarded to be one of the most used herbal constituents in the world, helping to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation as well as being powerfully antimicrobial. In cosmetic products it imparts a healthy sheen to the skin.

It is found in German Chamomile, Candeia Tree, and Blue Chamomile EO’s, and in ACDC, Harlequin, and Pink Kush cannabis varieties.

HUMULENE has a very earthy, woody and spicy aroma. When combined with Caryophyllene, research has shown that it can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Another study showed it decreased allergic inflammation in the airways. It’s also antibacterial and a great anti-inflammatory that can be comparable to some common steroids. On a lighter note, it has appetite suppressant qualities, so there is less likelihood of me getting the midnight munchies!

It is found in Spearmint, Cloves, and Black Pepper EO’s, and in White Widow, Gelato, and Girl Scout Cookies cannabis varieties.

EUCALYPTOL is also known as 1,8-Cineole and has a fresh, strong aroma of eucalyptus with a cooling, minty, camphoraceous note. It is wonderful at helping your lungs, giving a non-steroidal approach to COPD and asthma. It helps to reduce pain levels generally, and regular use has shown that it improves cognitive function in older people.

It is found in Eucalyptus Globulus, Eucalyptus Nicholii, and Spanish Sage EO’s, and in Girl Scout Cookies, Super Silver Haze, and Dutch Treat cannabis varieties.

TERPINOLENE has a distinctive woody aroma with hints of pine cones, rosemary and a little spice. It’s a great antifungal agent as well as being antibacterial against pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. Research shows it to be a great natural pain reliever as well as an anti-inflammatory. Another benefit is the sedative effect which is very useful for helping reduce anxiety and insomnia.

It is found in Basil, Lavender, and Tagetes EO’s, and in Ghost Train Haze, Lemon Jack, and Dutch Treat cannabis varieties.

TRANS-NEROLIDOL has a complex aroma that is floral and woody with hints of melon, apple and rose. It is a good antifungal terpene against candida, works to rid the body of parasites, and is strongly antibacterial against some common bacterial infections. It has sedative and relaxing properties, helping to get a better night’s sleep. 

One of the best aspects for me is that it penetrates the skin very well and enhances the absorption of other ingredients. Perfect when making cannabis-infused skincare products.

It is found in Ginger, Jasmine and Neroli EO’s, and in Jack Herer, Skywalker OG, and Afghan Moon cannabis varieties.

DELTA-3 CARENE  has a strong aroma that is sweet and citrussy with a diesel undertone. It can dry out excess fluids which makes it useful with hay fever nasal congestion, but this also contributes to dry eyes and cotton mouth sensation that comes with many cannabis strains.

It can improve memory and cognitive function, as well as promote bone growth and health. It’s anti-inflammatory properties are always beneficial.

It is found in Pine, Cedarwood, and Cypress EO’s, and Jack Herer, Super Lemon Haze, and AK-47 cannabis varieties.

CAMPHENE has a very pungent “wet earth” smell like damp pine needles on a forest floor. It’s a good expectorant and cough suppressant for bronchitis, as well as being analgesic. It’s also antibacterial and antifungal.

It is found in Sage, Ginger, and Cypress EO’s, and in White Widow, Strawberry Kush, and White Cookies cannabis varieties.

BORNEOL smells very fresh and minty with a touch of herbal earthiness. It helps to amplify the permeability of the blood brain barrier, which can reduce the potential for a stroke. It also allows for THC to bind with specialised receptors in the CNS and brain. This study found that it reduced lung inflammation, and it is known to be protective of the cardiovascular system. When it combines with CBD and THC, it enhances the analgesic effect, making it a good choice for pain relief.

It is found in Sweet Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage, and in OG Kush, Amnesia Haze, and Girl Scout Cookies cannabis varieties.

OCIMENE has a sweet, woodsy, herbal aroma with just a hint of lavender, and this terpene has quite energising effects. It is being researched further for its effects as an anti-inflammatory agent as well as an antifungal agent.

It is found in Basil, Lavender, and Tagetes EO’s, and in Jack Herer, Sour Diesel, and Black Afghan cannabis varieties.

GERANIOL has a sweet, rosy, floral aroma with a twist of citrus. As such, it is very commonly used in perfumes and for fragrancing products. It enhances the absorption of cannabinoids like CBD and THC in topicals, which is of great benefit. It helps reduce oxidative stress and the inflammatory response in diabetic neuropathy while protecting the structure and function of the nerve cells, and is being researched for use against cancer. 

It is found in Rose, Geranium, and Palmarosa EO’s, and in Lemon Haze, Jack Herer, and Super Lemon Haze cannabis varieties.

VALENCENE has a fresh sweet, citrus aroma with hints of herbs and woods. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system and is a great mood elevator. This helps with stress and anxiety, as well as being a functional anti-inflammatory for chronic conditions like arthritis.

It is protective of the skin and can counter the damaging effects of UV radiation. The protective effect extends to dermatitis by enhancing skin barrier proteins. As an antioxidant, it neutralises free radicals and limits the damage they cause – especially valuable in anti-ageing skin care.

It is found in Valencian Orange, Tangerine, and Clementine EO’s, and in Tangie, Sour Diesel, and Agent Orange cannabis varieties.

Valencene terpene is great for stress and anxiety
Valencene terpene is great for stress and anxiety

How Do I Use Essential Oil Terpenes In A Cream?

This needs to be easy, so this is a simple and easy-to-make cream formulation that can have the relevant essential oils added for therapeutic use.

Ingredients

  • 88g Boiling Distilled Water
  • 10g Olivem 1000 Emulsifier (this sometimes has different names) (*affiliate link)
  • 1g Saliguard® PCG (this sometimes has different names) (*affiliate link)
  • 1g Essential Oil of your choice
    100g Total

Method

  • Weigh the distilled boiling distilled water, and add to a heatproof jug and drop in the emulsifier. It will quickly melt.
  • Stir with a silicon spatula for a few seconds.
  • Use an immersion blender / stick blender in the jug and keep it at the bottom of the jug. Blend for 30 seconds.
  • Leave to stand for 1 minute and then blend again for 30 seconds.
  • Remove the blender and stir with the silicon spatula until the cream has cooled to below 40℃.
  • When it has cooled down, stir in the Saliguard® PCG and whichever essential oil you have chosen. Stir again, then jar and label.


You probably have all the equipment needed in your kitchen, but if you want to read more about the tools and equipment I use, read this blog here.

If you want to make a cream with cannabis-infused oil, read this blog post.

Conclusion

Understanding the diverse and beneficial roles of terpenes in both cannabis and aromatherapy can significantly enhance your therapeutic experiences. From their aromatic contributions to their medicinal properties, terpenes like Myrcene, Limonene, and Caryophyllene offer a wide range of effects, from relaxation and anti-inflammatory benefits to enhancing the entourage effect in cannabis.

By identifying and utilising specific terpenes, you can tailor your cannabis and essential oil use to suit your personal needs, whether it’s for pain relief, anxiety reduction, or improving cognitive function. Embrace the power of terpenes and explore their potential to elevate your wellness routine. 

FAQ

What are Terpenes in Cannabis?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in cannabis that give each strain its unique aroma and flavour profile. Many of the terpenes are the same that you find in essential oils.

How do Terpenes Contribute to the Effects of Cannabis?

Cannabis terpenes work in synergy with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to enhance or modify the overall effects of cannabis. In aromatherapy, the terpenes often work synergistically with each other.

Can Terpenes Get You High?

Terpenes themselves won’t make you feel high, but they can influence the overall cannabis experience by interacting with cannabinoids. If you have been experiencing stress, anxiety and pain, and then a combination of terpenes helps to reduce the pain and elevate your mood, you could be excused for thinking that you were possibly high, even though you are not.

Are Terpenes Also Found in Plants Other Than Cannabis?

Absolutely yes! Cannabis terpenes are what go to make cannabis smell the way it does. The huge variety of citrus, rosy, woody, herbal, spicy aromas found in a vast variety of plants are also the result of terpenes.

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