Anti-Inflammatory Cannabis Terpenes: What They Are, Why You Need Them

anti-inflammatory cannabis terpenes

We know you’re well-versed in the beneficial properties of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You know that they can help with stress, anxiety, pain, and inflammation. But, did you know that cannabis terpenes work together with CBD and THC to fight inflammation? Let’s dive into what anti-inflammatory cannabis terpenes are, what they do, and how they can benefit your customers.

Anti-Inflammatory Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes are fragrant oils produced alongside CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. They account for the distinctive smell and flavors of your cannabis. Some include pine, mint, berry, and citrus. Without terpenes, your cannabis would have very little taste or odor.
Cannabis terpenes evolved for the cannabis plant to draw pollinators and repel predators. Weather, climate, maturation, age, soil type, and fertilizer use all help to determine which terpenes will develop. Thanks to the wide variety of factors, over 200 terpenes have been noted to date.

Effects of Terpenes

Now that we know what terpenes are – what exactly do they do? Terpenes bind to receptors in the brain. By doing so, they work to either activate or inhibit the effects of other compounds found in the cannabis plant. They also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, provide antiparasitic benefits, and are powerful anti-inflammatories.

Some terpenes balance the less-desirable psychoactive and physiological effects of cannabis and provide therapeutic qualities not found in products that only contain CBD. One such terpenoid (a terpene that has been dried and cured and therefore undergone chemical modification) is beta-caryophyllene, or BCP. Cannabis contains a large amount of BCP, as do some food plants, legal herbs, and spices such as black pepper. It exists in some leafy green vegetables as well and acts essentially like a non-psychoactive anti-inflammatory.

The FDA has recognized terpenes and terpenoids as safe, though more research is necessary before professionals can adequately predict how cannabis terpenes can be used to treat various health conditions. The research so far is promising: cannabinoid terpenoid interactions have been shown to be effective treatment for inflammation, addiction, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, bacterial and fungal infections, and general pain.

Approximately 200 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant so far. Each plant strain is made up of a unique combination of these terpenes, which affects the different tastes, smells, and effects of the different strains. The fact that terpenes can produce such a wide variety of tastes and smells is impressive enough on its own, but what’s even more interesting is that doctors, patients, growers and sellers can test samples of a strain to verify which terpenes it contains. With this information, they can have more control over what kind of buzz or therapeutic effects they receive.

Popular Anti-Inflammatory Cannabis Terpenes

While there are too many terpenes to list here, let’s consider a few of the most popular:

  • Limonene. As you may have guessed from the name limonene has a citrusy smell. What you might not know is that they have potential anti-carcinogenic properties, among many other benefits.
  • Myrcene. This is the most prevalent terpene in cannabis varieties and is thought to increase the psychoactive effects of THC. It can also be used as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
  • Linalool. Linalool, a terpene with citrusy lavender smell, has tranquilizing effects and can help those with psychosis.
  • Caryophyllene. This terpene has a smell reminiscent of black pepper and is being studied for potential benefits in diabetes reduction and autoimmune disorders.
  • Alpha Bisabolol. This terpene is also found in chamomile, and also has a floral flavor and scent.
  • Borneol. Borneol smells similar to camphor and mint and can potentially help reduce fatigue and stress.
  • Delta-3 Carene. This terpene has a piney scent and has been found in 80 different strains in 162 cannabis plants.
  • Eucalyptol. Eucalyptol, predictably, smells like eucalyptus. Only small levels of this terpene are found in cannabis.
  • Nerolidol. This terpene smells like tree bark and has potential as a sleep aid.
  • Pinene. Pinene, like delta-3 carene, smells like pine. It is mostly found in citrus fruits and pine woods and has medical potential as an expectorant.

While this is far from all of the information available on terpenes, it’s a good place to start. If this piques your interest, join us for a CannaCon event in your area to learn more!


  1. Bruce Walker on May 19, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    I have a blood disorder (iron-deficit anemia) & it has affected my muscles, causing extreme weakness & pain. I’m on 300mg of ferrous Fumarate.

    I wanted CBD Oil specifically for *inflammation*, but I don’t think the stuff I have has enough caryophyllene, & it’s not working.

    Any suggestions?

    • Jade Green on September 13, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      It may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but check out Simpson Oil. There may be a cbd version or something related. Simpson oil is the best!

      • Justa Phillips on February 22, 2022 at 11:01 am

        RSO/Rick Simpson Oil is an amazing product, but is composed almost exclusively of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc) and virtually no terpenes. This is due to the extraction process–RSO is made with alcohol as a solvent, which destroys almost all terpenes.

        A similar style of product with a different method of extraction is FECO/Full Extract Cannabis Oil. FECO is made with CO2, which is much less harsh on the molecular structure of extracts, and results in a product that has very high terpene content.

        An important consideration–both FECO and RSO are unsafe for inhalation (smoking, vaping, or dabbing) because they naturally contain plant lipids (fats). Inhaling fats is REALLY bad for your lungs–lipids were the mystery culprit behind the “vape crisis” a few years ago. They can cause serious inflammation, and as we’ve seen, even death.

        RSO and FECO are appropriate only for eating, applying to skin, or using as a suppository/pessary.

        Although lipids/fats are dangerous to inhale, they are very important to have in products that are eaten, applied to skin, or used as a suppository. Fats play a crucial role in the absorption of cannabinoids and terpenes (and probably other bioactive compounds) of cannabis.

        Some FECO manufacturers remove the lipids from all of their products in order to make them more versatile–safe for dabbing and smoking. However, this lowers their efficacy as oral/topical/suppository applications, both by reducing lipids and by reducing terpenes to some degree during the lipid removal process.

        I recommend seeking out FECO manufacturers that offer products with natural lipid content, as well as natural full spectrum extracts. It’s also common in the industry for manufacturers to “mix and match” isolated terpene and cannabinoid extracts in a single product in order to have higher numbers on their labels.

        Personally I prefer to stick with minimally processed extracts, with naturally occurring cannabinoid/terpene ratio profiles. I make a point to look for and use products that are labeled as “full spectrum” (although one should always keep in mind that there is little oversight when it comes to labeling terms, and that integrity and quality vary from company to company).

        Full disclosure: I work for a company that specializes in producing FECO, especially high-CBD varieties. We also spend a lot of time and energy keeping up to date on cannabis science and sharing what we learn.

    • Chad on September 23, 2020 at 4:22 am

      Bruce, I have a couple autoimmune diseases and I find Myrcene, Alpha Bisabolo, and Caryophylle to be very beneficial. All of mine are inflammation stuff though. Also, I found hemp based CBD to be ineffective. The only CBD that has worked for me is the stuff from a dispensary. Cronuts #4, OG 18, Black D.O.G., and Gelato have been helpful strains for me.

      • Cliff on March 22, 2021 at 1:28 pm

        I have severe systemic rheumatoid arthritis and have found that to be true for me as well. The reason hemp CBD doesn’t really work too well is because it has no THC, and CBD needs a little THC (something like 2%) in order to effectively cross the blood/brain barrier.

        • Sylvie on June 27, 2021 at 3:20 am

          Hi Cliff,

          I have severe RA as well. Can you tell me what has been working for you?

      • Daisy on September 3, 2021 at 2:07 pm

        Checking in with a chronic inflammatory condition to agree; beta-myrcene, myrcene, carophylene, are my best pain terps.

        and hemp cbd is useless on me.
        It’s literally a waste on me as a patient, and by itself or in moderate amounts is just as ineffective. I look at cbd like an amplifier terpine for the terpines that I like.

        I’ve also found that sativa hybrids are more likely to ease my pain, but also far more likely to trigger ptsd and I “crash” hours later; however I may be an exception to the rules with my complex health as a heads up.

    • Rick Vonhuben on November 9, 2020 at 11:30 am

      Sometimes, CBD is isolated and terpenes are added to make a product, so you might not get any BCP at all.
      The essential oil of black pepper has a lot of b-Caryophyllene in it.

      Remember, there are other good anti-inflammatory terpenes as well:
      Carvone, Cineol (aka Eucalyptol), Limonene, Myrcene, Linalool, a-Bisabolol, Borneol, d-3 Carene, Nerolidol, a-Pinene.

      There is also a Flavonoid, Cannaflavin A, that has huge anti-inflammatory properties, but i have not been able to find a source for that isolate. Certain strains of Cannabis contain Cannaflavin, although the one I have confirmed is a hemp strain BOAX.

    • Sarah Leighton on November 17, 2020 at 1:04 pm

      Have you ever tried consuming raw cannabis. Thca does not get you high and I have found great relief with juicing raw cannabis and using the juice in fruit and vegetable smoothies.

      • Gabrielle Pickens on March 22, 2022 at 3:34 pm

        What???? Can you give me details ? Juicing???

        • Sandra on July 15, 2022 at 11:32 am

          I am also interested in juicing… can you please give me more info.. thank you for your time..

      • mj on July 29, 2022 at 11:24 pm

        Hi. Could I have details too.

    • Thaddeus F Setla on February 1, 2021 at 11:34 am

      We make a pain and inflammation CBD oil with added B-Carophyllene, Many of my customers are looking for this. (

    • Jillian on March 18, 2021 at 8:38 am

      I’ve tried many good name brand cbd oils for inflammation and experience zero relief as well. Inflammation is best defeated when miles with both CBD and THC. In my case I consulted a RN at my dispensary and discovered terpenes play a powerful role in fighting Inflammation. I’m a firm believer in limonene. Its made a huge difference!

    • Christopher Carlson on November 28, 2021 at 7:34 am

      That could be low on Beta Caryophyllene but one important thing to know is that not all CBD is created equally. First of all, it’s been my experience that dosages with most companies are very low. 5- 20 mg is a fairly standard amount found in cbd products yet this amount wont be very useful as medicine for most. One can generally tolerate much higher dosages. Another thing to consider is the form of cbd used. If a cbd product is full spectrum, they have not stripped it of other cannibinoids, which I belive make its effectiveness exponentially higher. For this reason I always recommend full spectrum. Some product are made from isolate which is ONLY cbd isolated down to its purest form. While this has its applications such as I gummy making, I recommend you avoid this for medicinal use for the same reason.
      Another thing to consider is that cbd may be somewhat difficult for the body to process in it’s natural size. Some products contain cbd that have been put through a process called nano-emulsification, this will produce cbd molecules that are much smaller than their original size and easier to absorb than its originally sized counterpart.
      If you look around you should be able to find a nano emulsified product that is full spectrum that contains the terpenes you want.
      As of the time of this writing I have started a company that can provide this at an affordable price and my web site will be up and running soon. Stay well.

    • Janette Jones on July 18, 2022 at 7:24 am

      Start cooking everything in cast iron pans.

    • Frescoe on January 16, 2023 at 9:27 pm

      RSO are not all created equal. i promise if you check out Lazarus oils in their RSO full extract syringes you will feel it in 15 minutes!! no joke. its a little pricey but its strong enough without the enteroche effect and it squeezes out easy. if i had the cash id buy the largest syringe i believe it was 3000mg..Boom!!

  2. Debra Jonklaas on June 30, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    I am a 66 year old female with several chronic pain issues including Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, and hypertensive pelvic floor disorder. I’ve seen some information on CBG, CBD, and other Cannabinoids which also include THC. Do you have a suggestion as to what might be the most effective for my muscle and joint pain? I’ve been using THC/CBD and THC/CBG gummies that are 1to1, but would like a recommendation. Thanks

    • Janette Jones on July 18, 2022 at 7:26 am

      Read Plant Paradox by Dr Gundry. Then follow it.

  3. Rick on August 28, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Agree with most of the comments, different strokes for different folks
    Most of the ailments ,especially the inflammatory ones can be halted ,regressed,even cured by a simple abstinence.
    No SUGAR, Whatsoever, and no refined carbs , infact anything processed .
    You can eat meat fish, Vedgetables especially green
    Vedges, plenty of water and only one meal a day , anytime between 4-8 pm, then nothing till the next evening. Lots of good water, bottled mineral.,do this for 1 month and you will have clarity in your thinking , and a much nicer shape, you will feel wonderful .
    Haven’t got the space to explain the science but I can assure you it works
    If you like to follow the gurus of this form of healing .
    1, Dr Pradip Jamnadas, cardiologist.
    2,other holistic practitioners on the same sight on utube
    Good luck , all you need is determination and perseverance, and strength of character, it costs nothing and you have nothing to loose.

    • Janette Jones on July 18, 2022 at 7:28 am

      Thank you Rick! Im starting today. (What you said)

  4. Overview of Terpenes – BioSmart CBD on April 26, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    […] Anti-Inflammatory Cannabis Terpenes: What they are and why you need them […]

  5. […] called terpenes, which suppress cytokine production and inhibit cell proliferation. Roughly 200 terpenes have been identified so far in cannabis, among them linalool, which has a positive effect on mental […]

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