What Are Botanical Terpenes and What Do They Do?

an image of several plants and fruits that are used for their botanical terpenes, including lemons pepper, and lavender.

What Are Botanical Terpenes and What Do They Do?

an image of several plants and fruits that are used for their botanical terpenes, including lemons pepper, and lavender.
an image of botanical terpenes being poured into a series of glass containers.

Botanical terpenes have been used to enhance so many different parts of our lives, and we don’t even really notice it. Although once thought of as simply aromatic and flavour enhancing chemicals, these compounds have found their way into everything from cosmetics to therapeutics and cannabis.

Are these chemical compounds simply a hoax, or do they live up to the name they have garnered this far?

What is a Botanical-Derived Terpene?

Botanical terpenes are chemical compounds found in plants from across the world that have distinct aromas, flavours, and therapeutic profiles. Used in naturopathic medicine by cultures for thousands of years, extracted botanic terpenes cut out the middle man and let us hone in on our favourites like limonene or menthol.

In terms of cannabis, botanically derived terpenes can enhance the flavour, aroma, and even the entourage effect of a strain. Plainly put, botanical terpenes can have a huge effect on a strain and your overall body.

But how exactly are these terpenes made? Well, the process varies between terpenes, but generally, they are extracted from a non cannabis plant, and then infused into a product. Meaning, botanical terpenes offer an experience outside of what is normal for marijuana.

What is a Cannabis Derived Terpene

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of botanical-derived terpenes, what are the terpenes that naturally occur within the marijuana plant?

Cannabis-derived terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds in marijuana that affect the taste, smell, and the effects of a strain. Most of the 120 different types of naturally occurring terpenes found aren’t exactly unique to cannabis but instead can be found in a wide variety of plants.

Different terpenes, especially cannabis-derived terpenes, offer a range of therapeutic benefits like anti-inflammation and anxiety relief.

Botanical Terpenes Vs Cannabis-Derived Terpenes

A tincture of botanical terpene infused CBD oil sitting on a white background with a green plant.
an image of a person holding lavender flowers, Lavender flowers are used to create the linalool botanical terpene.

It’s quite hard to put botanical-derived terpenes against everyday marijuana terpenes, mainly because they serve two different roles.

From our experience, while botanical terpenes offer a heightened taste and smell, they do less to affect the overall high.

For example, Back Forty’s Kush Mint Cartridge has several botanical terpenes that have allowed it to offer a distinct menthol chill, but it stays true to the original strain in terms of effect.

Cannabis-derived terpenes on the other hand often have much more muted taste and smell profiles, but instead, affect the overall high way more. While you do get plenty of variety in the taste between different strains, the difference won’t be as stark as the fruit explosion many carts and pre-rolls offer nowadays.

Botanical terpenes also have an edge when it comes to pricing, as it’s much easier to cultivate many terpene crops than it is to grow marijuana.

Overall, we would say the cannabis-derived terpenes are much more important, but a nice botanical terpene can take a strain from tasting average to great.

Entourage Effect

Don’t be alarmed if you have never heard of the entourage effect, even if you have been smoking for years.

The entourage effects refer to the interactions between different chemical compounds like terpenes, THC, and CBD, and how they affect a user when consumed together.

The combined presence of these different terpenes and cannabinoids gives us our distinct strains. It also explains why different strains offer completely different highs despite technically both being cannabis.

To give a medical definition; the entourage effect is the interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes that can modulate the psychoactive, medicinal, and physiological outcomes of cannabis use. This can then potentially result in unique and more comprehensive effects that go beyond what isolated compounds can deliver.

Outside of the easily noticeable effects, the entourage effect can also offer a host of therapeutic and medical uses.

The human body is a wonderful thing, and it really seems as though we have a strong connection with cannabis and terpenes.

Common Cannabis-derived Terpenes

Terpene botanicals may offer a more potent flavor than their natural counterparts, but nothing really beats Mother Nature. We have come close but the unique effects that can be found among different landraces and hybrids are unmatched.

Some common terpenes found in cannabis strains include:

  • Myrcene: Found primarily in herbal cannabis strains, myrcene has a musky, earthy aroma. It is also found in hops and is responsible for the “hoppy” scent in beer. Myrcene is believed to have sedative and relaxing effects.
  • Limonene: This terpene gives off a citrusy aroma, reminiscent of lemons and oranges. It’s also most commonly found in sativa strains. Limonene is thought to have mood-enhancing and stress-relieving properties.
  • Pinene: As the name suggests, pinene has a pine-like woody aroma. It’s found in coniferous trees, as well as herbs like rosemary and sage. Pinene is associated with increased alertness and focus.
  • Linalool: Known for its floral and slightly spicy scent, linalool is also found in lavender. It’s often considered to have relaxing and anti-anxiety effects.
  • Caryophyllene: With a spicy and peppery aroma, caryophyllene is probably the most common terpene you will find in cannabis. However, it’s unique among terpenes because it can also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
  • Humulene: Found in hops, basil, and sage, humulene has an earthy and woody aroma. It’s been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Common Botanical Terpenes

Botanically derived terpenes show up in a number of our everyday products, from soap and cologne to spices and fruit. Because of this, there are tons of terpenes to choose from when distributors are looking to create a new flavourful weed.

Some common botanical terpenes include:

  • Eucalyptol: Found primarily in eucalyptus, rosemary, and mint, this terpene offers a refreshing, minty aroma and is associated with potential respiratory benefits.
  • Menthol: Menthol, from mint plants, delivers a cool, minty sensation. It’s used in various products for its soothing and refreshing properties.
  • Geraniol: floral and sweet terpene with a pleasant aroma present in roses, flowers, and fruits. Also offers calming and antioxidant properties which make it a favored ingredient in skincare and aromatherapy.
  • Cedrene: Although also naturally occurring in cannabis, cedrene can be added to offer a fresh, woody, and sweet scent.
  • Delta-3 Carene: This terpene offers an intense, sweet, and citrusy aroma. It is also known to be a strong anti-inflammatory.
  • Sabinene: Found in hops, basil, and sage, humulene has an earthy and woody aroma. It’s been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Are Botanical Terpenes Safe to Smoke?

an image of a botanical terpene infused distillate vape cartridge. The strain is an indica dominant hybrid

To start, any type of smoking comes with its own unique drawbacks, and different individuals may have reactions to certain chemical compounds.

That being said, smoking botanically derived terpenes doesn’t add any additional risk that regular cannabis wouldn’t offer. However, if you attempt to inhale concentrated terpenes on their own, you can damage your lungs and other organs.

Just as with anything else, when adding botanical terpenes to a cannabis product, individuals and companies alike need to understand the proper ratios.

Botanical Terpene Cost and Availability

Botanical terpenes offer significant benefits in terms of cost and availability compared to cannabis-derived terpenes.

As terpenes are natural compounds found in various plants, they can be farmed from many crops that are known to be more resilient than cannabis. For example, Limonene can be found in a huge number of citrus plants, making it super easy to extract.

This widespread availability and easier extraction methods is what drives botanical terpenes into the spotlight as an economically viable option. As time goes on, don’t be surprised if you see more and more botanical terpenes in your weed to enhance flavour and aroma.

Health Benefits of Terpenes

Terpenes are found in an insane number of plants, and seeing as we have evolved around many of them, the human body has unique interactions with many compounds.

The main way they affect us is through our body’s endocannabinoid systems along with other receptors. These interactions have proved to offer certain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, pain-relieving, and anxiety-reducing effects.

It really depends on what terpene you use, as certain terpenes, like limonene and linalool, can offer mood-enhancing properties along with stress relief.

While research is ongoing, these natural compounds show exciting potential for holistic well-being and could play a pivotal role in future therapeutic applications.

Cannabis-Derived Terpenes Pros

an image of a cannabis plant that is showing off its trichomes which contain cannabinoids and terpenes.

Although there are plenty of benefits to both botanical and cannabis-derived terpenes, the natural variety of terpenes in cannabis is truly amazing.

Here are the pros to cannabis-derived terpenes:

  • Authentic Aromas and Flavors: Cannabis-derived terpenes provide the distinct aromas and flavors of all our favourite cannabis strains.
  • Entourage Effect: When combined with cannabinoids, cannabis terpenes contribute to the entourage effect, potentially boosting therapeutic benefits through synergistic interactions.
  • Strain-Specific Effects: Each cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile that contributes to its specific effects.
  • Enhanced Efficacy: The presence of cannabis-specific terpenes enhances the efficacy of some cannabinoids, potentially increasing their overall effectiveness.
  • Potential Health Benefits: Cannabis terpenes, like myrcene and pinene, could potentially offer various health advantages, including anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pain-relieving effects.
  • Natural and Organic: Cannabis-derived terpenes are natural compounds extracted from the cannabis plant, aligning with organic and holistic preferences.
  • Craftsmanship and Customization: Terpene profiles have been fine-tuned to create unique products, showcasing the craftsmanship and expertise of producers.

Botanical Terpene Pros

As we looked at, botanically derived terpenes can offer a cost-effective option for those looking to take advantage of terpenes.

Here are the pros to botanical terpenes:

  • Cost-Effective: Botanically derived terpenes are generally more affordable to extract and produce, making them a cost-effective option for flavor and aroma enhancement.
  • Wide Variety: Botanical sources offer a vast array of terpene profiles, allowing for diverse options to create unique products with different scents and tastes.
  • Ease of Availability: Botanical terpenes are widely accessible from a variety of plants, ensuring a consistent supply for manufacturers.
  • Legality: In regions with strict cannabis regulations, using botanically derived terpenes can provide a legal and compliant way to add desired flavors and aromas to products.
  • Safety and Familiarity: Botanical terpenes are commonly used in various industries, such as food and cosmetics, and their safety profile is generally well understood, adding an extra layer of comfort for consumers.


The information in this article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.


Are you still a little bit confused about some other aspects of botanical terpenes? No need to worry, I’ll answer your questions.

How Are Botanical Terpenes Used?

Botanically derived terpenes are used in a variety of products in our everyday life. Outside of cannabis, they are used in cosmetics, perfumes, industry, medicine, topicals, aromatherapy, and flavoring.

What Is the Difference Between Botanical and Cannabis Derived Terpenes (CDT)?

The main difference between botanical and cannabis-derived terpenes is the source, variety, cost, and legality.
Botanicals are much easier to get, cost less, and are legal in many more countries.

What are the side effects of botanical terpenes?

Botanical terpenes don’t really have many definite side effects, however, pay close attention to potential allergies.
The only real danger is if you consume a botanical terpene that you happen to be allergic to.

Are Cannabis Derived Terpenes Legal?

The legality of cannabis-derived terpenes depends on the specific regulations and laws of the region you are in. 
In some places, cannabis-derived terpenes might be subject to the same regulations as cannabis itself. In Canada, cannabis-derived terpenes are legal.

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