Primary Cannabis Terpenes – Terpineol, Valencence, and Humulene

Terpenes | Cannabis Plant | What’s in my CBD product? | Terpineol | Valencence | Humulene | Secondary Cannabis Terpenes | Summary

As the third and final volume in our primary cannabis terpenes series, we explore the final three terpenes that make up the top 11, “primary” terpenes.  Terpineol, Valencene and Humulene.  They remind us of all of the fantastic health effects that are possible by the individual and combinations of these compounds.

What are Terpenes?

As a reminder, terpenes are essentials oils that are found in plants.  They are aromatic, organic hydrocarbons that give plants their unique aromas and serve a variety of purposes.  In plants they can fend off insects or grazers, provide environmental protection, prevent fungus and more.  Bees use terpenes to communicate flower locations and these are the essential oils used by humans in aromatherapy.

Your nose will often be the best indicator for which terpenes are dominant in a plant.  In fact, you will notice that many of the terpenes name reflect their main plant origin.  Valencene is prevalent in Valencia oranges, Geraniol is dominant in geraniums, et cetera.

The Cannabis Plant, Marijuana and Hemp

Throughout history, the cannabis plant has been used in various forms, be it marijuana or hemp, for its health benefits.  Marijuana is the version that contains THC as the primary cannabinoid in the plant, and hemp is the name we give to cannabis where THC is basically zero.  Today hemp is bred for the dominant cannabinoid to be CBD, but there is more. 

There are over 100 other cannabinoids and over 200 terpenes found in the cannabis plant as well.  Different strains of both marijuana and hemp have different concentrations created to drive specific aromas, benefits and/or effects.

What is in my CBD Product?

When you purchase a CBD product, assuming it is less than 0.3% THC and therefore federally legal, it is coming from hemp, or the non-THC named version of cannabis.  it will typically fall into one of four classifications:  Full-Spectrum, Broad-spectrum, CBD Isolate or CBD-terpene combinations.

Full-spectrum products include all the cannabinoids and terpenes of the cannabis plant.  This allows you to benefit from the interaction of all the natural compounds, through what is called the entourage effect.  This combination of interactions is shown to provide substantially more health benefits.  This makes sense since they have been developed naturally by the plants to be effective partners.

Broad-spectrum products are like full spectrum, but essentially have gone through an extra process to remove every bit of THC.  This can cost a bit more but provides extra assurance for those worried about the presence of THC.

CBD isolate is just pure CBD isolated from everything else.  This tends to be limiting but may be desired by certain people for specific purposes.

CBD-terpene combinations have a large amount of CBD but also a specific combination of terpenes to create a desired effect.  An example might be Blueberry OG which is a strain grown for the terpenes that provide more relaxing, anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Primary Cannabis Terpenes

Of the over 100 terpenes found in the cannabis plant, there are 11 that have been identified as the primary terpenes.  This designation is based on the concentration level.  We have covered 8 of these in the previous two articles, starting with the top 5 which are much more dominant than the others.  We finish the series with the final three (3).  Every terpene is interesting to think about which plants have them in high quantities and how it effects their aroma and survival. 

The science behind terpenes is growing rapidly but much is still not understood.  β Caryophyllene is the only so far with evidence showing how it interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).  However, many studies are using terpenes for treatment development.  One great example is that linalool is known to help with epilepsy and is being used in Alzheimer’s research.


lilacs have terpineol, one of the primary cannabis terpenes
Lilacs’ pleasant odor is due in part to the Terpineol terpene

Terpineol is one of several primary terpenes that has an extremely pleasant odor and is commonly used in perfumes, lotions, and soaps.  It falls on the spectrum of having very relaxing versus energizing effects.  Studies in mice show that it may be one of the causes of “couchlock” in certain strains.  The mice did not have couches apparently, but they did have decreased mobility.

Some of the plants you find terpineol in include lilacs, pine trees, and lime blossoms.  It often is present in plants which also have a large Pinene concentration.  That potent pine scent may drown out this aroma and make it hard to identify.


Valencene is, of course, found in Valencia oranges and has that sweet, citrusy aroma.  This is the terpene that is responsible for that smell in the various cannabis strains including Agent Orange.  There is little known about the health impacts, but it is known to repel insects in general, and ticks and mosquitos for humans. 


For the beer lovers out there, Humulene is a primary cannabis terpenes also present in high quantities in hops.  It has a dominant odor of earth, wood, spice.  These scents are what give hoppy beer their unique aroma.

It has been shown in research to be an appetite suppressant and also has antibacterial and potent anti-inflammatory properties.

a hop vine, showing that hops have their aroma coming from the primary cannabis terpene - humulene
Hops have a lot of the Humulene Terpene which is responsible for the unique aroma.

Secondary cannabis Terpenes

The 20 “secondary” terpenes found in the cannabis plant are too numerous to detail here and exist in relatively low quantities, but there are some fun ones to highlight for you.

Phytol – Phytoal is found in green tea, it has been found to inhibit the enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter GABA and may cause relaxation.

Isoborneol – Isoborneol is found in mugwort.  It’s antiviral properties help it to prevent herpes simplex virus type 1.


Terpenes are a natural and important part of all plants, including cannabis.  Terpenes have developed in plants as part of their evolution to survive over thousands of years.  The primary cannabis terpenes are naturally designed to interact with each other in amazing ways.  These interactions with many functions of the human body, including the human endocannabinoid system, have many effects. 

The most effective way to get these effects is to utilize a full- or broad- spectrum CBD product.  But, if you are looking for more specific combinations, please feel free to ask us for advice and try some CBD-terpene specific combinations.

We hope this series has been a helpful part of our CBD education series.  There is much to learn about the various health impacts and we will follow-up with more detailed updates as they develop.


David Jadwin is the co-owner of The Green Dragon CBD with his son, Matthew. David worked as a senior business executive for more than 30 years helping companies grow and succeed across many different industries in all parts of the world. David is active in researching CBD health topics and can be seen on many educational YouTube videos. Please feel free to connect with David on LinkedIn and follow The Green Dragon’s account.

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