What are terpenes?

Introduction to Terpenes

Terpenes (pronounced tur-peens) are highly aromatic compounds that give plants their unique aroma. Terpenes are incredibly important to plants, as they play a role in natural protection from bacteria and fungus, insects, and other environmental stresses. 

If you know someone who is into essential oils, then you have heard theories of how terpenes affect humans, too. Lemongrass, lavender, tea tree, lavender, rose, or jasmine are lauded for their semi-mystical power to calm, delight, excite, and arouse. 

There is actually scientific research behind this - humans have an “endocannabinoid system” (ECS), which is a complex cell-signaling system identified by researchers in the early 1990’s. As a relatively newly-discovered system, it is the subject of a great deal of research. What we have learned in the last three decades is that the ECS is a critical biological system just like the circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems. It regulates many of your body’s processes including appetite, immunity, fertility, metabolism, sleep, exercise, pregnancy, pain sensation, mood, memory, and many other basic functions. 

The ECS is activated whenever we taste, smell, or ingest something with a chemical signal. These signals cause our bodies to produce molecules that bind to receptors and release enzymes. Terpenes, as highly aromatic compounds, produce chemical signals that cause our ECS to react. It’s believed that its primary purpose of the ECS is to restore homeostasis to our physiological and neurological systems when they get out of balance.

When it comes to medicinal herbs, most people like to smell the terpenes in order to get an idea of its affect ("The nose knows" is a maxim). Strains that smell of lemons (the terpene limonene) are known to improve a person’s mood. Strains that smell of pine (the terpene pinene) make you alert and able to remember. Strains that smell like cloves or musk (the terpene myrcene) deliver sedative, relaxing effects. These are prominent terpenes, but there between 140 and 200 terpenes in most strains. Certain minor terpenes may be imperceptible to our olfactory system, but every terpene impacts the ECS. In fact, these minor terpenes may have major effects as they interact with and create pathways for other chemical signals (commonly referred to as "the entourage effect").

That’s a quick overview of terpenes - what they are, how they work, and how they might affect you. This is an amazingly rich subject area, so if it interests you, we encourage you to keep learning with some of the links below. Please share any that we should include in the comments section, too!

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★ Customer Reviews

What customers are saying

29 reviews


cool versatile device that really works

Great product. I have had fun finding suitable bowls and pipes and have several good options already. Leaning curve isn't huge if you are familiar with convection. I was able to get great results with very little effort. Recommended for the connoisseur who likes to coax the best flavours from their herb in a relaxed and laid back fashion.

Convenient and simple

Love the size, battery last, and makes the process to be an enjoyable experience.

Excellent product, excellent service

I was so excited to get my Neo and of course I immediately dropped it and shattered the chimney. I was able to send it in for repair and get it back in a week! The flavor is complex and delicious and I've found it works great for concentrates as well as flower. Very pleased with it!

Great product!

After a slow start (making sure battery was installed and working, understanding how to control the pull based on the color and brightness of the orange burn, and finally seeing an exhale...) it has been fabulous. Plus, it extends the “life” of the flower in the bowl. Really like this thing!