How Are Terpenes Different From THC and CBD?

How Are Terpenes Different From THC and CBD?


Terpenes are a large class of naturally occurring, aromatic, organic compounds that are found in and produced by many plants and some insects. Terpenes give a plant its distinctive smell and taste, and in the case of plants from the genus, Cannabis, terpenes contribute to how the cannabinoids are experienced in something called “The Entourage Effect.”

Sometimes you may hear the word terpenoid. Terpenoids are modified terpenes that have gone through oxidation and have some functional groups added to the molecule, and the molecule also takes on a different shape.

In theory, plants (and some insects) produce terpenes to deter predators and attract pollinators. Many terpenes and terpenoids are biologically active, and some are the basis for some prescription drugs, such as the anti-cancer drug, Taxol, and the anti-malarial drug, artemisinin.


THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (or cannabidiol) are a different class of organic compounds. Both THC and CBD are both cannabinoids produced only by plants in the genus, Cannabis.

So, THC and CBD have a different chemical make-up than terpenes, a different molecular shape, and a different function.

Cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors that make up what we call the endocannabinoid system in cells. These receptors affect the release of neurotransmitters.

THC is the cannabinoid that is considered the main psychoactive compound in Cannabis plants grown for marijuana. Cannabis plants grown for hemp contain little or no THC.

CBD is the cannabinoid that is currently being researched for its medicinal benefits including the relief of nausea and pain.

The Entourage Effect

So, the exact role of terpenes in Cannabis plants is not fully understood. It is theorized that terpenes have a synergistic effect in combination with other cannabinoids, adding to the overall experience and effects of other cannabinoids.

Most people want to keep the terpenes with their CBD, and that’s why we designed extraction equipment that specifically does not strip out or damage the terpenes.

Atomic Extraction is an industrial manufacturer of high-quality, closed-loop extraction equipment used for extracting CBD from hemp and based in Victoria, BC, Canada. If you have any questions about this article or closed-loop extraction, in general, please contact us at (778) 214-5153

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