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Most of us are familiar with the dreaded afternoon slump or occasionally waking up feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep. Most cannabis consumers think of high sativa-to-indica ratios when they’re looking for an uplifting strain. However, an increasing body of research has concluded that the terpenes in cannabis significantly influence whether a strain produces sedative or motivating effects. 

What Are Terpenes in Cannabis?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that plants make to attract pollinators and ward off pests. Terpenes give flowers their delightful fragrances, imbue spices with their mouthwatering flavors, and endow herbs with their incredible healing properties.

Terpenes are also responsible for the taste and smell of cannabis as well as impacting its effects.

Energizing Terpenes in Cannabis


Limonene is probably the most energizing terpene. As the name suggests, limonene appears in citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and grapefruit. The terpene elevates moods by stimulating 5-HT1-a receptors, which causes the release of serotonin and dopamine.

Smelling limonene has such an uplifting effect that manufacturers often include the terpene in cleaning products. Limonene also has potent antimicrobial qualities. Limonene-rich strains include MAC and Do-Si-Do.


Most of us recall the refreshing smell of walking through an evergreen forest or spending the holidays with a live Christmas tree. Those uplifting aromas are primarily due to alpha-Pinene. Herbs like parsley, rosemary, and sage also have elevated pinene levels.

Alternative medicine practitioners often use pinene-rich herbs and essential oils to increase memory and alertness. Scientists are currently studying limonene for its therapeutic potential in treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Some high-pinene strains include Blue Dream, Grape Ape, and LA Confidential.


Eucalyptol has a minty flavor and is present in aromatic herbs like ginger, bay leaves, and eucalyptus. The terpene has a positive effect on respiration, which can increase overall energy levels. MMJ doctors also recommend high eucalyptol strains for fighting microbial infections, improving circulation, clearing the sinuses, and relieving pain.

Strains with elevated eucalyptol levels include Headband, Girl Scout Cookies, and Super Silver Haze.


Spicy beta-caryophyllene is also found in oregano, clove, and black pepper. Beta-caryophyllene is the only terpene that can interact directly with CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, making the compound both a terpene and a cannabinoid

Research has shown that beta-caryophyllene reduces neuroinflammation, boosting alertness and cognitive abilities. Strains with elevated beta-caryophyllene levels include Runtz, Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Glue #4.


Terpinolene gives cannabis a pleasant herbal aroma and is found in high quantities in nutmeg, apple skins, and tea tree oil. Although the terpene has a more relaxing effect when used alone, terpinolene becomes energizing when combined with THC.

Iconic strains like Durban Poison, Jack Herer, and Ghost Train Haze all have high terpinolene content.


One of the rarer cannabis terpenes, ocimene offers profound mood-elevating and energizing effects. The terpene is also a potent antioxidant that can help alleviate congestion and coughs. 

Its fragrance resembles fresh basil, mint, and parsley. You’ll find high ocimene content in Dutch Treat, Green Crack, and Strawberry Cough.

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