terpeneThe Werc Shop was the first laboratory to begin profiling terpenes within medicinal cannabis in the summer of 2011. We remain the leaders in this dynamic new frontier of understanding by screening for many different terpenes using advanced gas-chromatographic techniques. Unlike most other labs, we don’t just do something to say we’re doing it or to copy other’s efforts, we do things for a solid scientific reason. We decided to embark on screening for terpenes as they are critical to understanding which strain is actually which strain, and they are ultimately responsible for delivering the complex effects provided by whole plant medicinal cannabis products. Any patient who has attempted to utilize only THC or CBD to determine their optimal medicine will quickly be able to tell you that comparing only THC values will not help you identify which strain is best for them. Cannabis is far more complex than only one, or two, cannabinoids delivering the therapeutic effect. Terpenes modify and modulate the effects of THC and other cannabinoids and impact the overall medicinal properties of the particular cultivar. Terpenes are also predominant players in the smell and taste of medicinal cannabis.

Terpenes are all flavor and fragrance components common to human diets, and they have been designated Generally Recognized as Safe by the US Food and Drug Administration. Terpenes share a common precursor with phytocannabinoids and they are quite potent on their own, being known to affect animal and even human behavior when inhaled from ambient air at serum levels in the single digit ng/mL range. Simply put, it doesn’t take much of them to make a physiological impact! Terpenes display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute to the overall effects of medicinal cannabis; a reason whole based medicines are superior to single-molecule cannabinoid therapies like Marinol® or other synthetics like Rimonabant. The synergy of terpenes and cannabinoids are most likely responsible for providing the effective treatment of pain, anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, depression, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Terpenes are the components responsible for the plethora of powerful medicinal benefits delivered by cannabis.

A recent publication by Ethan Russo of GW Pharmaceuticals in the British Journal of Pharmacology (http://10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x) describes this effect, which is now being termed the entourage effect. For medicinal cannabis patients to receive the proper medication, finding the right strain/product required to meet their medical needs, they will need to understand the terpene content and seek to harness the complete entourage effect being delivered by their particular strain selection. No other lab offers the breadth of terpenes analyzed that we offer, ultimately meaning no other lab can provide the same fundamental understanding of your cannabis strain as we can! In the case of medicinal cannabis, more information is definitely better than less!

Recently a particular cultivator discovered this important differentiation. Having submitted a variety of new strains they were working on developing, many unique terpene profiles were observed. Out of 10 different samples submitted, if you were to only look at THC and CBD content, the strains would have appeared only average and non-unique. However, comparing their terpene profiles revealed significantly new strains had been created which possessed profiles unlike anything our laboratory had seen before! If these samples were processed at another lab, they most likely would have sacrificed these new strains assuming they were still common. Fortunately, they had them analyzed properly by The Werc Shop and they now can continue to work with these novel medicines in hopes of finding which patients can best benefit from them! Initial explorations are exceptionally promising and the patients being positively impacted are certainly glad the strains were properly analyzed!

Currently there is not a great deal of information known about the terpenes and their combined effect with the cannabinoids present in cannabis, and certainly not in any vast combination like you experience with any strain you encounter today. Individually there is a small understanding of some of the effects of these molecules in general, and can be described as follows.

Pinenes: Pine odor, bronchodilators that opens the lungs to possibly improve THC absorption. Responsible for increasing focus, self-satisfaction, and energy.

Caryophyllene: Sweet, woody, clove taste responsible for anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects through CB2 receptor activation.

Linalool: Floral smell that is believed to provide some anti-cancer effects as well as being known to cause severe sedation.

Limonene: Has a citrus scent and may possess anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-depression abilities.

Myrcene: Most likely effects intake of THC by brain cells to increase the overall effects of THC when ingested together.

It is important to note that while the effects listed above were predominantly found for the single component being studied individually. The effects within a cannabis matrix may be far different than when delivered alone. We strongly suggest patients seek to understand their preferred strains by identifying the top few terpenes (now found on our labels) and continue to seek the same medicine in the future through identification of a similar top terpene fingerprint, whether or not the name of the strain is the same.

If you are a serious medical provider and are dedicated to discovering and developing the best natural products for your fellow patient members, you need to be looking at the terpenes of your strains! We can’t begin to tell you how many different people have commented they had no idea about their particular strains until they had them analyzed by our laboratory. Collective managers, caregivers and providers of this medicine owe it to their patients to enable them to better understand which strains and products are best for them and their ailments, and to do that they need to screen their terpene profile. The future starts today, and it starts with a better understanding of the physiologically active components of the medicine you are consuming. Stay tuned as we are now developing the next generation of tools to truly help the community embrace this understanding and further aid in improving patient care.


  • α-Bisabolol
  • β-Caryophyllene
  • Caryophyllene oxide
  • α-Humulene
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Myrcene
  • α-Pinene
  • β-Pinene
  • Terpinolene