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Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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What are Terpenes?

Lipids are a complex compound of fatty acids. It can be of two types: simple Lipid or complex Lipid. Terpenes are one of the Classifications of Lipids. In this article, we have covered Lipids in detail. What are terpenoids? The Terpenes meaning is the Lipid compound that contains isoprenoid units or rings. The isoprenoid ring is the five-carbon ring. Its formula is C5H8. The word Terpene originally was called turpentine. The monomer of Terpene is isoprene unit. 


Classification of Terpenoids

Terpenoids can be classified into three types.

  1. Steroid

  2. Carotenoid

  3. terpenes



These compounds are the type of terpenoids. This type of terpenoids contain three six-membered carbon rings and the fourth ring contain five carbon atoms. All these rings are fused to form a total of seventeen carbon atoms which are known as steroid molecules. So, we can say that steroids are the seventeen carbon atoms terpenoids molecules. Examples of steroids are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cholesterol.



Carotenoid is a type of terpenoids. These molecules contain a long chain of fatty acid that have a double bond and contain a six-member carbon ring at each end. These compounds are found in pigmented parts of the plants like carotenoids and xanthophyll. These compounds provide yellow, red, and orange colour to the plant parts. This molecule does not help in photosynthesis. 



These molecules are the type of terpenoids. The terpenoids which consist only of isoprenoid units are called terpenes. Small molecules of terpenoids are volatile in nature and give a pleasant odour. Therefore, these are used in making perfumes. 


Classification of Terpenes

The classification of terpenes is based on the isoprene units.



Number of Isoprenes Units

Number of a Carbon Atom























What is Terpene Oil? 

Terpene oil is the natural compound present in the flower or the buds of the cannabis plant. It can be extracted from cannabis by the vapourisation or steam distillation process. In this process, terpenes turn into vapour and get converted into tetrahydrocannabinol. Then it boils at a temperature of around 157 degrees celsius. The practical yield of this process is very low. 


Terpenes can be extracted from the plant by the other process like:

  • Carbon dioxide Extraction

  • Hexane Extraction


What are Advanced Terpenes?

Advanced terpenes are the modified form of terpenes. These molecules are synthesised by combining the different types of hydrocarbons so that they can be used in different processes. 


Terpene Structure 

The terpene structure can contain one or more isoprene units. In the terpene structure, the unsaturation and functional groups can vary depending on the nature of the compound. Terpenes can be classified on the basis of isoprene units they contain.

  1. Monoterpene- These molecules contain two isoprene units.

  2. Sesquiterpenes- These molecules contain three isoprene units.

  3. Diterpenes- These molecules contain four isoprene units.

  4. Triterpenes- These molecules contain six isoprene units.


Terpenes found in Cannabis Include: 

  • Linalool

  • Terpinolene

  • Camphene

  • Terpineol

  • Phellandrene

  • Carene

  • Humulene

  • Pulegone

  • Sabinene

  • Geraniol


Examples of Terpenes are given below:

  • Monoterpenes- Pinene, nerol, cetrol, camphor, menthol, and limonene.

  • Sesquiterpenes- Nerolidol and farnesol

  • Diterpenes- Phytol and vitamin A1


Effects of Terpenes on Human

  • The response of the terpenes is dependent on the dose of the terpenes.

  • Due to the vibrant aromantic smell of the terpenes, it is used in the various aromatherapies.

  • It can enhance the effect of CBD and THC in the human body.

  • Terpenes can be used as an antibiotic drug.

  • It possesses anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Terpenes can be used as antioxidant, antinociceptive, antimutagenic, and antiseptic agents.

  • Cannabinoids and terpenes work in a synergistic manner.

  • It is used in making anticancer drugs.

  • It is used in treating anxiety and depression in humans.


Uses of Terpene

Terpene can be used for various purposes:

  • Terpenes are used in aromatherapy.

  • Terpene oil is used in cooking for adding flavours to the food.

  • Terpene oil is used in vaping devices.

  • Terpenes have a soothing property. Therefore, it is used in topical application.


Some Important Terpenes

Chemical Name


Alpha Pinene

C10 H16

Beta Pinene

C10 H16

Delta Limonene

C10 H16

Beta Myrcene

C10 H16


C10 H16


C10 H18 O

Alpha Terpineol

C10 H16 O

Alpha Humulene

C15 H24

Alpha Caryophyllene

C15 H24


Did You Know?

  • The process of terpene extraction has a very interesting thing in it, steam produced during the process does not affect the concentration of terpenes.

  • Beta-caryophyllene terpene has a spicy-sweet aroma that resembles cannabinoids.

FAQs on Terpenes

1. Write the Terpenoids definition.

Terpenoids are the class of organic compounds that contains steroids, xanthophyll, and terpenes.

2. Is Terpenes definition and Terpenoids definition are the same?

No, the definition of terpenes and terpenoids are different. Terpenes are the simple hydrocarbon molecule drive from the five-carbon isoprene structure. while terpenoids are the modified form of terpenes. Terpenoids carry different types of functional groups and modified methyl groups at various positions.

3. What are the effects of Terpene on the human body?

Terpene has been used since ancient times for various medical purposes. Due to its aromatic properties, it is a popular product of aromatherapy. Other than that it is also a good antibiotic. It is very beneficial for the skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties and as an antioxidant. Care must always be taken for the amount of dose to be used. It is also a constituent of cannabis chemicals and is known for treating anxiety and depression. Sometimes it is also used as an anticancer drug

4. How is Terpene synthesised in industries?

The Terpene available from natural sources is very low in amount and also difficult to obtain. So in the 19th-century scientists discovered chemical processes to convert various substances into Terpene. It is primarily produced out of petrochemicals. Terpenoids can be readily isolated from paper and tall oil. Rose oxide, menthol,  citronella oil and camphor are major products of such types of industries and manufacturing units. 

5. What are the physical properties of Terpene or how to identify it?

The Terpene available in nature is colourless and transparent. But often it has been observed that it contains some impure substances which impart a yellow colour to it. The boiling point of the Terpene is its other physical quality to identify it. The boiling point depends on the carbon chain length. It is also very light and less viscous than vegetable oils. it is slightly volatile. and slightly more soluble in water than in Nonpolar Solvents. a particular type of aroma is associated with every kind of Terpene.

6. Can we use Terpene oil for cooking? Is it edible?

Terpene is available in nature. It is extracted from various sources of plants and flowers and has been used as flavouring substances from ancient times. but it is never a good idea to use it as an oil base for frying or cooking. This is also used in the latest popular vaping devices. Terpene is definitely an edible substance but proper identification and recognition of the type of Terpene oil must be done. However, industrially prepared Terpenes should never be consumed.

7. Which is the best method to learn more about Terpene and other Hydrocarbons?

Students are introduced to the world of Organic Chemistry in their high schools. They get to know about various constituents of organic substances which are basically simple and long-chain Hydrocarbons. They are taught to identify and name such substances. But the more complex Hydrocarbons are mentioned in the Organic Chemistry Chapters of Class 11 and 12 of the CBSE board. So Students must refer to these books for a detailed study on Hydrocarbons. It is also available on the Vedantu website in downloadable PDF files.