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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 lipid. 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.

Structure of Steroid

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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. 

Structure of Carotenoid

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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 

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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.

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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 (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question: Write the Terpenoids definition.

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

Question: Is Terpenes definition and Terpenoids definition are the same?

Answer: 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.