Can You Be Allergic to Terpenes?

Can You Be Allergic to Terpenes?

Terpenes: if you're a fan of aromatic plants or have dabbled in the world of cannabis, you've likely come across this term. But what exactly are terpenes, and is it possible to have an allergic reaction to them? Let’s dive into the aromatic world of terpenes and see how they might impact our health.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds found in various plants and some animals. Think of the last time you inhaled the calming scent of lavender or the invigorating aroma of rosemary. What you're enjoying is the presence of terpenes. These compounds are responsible for the unique smells of many plants, from flowers to fruits and even cannabis.

Manufacturers often extract and use terpenes to imbue products with specific scents. Everything from perfumes to lotions and even certain foods might contain these aromatic compounds.


Terpenes and Cannabis: A Fragrant Relationship

Cannabis is a particularly rich source of terpenes. These compounds give different cannabis strains their distinct aromas — from earthy and herbal to citrusy or even cheesy. Beyond their olfactory delights, some believe terpenes might affect how the body interacts with cannabinoids, the primary active compounds in cannabis. This synergy, often called the "entourage effect," suggests that terpenes could modify or enhance the effects of THC and CBD, the primary cannabinoids.

However, it's crucial to clarify the distinction between terpenes and cannabinoids. While both are present in the cannabis plant, they serve different roles. Cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, are primarily known for their psychoactive and therapeutic properties. Terpenes, on the other hand, play a more aromatic role, but they might also influence the overall cannabis experience.

To learn more about terpenes found in cannabis, be sure to visit Kindling’s Terpene Guide!


Types of Terpenes

There are numerous terpenes, each with its unique scent and potential therapeutic properties:


Found in citrus rinds, it has potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

 As the name suggests,  It's also seen as a possible bronchodilator. When it interacts with THC it has an uplifting effect on mood. Check out a variety of limonene rich products.


Pinene is one of the most well-researched terpenes and one of the primary active compounds in cannabis. There are two types of pinene structures, alpha and beta.  Alpha-pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in nature and is part of the monoterpene family. Pinene can be found in pine needles, and it is responsible for the clean, uplifting aroma that can be experienced while wandering through a forest of fresh pine trees. A study published in 2013 concluded that Pinene reduced cancer tumour size and could be considered an anticancer agent. Click here to explore pinene products.


Myrcene is the most prevalent of the terpenes and can be responsible for up to 50% of the overall terpene content in a product or strain.  Myrcene is commonly found in lemongrass, mangoes, and basil. A 2002 research study supported the sedative effect of Myrcene and its effectiveness in treating anxiety, insomnia, and other sleep disorders. It is also a potent antioxidant and may have protective effects against oxidative damage.


The caryophyllene terpene is present in black pepper, oregano, basil and many other herbs and spices. It is found in many of the known cannabis strains.This terpene is also present in many hybrids that have been shown to provide relaxation and reduce anxiety.  Due to its aroma, it is easy to detect in a flower strain.


Terpinolene is commonly found in various plants including lilac, sage, juniper, and rosemary. Terpinolene produces a herbal or floral fragrance and as such is used in perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetic products. This terpene has been shown to have antioxidant, sedative, and anticancer properties. It may also have a relaxing effect on the mind and body when inhaled or ingested.


Predominantly found in lavender, linalool is credited for the plant's calming effects and might have anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties.


Present in herbs like cloves, this terpene could reduce pain from inflammation.


Found in hops and other plants like ginger, research suggests humulene might prevent allergic reactions and asthma.


Can You Be Allergic to Terpenes?

Now, the burning question: can these aromatic compounds trigger allergies? Many terpenes are bioactive, which means they can affect the body. In certain plants, terpenes have evolved to repel predators, which can sometimes result in a strong reaction when humans come in contact with them.

Some people might experience allergic reactions to specific terpenes found in essential oils or other natural products. Common symptoms can range from skin irritations, sneezing, or even asthma-like symptoms in more severe cases. For instance, the terpene humulene, which is seen as a potential preventive agent for allergic reactions and asthma, might paradoxically trigger allergies in some individuals.

However, documented cases of terpene allergies, especially from cannabis use, remain relatively rare. As with any natural compound, individual responses can vary. It's always wise to monitor your reactions when trying a new product or strain of cannabis.


Terpenes are an integral part of nature's aromatic toolkit. While they add depth and diversity to our sensory experiences, especially in the realm of cannabis, it's essential to remember that individual reactions can differ. If you suspect you have an allergy, it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional.


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