Terpenes: a closer look


Terpenes are a vast expanse of compounds whose true potential is just now being explored. Research is just starting to show that beyond the aromatic properties of terpenes, there are uses for them in medical, cosmetic, and therapeutic applications as well.

For the final part of our series, we will look at 5 terpenes with unique applications and potential for medicinal use: Alpha-bisabolol, Terpineol, Delta 3 Carene, Trans-nerolidol, and Camphene.

Let’s take a closer look and uncover some unique aspects of these terpenes you may not have known about:


The terpene Terpineol is commonly found in lilacs, and can also be found in lime blossoms and eucalyptus sap. In some studies, terpineol was found to reduce motility in test mice - this may be a contributing factor to the increasingly relaxing and sedative effects it has. Terpineol may also have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic qualities that are still being studied.


Trans-nerolidol is a secondary terpene found in flowers like jasmine, lemongrass,

and tea tree oil. The smell is close to a mixture of rose, citrus, and apples, and is sometimes described as woodsy, citrus and floral. Trans-nerolidol is best known for its antiparasitic, antioxidant, antifungal, anticancer and antimicrobial properties.


Alpha-bisabolol is well known for a pleasant, floral aroma with very mild earthy undertones. Relaxation and calm are some surface-level benefits of this terpene, but research shows potential for a number of applications. Alpha-bisabolol has been used for studies on diabetes, sleep, stress, anti-inflammatory cremes, and even as an immune system supplement.

Delta 3 Carene

Delta 3 Carene, also referred to as Carene, is commonly found in higher concentrations in plants like the Cedar tree. Its aromatic notes are sweet like fir needles and musky with a damp earth smell. Carene is being studied for its ability to improve memory retention, especially in those with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, or the early phases of dementia.


The best way to describe the smell of camphene is fir needles, musky earth, and damp woodlands. It is sometimes mixed with vitamin C and used as an antioxidant. Camphene is widely used in conventional medicine as a topical treatment for skin issues like eczema and psoriasis, but it has been found to have the ability to lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

This is the end of our three-part list, but there are thousands of terpenes still waiting to be explored. This three-part series has been a short list of some of the more well-known terpenes; scientists are still looking at the ways this powerhouse molecule can have a positive impact on the plants we grow, and ourselves.