Terpenes 101

Terpenes 101: Botanical vs. Cannabis vs. Synthetic Terpenes

Marijuana leaves growing

Terpenes, the fragrant and flavorful compounds found in plants, have been captivating the senses of humans for centuries. These compounds have been used in everything from perfumes and candles to food and medicine. However, not all terpenes are created equal. Discover the pros and cons of synthetic and botanically derived terpenes.

The Dark Side of Synthetic Terpenes

Vape pen cartridge with rainbow lighting

Artificial terpenes, also known as synthetically derived terpenes, are compounds that are artificially created in a laboratory to mimic the chemical structure and properties of naturally occurring terpenes found in plants. These compounds are used in a variety of industries, including food and beverage, fragrance, and pharmaceuticals. 

They are often preferred in these industries due to their consistent nature, which allows for greater control over the final product. However, synthetic terpenes suffer from the inability to completely recreate a strain’s authentic flavor profile. Synthetic terpene formulas are always too concentrated, producing a strong, harsh, and artificial flavor.

Analytical testing labs only test cannabis samples for a certain percentage of terpenes, meaning they do not have a complete profile of a strain’s entire terpene composition.  Because of this, products made with synthetic terpenes are not as complex, flavor-wise, compared to botanically-derived terpenes. Essentially, synthetic terpenes are not the same terpenes as ones derived from plants.

Botanical Terpenes: The Purest Essence of Nature

Bunch of cut up fruit

Botanically-derived terpenes are compounds that are extracted directly from plants and other natural sources. These compounds are commonly found in essential oils and are used in a variety of products, such as perfumes, aromatherapy products, and dietary supplements. 

They are a natural and renewable resource that can be found in a wide variety of plants, including conifers, fruits, herbs, and flowers. These terpenes can be used to create a wide range of different aromas and flavors, and have a wide range of potential health benefits.

Botanical terpenes are found in many plants, and each plant has its own unique terpene profile. Some examples of botanical terpenes include:

  • Limonene, found in citrus fruits, has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-viral properties.
  • Myrcene, found in hops and bay leaves, has sedative and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Pinene, found in pine trees, has anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, and memory-enhancing properties.

They are often preferred by consumers who are looking for more natural-tasting products. The natural fragrances of botanically derived terpenes can take you on a journey to a lush forest, a blooming meadow, or a fresh citrus orchard.

As a customer, it is important to know whether you are buying botanical or synthetic terpenes. There is a major difference in flavor, aroma, and effects when it comes to synthetic and natural terpenes. Choosing terpenes derived from plants is always the best choice for the consumer.

How synthetic and natural terpenes interact with the human body is still being studied. More research is needed on the differences between botanical and synthetic terpenes to ensure consumers receive consistent, safe, and pure products.

Classes of Terpenes

Lemon molecule 3d rendering

Terpenes vary in structure, containing at least two isoprene units, which have 5 carbon atoms with double bonds. Terpenes are usually made up of  2, 3, 4, or 6 isoprene units. The three main classes of terpenes include monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes.


Monoterpenes, the simplest and most common class of terpenes, are made up of two isoprene units. These compounds are found in a wide variety of plants and foods, including mangoes, lemons, and tree bark.

Some examples of monoterpenes include limonene, which is found in lemon and other citrus fruits, and pinene, which is found in pine and other coniferous trees. Myrcene is the most common monoterpene found in cannabis.

Compared to other classes of terpenes, monoterpenes are the fastest to evaporate from the cannabis plants. They are the most sensitive to heat, requiring special consideration during the harvesting and extraction process.


Sesquiterpenes, slightly more complex than monoterpenes, are made up of three isoprene units. These compounds are found in a wide variety of plants, including cedarwood, sandalwood, and patchouli. 

Sesquiterpenes are not as prevalent as monoterpenes and have higher boiling points. Some examples of sesquiterpenes include caryophyllene, which is found in black pepper, and humulene, which is found in hops. 

Caryophyllene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and is commonly used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and well-being.


Diterpenes are made up of four isoprene units. These are the least abundant class of terpenes. Some examples of diterpenes include phytol, which is found in green tea, and kaurane, which is found in kava. Phytol is also a byproduct of the chlorophyll degradation process in plants, including cannabis.

Synthetic Terpenes Pros and Cons


  • Cost-effective: Synthetically derived terpenes can be more cost-effective than botanically derived terpenes, particularly for large-scale production.
  • Consistency: Synthetically derived terpenes can be manufactured to a consistent quality and potency, making them more reliable for use in products.
  • Availability: Synthetically derived terpenes can be created in a laboratory, which means they are not limited by the availability of certain plants or the time of year.


  • Artificial: Synthetically derived terpenes are artificial and do not retain the natural balance and ratios of compounds found in the plant, which can affect the authenticity of the final product. Also, they taste kinda weird.
  • Safety concerns: There may be safety concerns associated with the use of synthetically derived terpenes, particularly if they are not properly tested or regulated.
  • Quality control: Quality control can be a concern when using synthetically derived terpenes, as some manufacturers may use lower quality or questionable ingredients in their production process.
  • Strict regulations: Synthetically derived terpenes are subject to strict regulations regarding their production, use, and labeling, which can make it difficult and costly to comply with these regulations.

Botanically-Derived Terpenes Pros and Cons


  • Natural and safe: Botanically derived terpenes are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, making them safe for use in various products.
  • Wide range of properties and benefits: Botanically derived terpenes have a wide range of properties and benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.
  • Authentic and natural experience: Botanically derived terpenes retain the entire terpene profile found in the plant, providing a more authentic and natural experience.


  • Extraction process: The extraction process of botanically derived terpenes can be difficult and time-consuming, and requires specialized equipment and expertise.
  • Quality control: The quality of botanically derived terpenes can vary depending on the source and method of extraction.
  • Limited availability: Some types of botanically derived terpenes can be difficult to extract and may not be readily available in large quantities.

Cannabis-Derived Terpenes: The Gold Standard in Extraction

Fuzzy green plant

Cannabis-derived terpenes are terpenes that are extracted from the cannabis plant. They are considered to be superior to synthetically derived terpenes and botanically derived terpenes in several ways:

  • Authenticity: Cannabis-derived terps retain the original terpenes found in the cannabis plant, which can provide a more true-to-nature aroma and flavor than even botanically derived terpenes. Adding essential oils from non-cannabis sources is not ideal.
  • Unique properties: Cannabis-derived terpenes are unique to the cannabis plant and have a wide range of properties and benefits that are not found in other plants. This includes the entourage effect which is a phenomenon where the plant compounds work together to create a greater impact than each compound individually.
  • Variety: The cannabis plant has a wide variety of cannabis strains, each with its own unique terpene profile. This allows for a wide range of different aromas and flavors to be used in products.

Although more expensive and complex to extract from the cannabis plant compared to synthetic or botanical sources, cannabis-derived terpenes provide a superior experience in terms of flavor, aroma, and effects. Consumers can instantly recognize the difference between natural and artificial.

Cannabis extractors can use various techniques throughout the production phase to preserve terpene content, including fresh-freezing cannabis flower, extracting with butane and/or propane, and using color-remediation technology. 

Whether you’re working with industrial hemp or THC-rich plants, retaining the strain’s original terpenes should be high priority. An increasing number of educated consumers are already basing their purchases based on specific terpenes.

Unlock the Full Potential of Cannabis with Full-Spectrum Products

Full-spectrum products are gaining popularity in the market, as they are believed to provide a more complete and effective experience. Full-spectrum products contain all the compounds found in the plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids, and not just the isolate of one specific compound.

The concept of the "entourage effect" is often used to explain the benefits of full-spectrum products. This refers to the idea that all the compounds found in the plant work together to enhance the effects of each other. Therefore, consuming a full-spectrum product will provide a more comprehensive and effective experience than consuming a single compound isolate.

For example, in the case of cannabis-derived products, consuming a full-spectrum product will provide not only the benefits of CBD, but also the benefits of other cannabinoids, such as THC, CBG, and CBN, as well as the benefits of terpenes. This can lead to a more potent and effective experience, with the potential for greater medical benefits.

In addition, full-spectrum products retain the original terpene profile found in the plant, which can provide a more authentic aroma and flavor. This is especially important for cannabis-derived products as the terpenes and other compounds found in the plant play an important role in the effects of the plant, and should not be removed during the extraction process.

Experience the Purest Results with Media Bros’ Filter Media

As an extractor, you are aware of the importance of preserving certain compounds found in the plant during the extraction process. This is where Media Bros' filter media comes into play. 

Our filter media are specifically designed to help extractors retain the natural terpenes and other essential compounds found in the plant, ensuring that the final product is a high-quality, full-spectrum product.

With Media Bros filter media, you can be confident that you are providing your customers with the best possible product. Our filter media are made with the highest quality materials and are designed to meet the needs of the most demanding extractors. We also provide technical support and consultation to help extractors achieve optimal results.

Do not settle for less, choose Media Bros filter media to ensure that you are providing your customers with the highest quality, full-spectrum products. Contact us to get a free sample and see the Media Bros difference for yourself.

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