What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in a variety of plants like herbs, flowers, and trees. A few terpenes are even found in some animals.
Terpenes exist in many different plants, but they’re found in particularly high concentrations in the cannabis plant.
That’s why terpenes are most frequently associated with cannabis. There are over 100 different terpenes found in the cannabis plant alone!
Terpenes provide the distinctive scents of many strong-smelling plants. The types and combinations of terpenes present shape the smells, flavors, and maybe even the varying effects of different cannabis strains.
What Do Terpenes Do?
Terpenes have a few different roles in plants:
Warding off predators
Aiding a plant’s metabolism
Helping recover from damage.
Scientists think that because terpenes play such an important role in plant functioning, they may also have immune boosting powers when used by people. As consumer interest in CBD increases, so does the demand for more research into the potential health benefits terpenes have to offer.
Common Terpenes & Their Effects
Scientists have discovered thousands of terpenes in the world. And they all have a range of scents, from fresh to spicy. They also seem to produce different effects, from calming to energizing.
With over 100 terpenes found in cannabis alone, we wouldn’t be able to list them all. But there are a few that love to hang out in hemp.
Here are some of the most common terpenes you may find in your CBD.
Myrcene is one of the most prevalent terpenes found in hemp. It’s also found in hops and has an earthy clove-like smell.
Plants containing myrcene have historically been used in folk medicines as sleep aids and muscle relaxants. What does science say? Research suggests that myrcene may indeed have sedative and muscle relaxing effects.
Limonene is a terpene typically associated with those citrusy-fresh smells. Along with cannabis, it’s found in citrus rinds, mint, and juniper.
Fun fact: Limonene is often added to foods, candles, and cleaning products to provide a bright lemony scent!
Researchers have found that limonene may aid in reducing stress and elevating mood. It might also have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral properties.
Pinene is another terpene that frequently shows up in CBD. Like its name suggests, pinene is also found in conifers and it contributes to that sharp and fresh scent of pine needles and rosemary.
Researchers think that pinene may provide anti-inflammatory benefits and act as a bronchodilator — meaning it can relax and open up the airways in your lungs.
Found in over 200 plants, linalool is known for having a rich floral scent. In CBD high in linalool, your nose might catch hints of lavender.
Researchers have found that linanool may have pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal qualities. A few animal studies have also found some evidence that linalool may have antidepressant effects.
Caryophyllene is characterized by a warm and spicy aroma, so it makes sense that it’s also found in black pepper.
Within the body’s endocannabinoid system, caryophyllene seems to activate the CB2 receptors, which are found in immune tissues. CB2 receptors play a role in immune and inflammation regulation. And researchers have found some evidence that caryophyllene may help reduce inflammation and pain.
If you drink beer, you’ve probably already met humulene. It’s found in high concentrations within hops — so it’s no surprise that humulene tends to have a hoppy, earthy aroma.
There’s some research to suggest humulene has anti-inflammatory properties. (You may be noticing a common theme here….)
Terpenes & Cannabinoids: What’s The Difference?
Terpenes and cannabinoids are both chemical compounds found in broad-spectrum CBD. Like cannabinoids, terpenes engage with receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system. But terpenes are more associated with the aromatic and flavor profiles of CBD, whereas cannabinoids have more research backing their possible health benefits.
While cannabinoids are a big contributor to the health benefits of CBD, research suggests that terpenes play an important part, too. Researchers think that the therapeutic potential of terpenes lies in the synergistic combo of cannabinoids and terpenes together.
In a process known as the entourage effect, all the chemical compounds in CBD — including terpenes — work together to enhance the effectiveness of each other.
So, terpenes don’t just determine the smells of different cannabis strains, they each have different effects and potential benefits. For example, as mentioned earlier, myrcene is thought to aid sleep and relaxation, while limonene may have more mood boosting properties.
Do Terpenes Get You High?
Simply put — no. Because they are not psychoactive, terpenes won’t get you high.
That being said, terpenes may work with the other compounds — like cannabinoids — found in your CBD to enhance the possible effects of those cannabinoids.
But by themselves, terpenes can’t get you high.
Terpenes All Around
Terpenes are super common compounds found in a wide range of plants like lemons, pine trees, lavender, and cannabis. There are thousands of terpenes present in the natural world! In plants, they’re big defense players, but they also help to attract pollinators.
Terpenes shape the flavors and scents of the cannabis plant. This is why one strain may be more earthy, while another has strong floral notes.
The research on terpenes — especially on how they interact with the cannabinoid compounds in CBD — is new but growing. Scientists believe that terpenes have their own health benefits, and those benefits are even enhanced when combined with cannabinoids. This is the entourage effect you hear about with CBD.
If you’re looking for CBD that keeps all those terpenes intact, consider full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD.