As terpenes affect how CBD and other hemp derived compounds interact with the human body, it’s essential to know what they are and what they bring to the product. With my curious Gemini nature, I had to simply find out exactly what the big deal was; what are terpenes? Why are they important?
In simple terms, it is what gives plants their own special aroma or taste. Terpenes are basically aromatic compounds. These aromatic compounds create the characteristic scent of many plants, such as cannabis, pine and lavender. Terpenes have a crazy amount of benefits for the human body; but in nature, terpenes protect the plants from animals and bacteria/germs.
As regulations and “rules” surrounding cannabis become less strict, scientists are carrying out more research into these possible benefits. Believe it or not, there are over two hundred types of terpenes in the world, each with it’s own unique sets of benefits. Terpenes in CBD products are essential for the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect is a theory that states that more than one cannabis elements are present together boost one another’s effects. When the Entourage Effects takes places hemp compounds work in synergy to provide you with even more wellness benefits versus what each individual compound can achieve separately.
The role of terpenes goes even further than just helping out with the Entourage Effect. One of the main benefits of terpenes is that they help enhance or enable cannabinoid absorption in the bloodstream. Terpenes help your body (I swear I just heard the Backstreet Boys singing……’everybody…..help your booooooody’) and help the THC or other cannabinoids bind to those amazing receptors in the Endocannabinoid System even better than they already do. They can affect the production of those important neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.
Different terpenes can signal your brain to produce various chemicals. An example would be Lavender; it prompts your brain to release serotonin and dopamine which causes you to feel more relaxed. Certain smells can make you a violent physical reaction and I’m sure that’s unpleasant for all involved.
Since there are different cannabionid strains, you may have noticed that they taste different. Different strains have different terpene profiles. A plant’s profile can be influenced by climate, soil type, fertilizers and even age. While there are many, scientists have studied only a handful of them. Below are some of the most common cannabis terpenes. (note: they aren’t in the correct order)
This one is pretty common so I’m sure you’ve already guessed this gives lemons & oranges their citrus smell. Limonene, according to one study, seems to contain the following therapeutic properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-viral, anti-cancer.
This one has to be one of my favorites; reminds me of Christmas or that Yankee Candle “Balsam & Cedar.” Pinene has two forms; a-pinene and b-pinene. It provides a fresh bright scent. It helps open up airways and is also said to boost energy levels.
This terpene is responsible for lavender’s calming effects. Lavender is so common that even those that don’t use cannabis end up consuming over two grams of linalool each year through their food. Whether it was used early as a antibiotic is unknown, but linalool has been used in traditional medicine practices for it’s sedative and anti-epileptic properties. Personally it reminds me of when my mom would do clothes; she would wash them and dry them in lavender and I used to think that was the best smell in the world.
This type of cannabis terpene is found in plants such as hops, lemongrass and thyme. I couldn’t make the Thanksgiving turkey without thyme and beer could not be made without hops. Lemongrass is rich in myrcene and it’s responsible for the mango’s fruity tropical flavor. FUN FACT: Sativa strains commonly feature a smaller amount of this terpene while Indica strains feature more.
This unique compound acts like a terpene AND a cannabinoid. It also lends it’s sharp, peppery spicy aroma. Caryophyllen is a bigger molecules than other terpenes and contains a cyclobutane ring in its molecular structure. This is rare in nature and not found in any other known cannabis-derived terpenes. It’s molecular structure allows it to bind to Endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2). It is sometimes classified as an atypical cannabinoid.
The best part about these compounds is they provide our bodies with profound physiological benefits like reducing inflammation and anxiety. No doubt terpenes play a significant role in cannabis because of the immense potential and use these compounds will have in the direct future.