What are Terpenes?

What are Terpenes?

December 25, 2018

What are terpenes? The term terpenes refers to any of a large group of aromatic organic compounds responsible for the scent given off by plants. Learn more about terpenes and how they’re used in your favorite CBD products.

Have you ever walked through a field of flowers and felt relaxed or invigorated? That’s likely because of the terpenes you were exposed to. Fragrances given off by peppermint and lemongrass, for example, can be traced back to the terpenes limonene and myrcene. Linalool, a terpene found in lavender, tends to have a calming effect.

The Therapeutic Effects of Blending Terpenes

Because a terpene’s effect can be influenced by other compounds, a growing number of companies in the cannabis and hemp spaces are mixing and matching different terpenes to appeal to the interests and tastes of a growing range of customers.

“We’re seeing a lot of our patients, or our clients, are demanding to be able to see terpene expression data for the flower that they purchase,” Philippe Henry, director of R&D genetics and analytics at Flowr, a Canadian cannabis producer, told Mashable. “It’s part of educating people that they can make better choices.”

What terpenes are out there? Researchers have identified more than 200 types of terpenes and terpenoids so far. Of these, more than a dozen of the terpenes that also naturally occur in cannabis have been found to have particularly therapeutic side effects.

How do terpenes affect the human body and mind?

Dr.Tristan Watkins, chief science officer at Lucid Mood, a company that manipulates terpenes for desired effects, went in depth about how terpenes affect the bodies and minds of mammals in a recent Westword interview.

“When cannabinoids and terpenes are consumed together, they can produce heightened and unique effects that would not occur if each compound were consumed independently, he said. “This interaction is called the entourage effect, and it’s one of the most unique aspects of the cannabis plant.”

Watkins and other scientists have found that its often a cannabis or CBD product’s terpene profile that add nuance to the experienced effects of different products.

“If you’ve ever wondered why one cannabis product makes you feel drowsy while another makes you a social butterfly, the answer likely involves terpenes,” said Dr. Watkins, “That’s because terpenes act in systems outside of the endocannabinoid system, effectively modifying your cannabis experience.”

One example, is alpha-pinene, which acts on acetylcholine receptors in the brain. These receptors are important to memory and cognition and its addition to a cannabis product may leave you feeling more engaged with a task or more enamored of a particular artist said Watkins.

Are terpenes only in cannabis?

Terpenes can be found in nature all around us.

From the food we eat to the flowers and herbs we grow in our gardens, we are constantly exposed to different terpenes. Terpenes are also a primary reason that items like lotions and candles are infused with your favorite aromas said Watkins.

Ways to experience terpenes in your daily life include:

  • Experience the relaxing effect myrcene by eating a mango
  • Crack open an IPA for the smell of humulene
  • Get invigorated by limonene with an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit.

“It’s next to impossible to avoid terpenes, even if we don’t notice them in our busy schedules,” said Watkins, “Next time you have a moment to stop and smell the roses, consider that you are really stopping to smell a beautiful bouquet of terpenes.”

From ingesting terpenes to smelling them, you experience the effects of terpenes on a daily basis, whether you’ve been aware of it or not. Of the hundreds of terpenes that have been identified, only a small number have been properly studied. Find out what we know about terpenes so far with myCBD.org.

Terpenes in Your Daily Life

In nature, terpenes are oils excreted by plants in nature that protect flowers from predators while also providing an array of antibacterial, antifungal, and anxiolytic benefits. Terpene are extracted from plants and are used in a number of industries including the production of essential oils, the food industry, health and beauty products, the fragrance and aromatherapy industries, as well as alternative and conventional medicine.

But what about terpenes in cannabis?

Terpenes, along with the flavonoids and fatty acids that also naturally occur in the cannabis plant, have been found to enhance the benefits of cannabis and hemp products. Some of the most commons terpenes occurring naturally in cannabis include:

  • Myrcene: Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. Characterized by an earthy and musky smell, myrcene is useful in reducing inflammation and chronic pain. Myrcene is often recommended as a supplement during cancer treatments.
  • Alpha Bisabolol: Also known as bisabolol, this pleasant and floral terpene also occurs naturally in chamomile flowers. Traditionally used by the cosmetics industry, alpha-bisabolol has prove to be a power antioxidant and anti-irritative with analgesic properties.
  • Caryophyllene: Also found in cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves, caryophyllene is known for its spicy and peppery aroma. This terpene also binds to our CBD2 receptors, making it a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient in creams and topicals. Some studies have also found that caryophyllene’s properties show promise in treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Limonene: Limonene is the second most abundant terpene in cannabis and it is know to improve mood, reduce stress, and increase energy. Researchers have also found that limonene is what lends citrus fruits their powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Find the Right Terpene and Cannabinoid Blend with myCBD.org

Curious about trying a terpene or CBD vape oil pen? Find out which terpene and cannabinoid blends are right for you by subscribing for updates on the science of CBD products with myCBD.org.

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