You may have heard the word before, but what are terpenes and how do they relate to CBD and hemp? In this article, we’ll discuss all things terpenes, CBD and more.
by James Han
Over the past decade, the Cannabis sativa plant — also known as the hemp plant — has seen a surge of interest in its vast profile of powerful bioactive compounds and the ways it interacts with the human endocannabinoid system. Though hemp has been used for thousands of years as both medicine and material alike, legal restrictions on its production and sale over the last century in the U.S. limited scientific research into some of the plant’s complex inner workings.
With recent laws lifting many previous chokeholds, scientists are just now catching up with the true potential of cannabidiol (CBD), the most widely sought out compound in hemp, as well as its many terpenes.
But what are hemp terpenes and why do they matter?
In this article we’ll discuss terpenes, the role they play in the body alongside CBD and how you can experience the benefits of terpenes for yourself.
What Are Terpenes?
All plants are made up of a wide array of chemicals and compounds, and terpenes are one such example. At a basic level, terpenes are simply aromatic compounds that are found in many (but not all) plants and some animals, and typically give such organisms their characteristic fragrances.
Think of rose petals, fresh orange peel or pretty much any fruit or herb that can be turned into an essential oil — terpenes give these plants their signature smells. They’re what manufacturers isolate in order to add flavor and scent to foods, shampoos, lotions and more. In that sense, they’re like an olfactory ID card. In nature, terpenes serve a crucial evolutionary purpose and help plants survive by attracting pollinators, repelling predators, facilitating healing and even bolstering the plant’s immune system. If they seem indispensable to a plant’s growth and survival, you’re right — according to an article in the journal Medicinal Plants, they’re “the largest and most diverse group of naturally occurring compounds” in the world.
Terpenes vs. Cannabinoids: What’s the Difference?
Terpenes and cannabinoids are both important compounds, but you may be wondering what the difference is between terpenes, CBD and other phytocompounds. In short, terpenes are compounds (hydrocarbons, specifically) that give many plants and some animals their distinct scent. Each strain of hemp has a unique set of terpenes.
Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are scentless compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the human endocannabinoid system, which regulates many of your body’s systems, including body temperature, hormones, mood, memory and more. Both terpenes and cannabinoids are found across many plant species, though Cannabis sativa contains the highest concentrations of cannabinoids.
Hemp Terpenes and What They Do
Terpenes and cannabinoids, while distinct compounds in hemp, work together synergistically in what is commonly known as the “entourage effect.” Essentially, they amplify each other’s effects, and different combinations of specific terpenes and cannabinoids will have a different impact on your body. When it comes to Cannabis sativa, researchers have identified over 100 different terpenes, and the best hemp oils typically have a robust medley of several terpenes that can help you find a deeper sense of relief.
Here are five of the most common terpenes and their benefits:
- Myrcene. The most common terpene in hemp, myrcene smells of cloves and may have anti-inflammatory properties as well as relaxing, sedative effects. Myrcene occurs naturally in lemongrass, thyme, basil and hops, among other plants.
- Limonene. Limonene has a wide range of benefits, including increased attention, focus and well-being. It’s a great mood elevator for when you’re feeling low and can help reduce stress, too. It’s a common scent among plants and is present in citrus fruit rinds, peppermint, rosemary, cardamom and pine needles.
- Pinene. Pinene is great for energy and concentration and is also sometimes used as an expectorant. Like its name suggests, pinene is associated with pine and fir trees.
- Ocimene. Ocimene, with its citrus and woody notes, plays a pest-repellent role in wild plants. In the human body, it shows promise as an anti-inflammatory agent. Ocimene is typically found in basil, bergamot and peppers.
- Linalool. For maximum calming effects, look for linalool, which has a floral smell reminiscent of lavender. Anything with linalool should help you to wind down after a long day or get a good night’s sleep.
How To Experience the Benefits of Terpenes
Though the hemp plant has its own terpenes and cannabinoids, the best way to attain elevated well-being is by pairing hemp’s set of bioactive compounds with the potent terpenes of other natural, healing botanicals. After all, the essential oils of many other plants contain their own beneficial terpene profiles that, alongside hemp terpenes and CBD, can offer a more effective and targeted experience.
The Root of It All’s collection of Ayurvedic essential oil tinctures is amplified with pure hemp extract to offer a spectrum of terpenes that can help you find more energy, slow down, sleep better, digest more efficiently and recover from soreness and muscle strain. Each tincture features a specific blend designed to help you find greater mind-body balance, naturally.
If you’re interested in learning more about terpenes, CBD, essential oils and other wellness insights, feel free to explore our blog.
James Han is a writer, editor and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, watching films and taking long walks.
Analytical Cannabis - The Difference Between Cannabinoids and Terpenes
MedicalNewsToday - What To Know About terpenes
Medicinal Plants - Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Terpenes
The Natural Farmer - Cannabinoids & Terpenes
Cannabis Business Times - Entourage Effect 2.0: The Entourage Effect Is Real, but Full-Spectrum Cannabis Is Not the AnswerMinistry of Hemp - Terpenes: Learn About Common Terpenes in Hemp & Cannabis