While we think CBD alone is wonderful, there’s another part of the hemp plant that’s often overlooked and underestimated. Terpenes are another important thing to consider when selecting a CBD product for you. While most products are made with CBD isolate, with only the CBD compound in it, there are plenty of reasons to consider something that includes terpenes too.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are chemical compounds found in plants - ranging from fruit, flowers and herbs - that give off a particular fragrance. Many of them will be familiar to you, even if you don’t know their technical name. Things like mint are rich in menthol, pine gets its distinctive camphorous aroma from pinene and lavender is packed with linalool. If you look on the back of botanical skincare products are the ingredients, you’ll often find at least one of these included.
How are terpenes different from cannabinoids?
Terpenes and cannabinoids share some similarities and have a few key differences, you’ll find high quantities of both in the hemp plant. Cannabinoids are the more active part of cannabis sativa, which interact directly with your cannabinoid system. Terpenes are what give certain strains of hemp different smells and flavours.
That’s why, if you have a CBD isolate product, it has no smell at all - terpenes are what fragrance a plant. CBD isolate is just that - the CBD cannabinoid isolated on its own, usually in a suspension of oil. While CBD is great in its pure form, there’s a lot to be said for having a more broad spectrum CBD product. By leaving in the plant’s natural terpenes, you get a more authentic experience when using things like vape liquids as well as unique flavour and fragrance.
Why do terpenes matter when it comes to CBD?
While terpenes are largely important for flavour and fragrance preferences, they can also work synergistically with cannabinoids like CBD. Terpenes can interact with the receptors in your endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB2 receptors in your immune system⁽¹⁾. When cannabinoids and terpenes work together, it’s referred to as the entourage effect.
Some terpenes are more stimulating than others while some are more calming and relaxing. Terpenes are also found in high concentrations in things like essential oils. Aside from being present in things like hemp oil, terpenes can be used in their most pure form from other plants to add to the benefits of things like CBD.
Where you’ll find terpenes:
Aside from finding all of these terpenes in the hemp plant, you’ll also find them in plenty of plants you’ve almost certainly heard of before. Each terpene has a slightly different fragrance and unique combinations of terpenes is what gives different plants similar aromas or notes. Some are more calming and sedative while others are more energising. The reason plants have terpenes typically comes down to one of two things - to attract pollinators or as a defence mechanism. Certain aromas will attract things like bees and birds that help pollinate them or will discourage insects, bacteria and mold. Terpenes alone have been extensively researched and aside from providing you with just a pleasant fragrance, they also have plenty of benefits for your body too.
Fragrance profile: Musky, green, herbaceous.
Found in: Mangoes, thyme, hops and bay leaves.
Effects: Calming, sedative, immune support and sleep aid.
Myrcene is often found in quite high concentrations in hemp, which is partly what gives it that “green,” crisp and herbal aroma. It’s a calming terpene that can aid in supporting your immune system⁽¹²⁾ as well as relaxing your muscles and aiding in better sleep⁽¹¹⁾. This is why things like hemp oil based CBD can maintain healthier sleeping patterns and help you drift off more easily.
Fragrance profile: Floral, woody, spicy.
Found in: Lavender, cinnamon, citrus fruits.
Effects: Analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-inflammatory.
Linalool is a common ingredient in a lot of skin care products like face creams owing to its anti-inflammatory properties⁽²⁾. This makes it a soothing and calming option for inflamed or aggravated skin. It’s also often found in things like muscle gels and balms due to its ability to help neutralise swelling and pain⁽³⁾. As terpenes can attach to the CB1 receptors spread throughout your nervous system, they can help your body synthesise cannabinoids more easily helping to reduce pain⁽¹²⁾.
Fragrance profile: Minty, piney.
Found in: Eucalyptus tree, cardamom, sage.
Effects: Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory.
Eucalyptus is an invigorating terpene with a sharp, minty and fresh fragrance. When applied topically it has a cooling effect, making it another popular ingredient in things like muscle gels and massage oils. It’s also naturally antimicrobial, meaning it can also act as a natural preservative in cosmetics. The fragrance deters insects, so you may also find it in things like mosquito repellants.
Fragrance profile: Woody, spicy, peppery.
Found in: Clove, nutmeg, cinnamon.
Effects: Antifungal and anaesthetic.
You might have heard of people using cinnamon oil to relieve toothache before, this is owed to its eugenol content which is both antifungal⁽⁶⁾ and a natural anaesthetic. As such, you’ll often find eugenol used in things like toothpastes and mouthwashes to help neutralise bacteria as well as soothe sensitivity⁽¹³⁾.
Fragrance profile: Floral, fresh, earthy.
Found in: Jasmine, ginger, lemongrass.
Effects: Antifungal, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), antibacterial.
Nerolidol is a wonderful terpene, like many others in this list it’s antifungal and antibacterial⁽⁶⁾⁽⁷⁾ but also anxiolytic - meaning it can help with the symptoms of anxiety⁽⁵⁾. If you use CBD with hemp oil, when nerolidol is present it can support the CBD cannabinoid in alleviating some day to day stress.
Fragrance profile: Sharp, fresh, citrus.
Found in: Citrus fruit peel, rosemary, juniper.
Effects: Inhibiting cancerous cell growth, muscle relaxant, sedative.
Limonene carries in a fresh, citrus and slightly fruity note. Despite its sharper fragrance it’s a useful terpene for active body’s due to its muscle relaxant and sedative properties⁽¹⁰⁾ meaning it can help with restless minds getting a better night’s sleep. Research has also discovered that limonene can inhibit tumor growth in rodents⁽⁴⁾, suggesting more significant therapeutic benefits too.
Fragrance profile: Pine, camphor, herbaceous, sharp.
Found in: Pine, dill, parsley.
Effects: bronchodilator⁽⁸⁾, antiviral effects⁽⁹⁾
Pinene is a balancing terpene and is often found in treatments for oily or acne prone skin. It’s pine and herbal notes make it a naturally invigorating fragrance. Research has also found it has antiviral effects, helping to neutralise the infectious bronchitis virus⁽⁹⁾.
What all of this means when you’re using CBD
While you’ll find terpenes throughout all your favourite fruits, veggies, and herbs, using products with both terpenes and CBD can be a more comprehensive way to experience the benefits. CBD isolate alone is wonderful, but products containing a spectrum of CBD and terpenes can be even better when they can work together. You can use things like hemp oil alone in your diet to add more terpenes without the CBD. Or, things like vape oils and broad spectrum tinctures can add even more to your lifestyle and aside from all of that, give you a more authentic hemp fragrance and flavour.
- Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans - sciencedirect.com
- Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl acetate constituents of essential oils - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Linalool produces antinociception in two experimental models of pain - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Chemoprevention and therapy of cancer by d-limonene - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Assessment of anxiolytic effect of nerolidol in mice - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Antifungal effect of eugenol and nerolidol against Microsporum gypseum in a guinea pig model - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Sensitization of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli to Antibiotics by the Sesquiterpenoids Nerolidol, Farnesol, Bisabolol, and Apritone - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Eucalyptus camaldulensis properties for use in the eradication of infections - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Comparative anti-infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) activity of (-)-pinene: effect on nucleocapsid (N) protein - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Enhancement and regulation effect of myrcene on antibody response in immunization with ovalbumin and Ag85B in mice - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Effectiveness of 0.2% chlorhexidine gel and a eugenol-based paste on postoperative alveolar osteitis in patients having third molars extracted: a randomised controlled clinical trial - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
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