As cannabidiol (CBD) has become more popular and widely utilized, there’s another cannabis compound that is garnering attention: terpenes. So, what exactly are terpenes and how can they be used? Read on to find out.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a diverse range of organic compounds produced in the resin glands of a variety of plants such as conifers, cannabis, lavender, and citrus. Terpenes can even be found in certain insects!
These compounds are what give plants their varying odors, and their primary purpose is to serve as a plant’s natural defense mechanism against predators, such as pets and bacteria. Certain terpenes can also lure pollinators.
How are Terpenes Different from Cannabinoids?
Some cannabinoids occur naturally in the body, while others are found in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind to receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, a complex system that is responsible for helping to maintain your body’s natural processes, such as sleep, hunger, and mood. Cannabinoids occur naturally in the body or can be introduced to the body through phytocannabinoids, plant-based cannabinoids.
The two most well-known cannabinoids found in cannabis include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive and is the compound responsible for making you feel high when you ingest marijuana.
Conversely, CBD is non-psychoactive, will not get you high, and is highly unlikely to cause you to fail a THC-drug test. Federally legal THC-free broad-spectrum or isolate CBD will not cause anyone to fail a drug test. The research is varied on ingesting or inhaling full-spectrum.
*CBDMEDIC™’s topical products use broad-spectrum CBD-rich hemp extract from the Cannabis sativa L., which will not cause anyone to fail a THC drug test.
Terpenes, on the other hand, are compounds in plants (including cannabis) that give them their various odors. They can be extracted from plants and are used primarily for making essential oils for aromatherapy, body and beauty products, and are even included in some food products.
This could be why the ancient Egyptians used terpenes to create perfumes and oils for religious ceremonies, and aromatherapy has been used for millennia in China.
Cannabis Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
There are around 200 terpenes found in the cannabis plant, but only a handful are abundant enough to emit odors. These same terpenes can also be found in other plants. Some of the noteworthy terpenes in cannabis include:
- Linalool. The same terpene found in lavender, has a sweet, floral scent.
- Limonene. Limonene can also be found in lemon rind, orange rind, and juniper.
- Myrcene. Also found in lemongrass and hops and contributes to the scent of beer.
- Alpha and beta-pinene. Both are also found in pine needles and have an earthy, woody aroma.
The entourage effect is the idea that compounds in the cannabis plant complement one another in synergy when ingested, similar to the idea of companion planting (link) in permaculture. If you’re not familiar with companion planting, in brief, it is the practice of planting specific plants close together so they can mutually support each other’s growth and defense. Some people even partner hemp plants with aromatic plants and jagged-edged look-alikes to shield the highly valuable crop. Similarly, terpenes work together to support each other’s natural benefits from growth to protection.
Benefits of Terpenes
So, how do terpenes benefit us? They are a natural and chemical-free way to add scent (and flavor) to food, skincare and beauty products, and are also the base of essential oils for aromatherapy.
In the same way that terpenes act a natural defense mechanism for plants, terpenes in essential oils are also thought to offer support to humans for both physical and mental health.
It is said that users of aromatherapy often feel that they experience better sleep, reduced stress, feel less anxious, feel less depressed, and feel a better sense of well-being and balance.
Additionally, naturally-derived, topical pain relief products utilize terpenes, such as camphor and menthol, as active ingredients for their counterirritant properties because they are a more natural alternative to conventional pain relievers without reliance on synthetic ingredients and potentially harmful chemicals.
Just like it sounds, counterirritants temporarily distract the brain from the muscle or joint pain you are experiencing and replace it with the cooling, tingling sensation these terpenes provide.
Now that truly shows the power of plants.
CBDMEDIC utilizes synergy blends in both our topical pain relievers and skincare products to create soothing formulas for the skin and body. We combine our active ingredients with additional terpenes found in eucalyptus, clove, tea tree, frankincense, and other essential oils with CBD hemp oil or extract to enhance the cooling effects of the active ingredients—or support their pleasant aromas.
The Power of Plants
Now that you have a better understanding of the world of terpenes, you’re ready to experience all the benefits that these plant-based compounds have to offer. Whether it be for aromatherapy or their counterirritant properties, terpenes are naturally-derived substances that can support the body both physically and mentally.
The cannabis industry tout terpenes for the taste and aroma varieties they offer. But cannabis isn’t the only place terpenes can be utilized. Topical pain relief creams and ointments use camphor and menthol terpenes because they not only invite a wintery fresh cooling feeling and scent, they also offer pain relief as counterirritants that distract the brain’s pain signals at the source of discomfort.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate any diseases or conditions. We use CBD in our products for cosmetic purposes only.