What Are Terpenes?
The underrated world of aromatic terpenes
Terpenes are essential oils found in plants that have been shown to carry a variety of health benefits, many serve as the basis of aromatherapy but did you know they enhance the effect of cannabinoids and provide health benefits all of their own.
Put simply terpenes are what you smell. The refreshing scents of lemon, pine trees, eucalyptus, and hemp plants all have something in common. Their smell is due to organic compounds called terpenes. Terpenes are a large class of aromatic chemicals found in a wide variety of plants, foods, and essentials oils.
The development of terpenes in plants starts with an adaptation, primarily to either lure pollinators or repel predators by repelling bacteria, fungi, and pests. Factors such as climate, weather, age and maturation, fertilizers, soil type, and even the time of day all affect the development of terpenes within a plant, meaning different crops have different terpene profiles.
There are over 100 terpenes identified in hemp plants, with the exact terpene profiles varying wildly. This is one reason why hemp manufacturers closely guard the exact ratios and origins of their CBD oil blends. At Revivo for example we spent a lot of time researching industrial hemp strains, going directly to the growers, in order to understand the horticultural science necessary to create a terpene-rich hemp resin which offers most natural benefits to the body.
In hemp, terpenes are located within the trichomes; tiny, mushroom-shaped crystals that cover the leaves and flowers. Over a hundred different terpenes exist, each one has a slightly different chemical structure, and as such provides an exclusive aroma.
Studies have found that terpenes may do more than just provide a pleasant aroma or deter predators. They have also been found to invoke a wide range of biological effects in humans, which is unsurprising because humans have been consuming plants for health benefits throughout human history. That's why we call CBD oil 'the natural choice for thousands of years. Read on to find out what terpenes are most common in CBD oil and how they can benefit your body.
How many terpenes are there, and what are they called?
Just take a look at your kitchen's spice cabinet and you will find everyday food items that also feature high concentrations of terpenes, such as black pepper, mangoes, or lemongrass.
Even though there are over a hundred different terpenes, some are more common than others. Well-known terpenes include the following:
Myrcene is the most prominent terpene found in the Cannabis sativa species, but it also features heavily in clover, sage, hops, and caraway.
Remember the refreshing scent of lemon we mentioned earlier—that's because of limonene. This terpene is used heavily in perfumes, cosmetics, and air fresheners.
Spicy and peppery, beta-caryophyllene is best known for its presence in black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon.
Found in black pepper piperine has long been used as an additive in the supplement industry to improve the bio-availability of supplements.
You'll instantly recognise the floral aroma of linalool. It's a pungent terpene most commonly found in lavender.
What makes terpenes special?
Terpenes are significant not only because of their smell, but because of their potential synergy with cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, and CBG in the human body.
Full spectrum CBD oil is a natural blend of three key ingredients. Cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Using C02 extraction it is possible to extract terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids from the hemp, creating a phytonutrient-rich resin which is mixed with a carrier oil such as cold pressed hemp seed oil to create a truly organic, reviving and natural whole-plant supplement.
There is evidence to suggest that when cannabinoids and terpenes exist together, their respective biological effects are enhanced. This phenomenon—known as the entourage effect—is what makes the molecules found within hemp unique.
However, even in isolation, studies have shown that terpenes may have biological impacts of their own.
What effects do terpenes have?
According to this review by the British Pharmacological Society, terpenes exhibit "unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis‐based medicinal extracts". They went on to add that interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes could lead to "synergy with respect to the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections".
We all come to CBD oil for the Cannabinoids but we must remember that full spectrum actually means and why there is more to CBD than just cannabinoids.
There is still much more to discover about the inner workings of terpenes. In future articles.