For many people the word “terpene” is a strange and unfamiliar term, but it won’t be for much longer. As science and technology carry us to better understandings of cannabis, we’re beginning to see that there’s a lot more to marijuana than its cannabinoid content. To get a hint of the other therapeutic compounds in your strain, just give it a sniff.
Terpenes are fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity. They’re what give Blueberry its signature berry smell, Sour Diesel its funky fuel flavor, and Lavender its sweet floral aroma. These oils are secreted in the flower’s sticky resin glands, the same ones that produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Terpenes are by no means unique to cannabis; they can be found in many other herbs, fruits, and plants as well.
Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and give rise to various effects. The above infographic outlines properties of six common cannabis terpenes along with a few strains that tend to express notable levels of each.
When choosing a strain based on its terpene content, keep in mind that different harvests may demonstrate dramatically different terpenoid profiles due to variances in growing and curing techniques. Lab-tested products are the only surefire way of knowing a strain’s terpene potency – without it, you’ll have to rely on your nose to guide you.
Lastly, when choosing your method of ingestion, keep in mind that the beneficial qualities of terpenes can be seriously damaged if heated past their boiling point. It is best to try a ‘low-heat’ device such as a Dr. Dabber Ghost Vaporizer pen or an adjustable eNail to extract the full benefit and flavor of your terpenes.
THE BASICS OF CBD & TERPENES
CBD comes from the cannabis plant. While most people attribute terpenes to a particular smell or flavor terpenes provide to cannabis plants in general, they do much more than meet the eye.
Terpenes are very similar to essential oils. Suppose you’re familiar with the calming effects of lavender or the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil. In this case, you already have a basic understanding of how terpenes work.
In fact, essential oils are found in terpenes, and they perform a valuable role in the synergistic function of the entourage effect.
If you’re not familiar with the entourage process, let’s touch one it real quick.
When the entourage effect takes place, all of the compounds in the hemp plant—CBD, Terpenes, trace amounts of THC, along with any other cannabinoids—work together to provide the consumer with the therapeutic benefits they seek.
But the role of terpenes goes deeper than lending a helping hand in this “entourage effect.” They also enhance and enable the cannabinoids to absorb into the bloodstream more effectively.
TERPENES GOING TO WORK
When you ingest CBD, the terpenes help the CBD properly absorb into the bloodstream as they bind to receptors in the brain.
After binding, the endocannabinoid system begins sending signals to other receptors throughout the body.
This is when the synergistic effects begin to take place, and the terpenes start to exhibit their unique effects. Researchers have spent valuable time looking into terpenes and how they encourage the release of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and GABA.
It’s the release of these neurotransmitters that help boost those unique effects.
AN UP-CLOSE LOOK AT INDIVIDUAL TERPENES
Although there are over 200 different terpenes out there in the world, not many of them have been singled out to study and gain a full understanding of how they produce specific effects.
But linalool and limonene are the exceptions. These are two of the most popular terpenes, and they’re well-regarded for producing a host of therapeutic benefits.
Linalool is most known for producing the relaxing aromatic scent in lavender—also found in cinnamon, mint, and coriander.
It’s known to embody sedative properties, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Linalool has intricate inner workings that allow it to connect with a number of receptors in the body that influence the body’s response to pain and inflammation.
Overall, the chemical composition of linalool has a profound effect on pain and anxiety. Sometimes making all the difference for those in need.
Alternatively, limonene has uplifting, anti-depressant effects. It directly affects different brain regions that produce some of the neurotransmitters we referenced earlier, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
So you see, linalool has calming effects and limonene has mood-elevating effects, but what about the other 198 terpenes?
Let’s take a look at a few more.
The most abundant terpene found in cannabis plants is myrcene, making up 65% of the terpene profile where it is found. It has sedative, relaxing, and inflammation-reducing properties.
Caryophyllene is a terpene found in black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves–giving them all their “spice.” This terpene works exceptionally well in topical CBD applications because it binds to the CB2 receptors. This provides this terpene with amazing analgesic and anti-anxiety properties.
WHICH CBD PRODUCTS HAVE TERPENES?
Terpenes are an innate part of the hemp plant. During the farming process, the crops ultimately turn into full-spectrum oil—containing a blend of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils.
A good number of companies make sure to incorporate helpful blends of specialized terpenes to further enhance a specific product’s effectiveness.
Most reputable companies will elaborate on the specifics of the terpene blend included in the product, referencing whether it’s a calming blend, focus-enhancing blend, etc.
If you’re unsure of a product’s terpene profile, reach out to the company’s customer service department, and they should be able to describe the terpene profile.
MOVING FORWARD WITH TERPENES
Finding the perfect blend of terpenes enhances your CBD experience for several reasons.
When you have the right blend of terpenes and high-quality CBD, you see why CBD has blown up and has made its way into mainstream conversations worldwide.
Next time you’re shopping for CBD, go into the process with a general idea of the effects you’re looking for. This is the first step in creating an individualized experience.
When you know about terpenes, you’ll recognize them when you see them.
The next time you walk in the forest and smell fresh pine needles, you’ll know it’s terpenes.