Imagine it is the first beautiful day after a week of rain and gloom. The warmth of the sun caresses your face and brings a smile. The smells of the outdoors tickle your senses; the flowers in bloom, fresh cut grass, the earthy scent of the soil, perhaps even the salty moisture of the ocean breeze.
What if we told you that there was a group of molecules that were responsible for the delightful aromas of the outdoors?
You may not be familiar with the word terpenes just yet, but what if we told you that the terpenes present in most species of plants are responsible for the pleasant aromas and tastes we experience on a daily basis?
The topic of terpenes can be very technical, but can be very insightful when you start to connect this unfamiliar term with very familiar, everyday experiences.
So Just What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are molecules abundantly found all over the plant kingdom. They are the primary driver behind the wonderful world of aromatherapy and essential oils, and dictate the aroma and flavor diversity found in most all species of plants. There are over 20,000 terpenes discovered to date. The hemp plant, where CBD is derived from, contains around 100 terpenes.
Plants have developed terpenes over the years as a survival mechanism. Certain terpenes act to attract potential pollinators, such as bees, to help spread pollen and reproduce. Other terpenes developed to repel insects and potential invaders who use the plants as a food source.
Why Terpenes Matter in CBD
Terpenes work hand in hand with cannabinoids, like CBD, to pass through the bloodstream more efficiently. This process is essentially what is referred to as the “Entourage Effect”. Terpenes each have their individual medicinal values and when taken in combination, can counteract, balance out, or intensify the effects of one another.
Certain terpenes, such as myrcene, is known to lower resistance across the blood to brain barrier, which can speed up the effectiveness of CBD. Since the discovery of the major cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, Several studies have shown that terpenes work together to help the cannabinoids pass through the bloodstream easier.
If the terpenes present support the same properties as CBD, such as anti-inflammation or anti-anxiety, then you will notice stronger effects.
With all the possibilities, research is ongoing as we seek the science behind not only how these terpenes function singularly, but how they work in combination with other terpenes and cannabinoids.
Terpene and Flavor
As we touched on earlier, terpenes provide more than just the aromas responsible for a pleasant waft of lavender or a centering musk of sandalwood. Terpenes are also a key driver behind many of the flavors our tastebuds experience when we enjoy a well spiced cuisine or sweet fruit.
Here are just a few flavor palettes of the terpenes that we find in the hemp plant:
Common Terpenes found in Cannabis
One of the most common terpenes in the world, Pinene has a flavor and aroma of (you guessed it) pine. It is commonly found in pine needles and even orange peels. You will also find Pinene in many conifer plants and herbs such as sage, parsley and basil.
Pinene has been known to assist with memory and alertness as well as increase airflow to your lungs.
Myrcene is the most commonly found terpene in the cannabis plant. It composes up to 50% of the total terpene profile in cannabis. You will also find Myrcene in citrus such as mango and lemongrass, as well as hops and thyme.
Myrcene can act as a mild sedative and muscle relaxer and is also anti-inflammatory.
With a pleasant citrus aroma Limonene is commonly found in cleaning products and perfumes. It is found in several citrus rinds and aromatic herbs such as juniper and mint. Limonene adds to the “Entourage Effect” by improving the absorption of other terpenes.
Limonene has been shown to lift your mood giving it an anti-depressant quality and is also anti-fungal.
Humulene is a terpene that contributes to the earthy aromas in plants such as hops, coriander, cloves, and basil. Interestingly it has the ability to suppress appetite.
Humulene has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Linalool is also a terpene, like limonene, that can help greatly with stress relief and mood enhancement. It can balance out feelings of anxiousness and calm the mind. Linalool has a very floral element and is found in rosewood, lavender and birch.
Linalool has powerful anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and overall mood enhancing benefits.
Terpenes in summary
Terpenes are the molecules that are produced by the plant kingdom that are the key drivers behind flavor and aroma. While there are several thousand terpenes, a few of the key terpenes have powerful effects that work with CBD in what we refer to as an “Entourage Effect”.
Knowing a few of the common terpenes can help you know what to look for when choosing a CBD supplement.