Terpenes 101: The Scent Molecules
- What are terpenes?
- The most important hemp terpenes
- Terpenes and the entourage effect
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are tiny, super-sensitive molecules produced by many plants. They’re very similar to essential oils; indeed, most essential oils on the market today are about 80% terpenes and 20% trace compounds.
Terpenes serve to protect plants from threats from insects or bacteria — an added plus is that they smell really good to us humans. Some of them do, at least.
What makes terpenes so fragrant? It’s actually a chemical thing: because terpenes are such small, oily molecules, they tend to evaporate really easily. Just a little heat or pressure, and they waft right into the air.
Another thing to know about terpenes: they’re found virtually everywhere. Terpenes are produced by plants, herbs, trees, fungi, and even select insects. Terpenes, in one sense, may even be one of the most important communication mediums of the natural world. One study called them “the most popular chemical medium on our planet.”
While terpenes themselves are far from rare, the hemp plant has something special going on. It contains hundreds of terpenes — in thousands of potential combinations — not found anywhere else.
And that’s not all. True to nature’s intelligence, terpenes have all sorts of health benefits. More on those next…
The most important hemp terpenes
It would take far too long to try to list hundreds of different cannabinoids here, so we’ll just look at the highlights instead. What follows are some of hemp’s most important terpenes:
Can you guess what pinene comes from?
If you guessed pine trees…then you’d be correct! Pinene is what gives its namesake tree that characteristic piney smell; pinene is also the reason why forest bathing is so relaxing.
In other good news, pinene is one of the most common terpenes in hemp. It confers energizing, cognition-boosting effects. Pinene may also be great for those with asthma.
Myrcene is a tropical terpene produced by everything from hops to mangoes. Hemp produces it, too!
If myrcene is good for anything, it’s good for pain relief. One study that looked at more than 2,000 patients discovered that myrcene was amazing for pain relief. Myrcene may also reduce inflammation, sleep problems, and muscle spasms.
You’re probably familiar with linalool, whether you realize it or not — it’s the most common terpene in Lavender.
And lavender, of course, has been used for ages to improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Even the mere act of inhaling a little lavender EO is relaxing.
The research agrees. One study found that linalool could reverse some neurological problems en route to benefitting those with Alzheimer’s disease patients. And while CBD often gets the credit for its namesake oils’ ability to reduce seizures, some research shows that linalool may help, too.
This earthy terpene is found throughout the world of herbs and spices; black pepper is an especially good source of it.
(BCP) is found in all sorts of stuff, including cinnamon and black pepper.
What does beta-caryophyllene do? Well, it’s antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory — and that’s just for starters. Beta-caryophyllene is one of the few compounds to be classified as both a terpene and a cannabinoid. When taken consistently, it actually does something similar to CBD.
According to one study, beta-caryophyllene’s “[potential] activation of the CB(2) receptor is a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of inflammation, pain, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis.”
Like pinene, limonene’s plant source is pretty predictable.
Can you guess it? Lemons, of course! And limes…and grapefruits. Limonene is pretty much found in all things citrus.
And if limonene is good for anything, it’s good for digestive health. On a related note, limonene may also elevate serotonin levels (this “happiness hormone” is primarily made in the gut). Some studies have even tied it to improved responses to cancer.
Guaiol is an earthy-scented terpene derived from something called the guaiacum plant. You may not have heard of it before, but guaiacum was renowned among soldiers during the Spanish inquisition for its virus-fighting properties. Much more recently, this 2007 study confirmed guaiol’s antiviral effects.
Humulene is a hoppy terpene that’s closely related to beta-caryophyllene. What does it do? Mostly reduce oxidative stress. That’s right: humulene is a potent antioxidant. At the same time, however, it can up the oxidation on cancer cells — so much that at least one study describes humulene as “anti-tumor.”
Humulene is also pretty anti-viral. It seems to reduce infections in both humans and plants alike!
Terpenes and the entourage effect
As impressive as all the above benefits may seem, here’s the thing: they don’t occur in isolation.
It’s true. When taken together (maybe in the form of a full spectrum product!), these terpenes actually synergize and make CBD even stronger.
Scientists call this CBD + terpene synergy the entourage effect, and studies have found that it makes full spectrum products up to 4 times more powerful than isolates. This heightened power also makes full spectrum CBD easier to dose than more one-dimensional CBD. “The therapeutic synergy observed with plant extracts results in the requirement for a lower amount of active components, with consequent reduced adverse effects,” study authors concluded.
In light of this entourage effect, we’ve been pretty intentional about the flavor + terpene combinations that make it into our products. Might the lavender-derived linalool present in our CBD salve heighten its overall effects? What about the orange-derived limonene in our 500 and 1000 mg CBD oils? There’s only one sure way to find out!
Wrapping Things Up…
If you’re ready to get your daily dose of terpenes, we’re here to help. We offer terpene-rich CBD products for both human wellness and animal health.
Ordering is convenient, too: we offer free local delivery within the U.S. Virgin Islands and free shipping to any part of the United States. Call (678) 404-9398 to place an order or visit us online.
That’s it for now, Take Care!
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