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It doesn’t matter if you are new to the industry and consider yourself a veteran, the CBD world is evolving quickly, which means things change pretty quickly and there is always something to learn. If you’ve been around the CBD world for some time, you’ve probably heard the term terpenes get tossed around at some point or another. There is a positive connotation with the word terpenes and industry speak seems to indicate that the existence of these so called terpenes are a good thing. But what exactly… are they?
Well, even if you have not heard of the term, you’ve definitely come across them before. Terpenes are actually found everywhere and more common than you might realize. Whether you’ve seen it listed as an ingredient on your CBD oil or in your day-to-day life on a beauty product, it is almost everywhere. In this article, we break down exactly what terpenes are, the types of terpenes, and the role it plays in Full Spectrum CBD.
Let’s start simple with what full spectrum CBD is. This will be important when we discuss the role of terpenes. When we refer to full spectrum CBD, we are talking about CBD products that contain the entire plant. This is in contrast to CBD isolate products, which only contain the cannabinoid “Cannabidiol” or CBD. Unlike traditional pharmaceutical companies that prefer to extract a single compound for drug development, we lean towards full spectrum CBD to make use of the full plant.
When the whole plant is used, other phytocannabinoids and terpenes are present. This is an important distinction, since CBD is just one of hundreds of cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis and hemp plants. Full spectrum CBD is considered more beneficial compared to an isolate because the plant components amplify each other’s therapeutic benefits in a synergistic manner, achieving something known as the Entourage Effect. We’ll come back to this shortly.
So we know what full spectrum CBD is. What are these terpenes that it can contain? At a high level, terpenes are the aromatic, volatile compounds that are found in plants (not just CBD products). Every time that you smell flowers or get a whiff of fresh fruit, what you are experiencing are the terpenes at work. Although it is not obvious, we are actually completely surrounded by terpenes in different aspects of our day to day life.
When it comes to cannabis, terpenes are the compounds that give the plant its individual, unique smell. What many people don’t realize is that THC, CBD, and the other cannabinoids actually have no odor, so the fragrance comes from whichever terpenes are present. In products with THC, it is the combination of terpenes and THC that give products their specific flavor.
Terpenes serve a greater function than simply aroma or taste, however. They are actually thought to have additional beneficial properties. The existence of terpenes is not a new thing. And scientists who have been studying terpenes for a while, have been led to believe specific terpenes could have different therapeutic effects. In fact, there are several researchers who have made notes of the role terpenes could play in aromatherapy, a holistic healing practice.
Now, a plant can have a large variety of different terpenes. In fact, when it comes to cannabis, there are maybe 200 different terpenes that have been found. However, there is only a select handful of these substances that appear in amounts substantial enough for them to be worth mentioning.
Think about all the different herbs and florals that we encounter with their distinct aroma and properties, from lavender to orange blossom to rosemary--they are all brimming with terpenes. And, they have components that can make us feel good as well. For example, lavender has a calming, relaxing effect. Orange blossom can be used as a nerve tonic. And rosemary has long been known to be good for the respiratory system. What might come as a surprise is: all of these terpenes are also found in hemp.
Due to its healing properties, terpenes have long been subjected to scientific research. It was a Pharmacology Researcher by the name of Dr. Ethan Russo that ultimately brought to light the therapeutic importance of terpenes in the hemp plant in his widely spread paper, ‘Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.’ In this paper, he describes how “mice exposed to terpenoid odors inhaled from ambient air for 1 h demonstrated profound effects on activity levels, suggesting a direct pharmacological effect on the brain, even at extremely low serum concentrations.”
This is largely where the use of the phrase “entourage effect” originated from. When it comes to hemp and CBD oil, we are not interested in all the individual properties of the various terpenes. Especially since the hemp plant itself has over 400 active compounds. Instead, while modern medicine may favor the single extraction of compounds for drugs, full plant extracts are held in higher regard and seen to have a stronger effect than isolated cannabinoids.
The combination of the various compounds and substances creates this synergy that amplifies the overall effects, otherwise known as “the entourage effect.”
So now that we have an understanding of what terpenes are, what full spectrum CBD is, and how terpenes can help create this Entourage Effect, let’s talk about the different types of terpenes and their individual benefits. Almost all of our products contain trace amounts and at times, large amounts of terpenes. It’s important to understand what those individual terpenes are and what they add to the CBD products you are purchasing.
Much like its name suggests, the pinene terpene is found in pine needles, along with other conifers, in addition to some citrus fruits, as well as sage and rosemary. The aroma can be considered to be sharp and sweet. When utilized in aromatherapy or as a scent, pinene can have an effect on memory retention and alertness. Some of its healing properties or therapeutic benefits include its use as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and for asthma.
Arguably, the linalool terpene is one that would feel most familiar to the average person because of its delicate, floral aroma. It is largely recognizable because of its presence in lavender, but linalool can also be found in rosewood, citrus, laurel, and birch. Many brands will add linalool to their beauty products or topicals because of the desirable scent. Linalool can have calming, sedative effects and is often used in aromatherapy as a popular sleep aid or anti-anxiety ingredient. It can also be used to help with stress, depression, pain, and even convulsions.
When it comes to cannabis, the myrcene terpene is one of the most common ones to be brought up. The aroma can be described as musky, earthy, herbal, or “dank” which is something many people have come to associate with cannabis. Although it is actually the smallest terpene, myrcene actually has very strong effects on the body and is known to create a drowsy, sleepy effect by making someone feel tired. Outside of hemp and cannabis, it can also be found in mango, thyme, lemongrass, and bay leaves. Medical properties that have been attributed to myrcene include its use as an antibacterial compound, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antifungal.
This is another terpene that is named accordingly. The limonene terpene is indeed found in citrus fruits and not surprisingly, it has an aroma of lemons and citrus fruits. It is known to be a mood booster and can alleviate emotional turbulence or provide general stress relief. As far as other therapeutic or medical properties, it is known to be an antifungal agent, anti-inflammatory, and can be used for anxiety, depression, and gastric reflux.
Now, what’s particularly interesting about limonene is the role it plays in CBD. It is considered a very important terpene because it actually expedites the absorption rate of other terpenes.
Caryophyllene is often found in cloves, cinnamon, basil, oregano and black pepper. The aroma can be described as spicy, woody, or pepper like. The caryophyllene terpene is unique because it doesn’t have any obvious physical effects, but has been shown to help with insomnia, muscle spasms, pain, and can be used as an antioxidant. What sets it apart from other terpenes, is it may have the potential to interact with the endocannabinoid system, similar to cannabinoids.
Humulene is another pretty common terpene in cannabis. The aroma that humulene gives off is best described as earthy, woody, or even ‘hoppy’ -- not surprisingly as it can be found in hops and coriander. For physical effects, it is known to act as an appetite suppressant. For healing properties, it can be used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and for pain.
An oversimplified way to think of terpenes is to almost think of them the way you would essential oils. The original hemp or cannabis plant has specific tastes or aromas that are associated with it that is retained through its terpenes. And terpenes can provide specific physical effects such as a calming sensation or helping with alertness, much like there are essential oils for everything.
Now, terpenes are not always tested by every lab so it may not show in the lab reports or Certificates of Analysis. However, just because it isn’t tested doesn’t mean that they are not present. If you are ever concerned about the terpenes present in a product and/or don’t see them present in the COA, never hesitate to reach out to the company or brand directly.
At Envy CBD, almost all our products contain trace amounts of terpenes because of our preference to lean towards creating full-spectrum CBD products. All our lab reports are made readily available and we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have if you have specific concerns. Below is a breakdown of terpene content for a few of the product categories that we offer.
In summary, terpenes can play small or large roles in full spectrum CBD products. Because of their healing properties and distinct aromas, terpenes have a number of therapeutic uses including aromatherapy. Full spectrum CBD means that all of the terpenes and cannabinoids that are in the whole plant stay intact during processing, which makes an impact on how the body actually receives CBD.
Unlike modern medicine, where a single extract of a compound is favored for the production of pharmaceutical drugs, the combination of terpenes and the various cannabinoids present in full spectrum CBD allows for a synergy that we’ve come to recognize as the Entourage Effect. This is because the different substances and compounds work together to create an enhanced effect. This cannot be achieved with CBD isolate products, which is a big reason why Envy CBD leans heavily towards full spectrum CBD products.
Plants contain hundreds and hundreds of different terpenes that are responsible for the aroma or scent that it gives off. Cannabis and hemp plants are no different. While there are around 200 terpenes found in a cannabis plant, there are only a handful that have significant amounts to be noticeable. Each terpene has different physical effects and medical properties that can really enhance the CBD product. In other words, it works together to provide multiplied perks.
Whether or not you knew what terpenes were, it is more than likely that you’ve encountered them at various points throughout your day. A lot of the scents and florals that we recognize such as citrus, lavender, rosewood, sage, and so on are the result of terpenes at work. We’re already very familiar with the benefits of some of these herbs and plants, so it is no surprise that the terpenes from these extracts also have similar benefits.
6 of the most common and frequently present terpenes in full spectrum CBD are pinene, linalool, myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, and humulene. At a high level, pinene is great for memory retention and alertness and can be used for asthma. Linalool is recognized for its association with lavender and has calming effects and can be used for anxiety or depression. Myrcene creates that musky, dank aroma that has come to be associated with cannabis. Limonene helps increase the absorption rate of other terpenes. Caryophyllene has been shown to help with insomnia. And humulene is commonly used as an appetite suppressant.
When it comes to terpenes, there is a lot more to offer than just taste or smell. It is not common knowledge that terpenes have so many natural uses and much like essential oils, there is likely a terpene for everything. And while CBD isolate products can be consumed on its own, the interaction of all the hemp compounds in full spectrum CBD products offer better overall benefits due to the entourage effect. When the terpenes interact with the other substances that are present, their properties are magnified creating a better experience for your body.
An easy way to think about terpenes is to think about them the way you would with essential oils. While they are not the full story, they certainly add an extra layer to the CBD experience. Different terpenes have different properties and every one has a different preference for aromas or scents.
Whether you had a prior understanding of terpenes or not, it is something worth looking into! While not all labs test for terpene content, this doesn’t mean they are not present. The next time you are looking to CBD to address specific pain points or needs, be it anxiety or inflammation or insomnia or other ailments, consider looking at the products which contain terpenes that may directly impact those symptoms.
As always, we encourage all of our customers to do research and due diligence prior to making any CBD purchase. Reputable brands will always provide Certificates of Analysis breaking down the exact content of their product. Envy CBD is proud to be a premium provider of CBD products.
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