What are Terpenes in CBD?
Posted on April 28 2022
If you’ve done any level of research into CBD (cannabidiol) and its potential health benefits, you may have come across mention of terpenes. Terpenes represent aromatic compounds found in a wide variety of plants, like many common herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers. In particular, the cannabis sativa plant, from which CBD is produced, contains many different varieties of terpenes. However, the amounts and the types of terpenes that are found in a final CBD product range pretty widely, depending on the particular production process and the desired end use of the product.
While terpenes are abundant in many different kinds of cannabis, we’ve listed below some of the most common in finished CBD products:
Terpenes Found in CBD
When it comes to their presence in a wide variety of plants, terpenes are generally responsible for providing fragrance. So every time you smell fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers’ market or breathe in the aroma of a fresh-cut bouquet of flowers, you’re generally enjoying the terpenes. As you might expect, terpenes have become popular for their aromatherapy benefit, and you can also find CBD products with terpenes either added or retained during the production process—largely because the health benefits of terpenes have recently begun to garner attention. And in some cases, users say that the presence of terpenes in CBD products can boost the CBD’s overall efficacy. This phenomenon is described as the entourage effect.
What Are Terpenes in CBD?
More than 200 different terpenes have been identified within the cannabis sativa plant, which also contains CBD and other cannabinoids. However, only about a handful of these aromatic compounds appear in concentrations high enough to be considered significant. Each terpene has different physical effects and medical properties that can enhance a CBD product. In fact, terpenes can be extremely important when it comes to the overall effectiveness of a CBD product. Not only can terpenes help customize the experience of CBD oil users, but they also may enhance the effects of the major cannabinoids—including CBD. In their natural state, cannabinoids like CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have no odor, so the fragrance of the CBD product you choose likely comes from the presence of terpenes.
For example, adding linalool and myrcene will result in a CBD product with more relaxing, sleep-inducing qualities. But adding limonene and/or caryophyllene could result in a product that encourages focus and energy. So you can pick and choose among CBD products, depending on the overall effect you’re looking to achieve. Overall, many CBD users have reported that a CBD tincture or oil with terpenes is more beneficial for them than a CBD product simply based on distillates or isolates.
One school of thought holds that using CBD products with the full spectrum of terpenes available creates what’s known as the entourage effect. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Using a broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD product with terpenes included can help magnify the effects of CBD, giving you a greater therapeutic effect than if you took CBD in an isolate form.
For example, the terpene limonene helps the body absorb other terpenes more efficiently, and caryophyllene may directly interact with cannabinoid receptors. The effect of terpenes is largely why different cannabis strains may provide different effects for the same user. This is related not only to their cannabinoid ratios, but also to the presence of specific terpenes and their unique, individual qualities. The entourage effect is also the reason many users consider broad spectrum CBD or full spectrum CBD oil superior to CBD isolate products.
Do CBD Terpenes Get You High?
The short answer is no. In fact, this is a huge difference in CBD vs. THC. The psychoactive effect typically associated with marijuana is related solely to THC. And in order for CBD products to be legally sold in the United States, they must contain lower than a .3 percent concentration of THC. So as long as you’re purchasing your CBD products from a retailer you trust (one who shares third-party testing reports for its products), you can rest assured that you won’t experience the sense of euphoria associated with THC’s intoxicating effect.
Does All CBD Contain Terpenes?
While terpenes occur naturally in the cannabis plant, not all CBD end products contain terpenes. In some cases, this is a key differentiator between hemp oil vs. CBD oil. Some manufacturers remove some or all terpenes in order to create a CBD isolate product, which contains nothing but pure CBD. However, there is some debate over whether you can enjoy the full benefits of CBD without the presence of those naturally occurring terpenes, as well as other cannabinoids.
At Farmer & Chemist, you can rest assured knowing that all our CBD products contain terpenes naturally found in hemp.
How to Use CBD Terpenes
The benefit you get from the terpenes present in a CBD oil or other product largely depends on your consumption method. A good rule of thumb is to treat terpenes like you might treat an essential oil that you’re using for aromatherapy—meaning you can use them in either a topical or oral manner. For example, both myrcene and limonene have been shown to support digestive health, so you may benefit from taking a CBD edible product that features one or both of these terpenes. Linalool, on the other hand, with its relaxing effect, may work best in topical CBD products that you continue to smell as they soak into the skin.
Ultimately, the outcome you want will help determine which terpenes you’d like to see more of in your CBD end product. Different terpenes have widely varying properties, and each one has a unique aroma or scent that adds to the CBD experience. So, for example, next time you are choosing a CBD product to address a specific pain point or need—ranging from anxiety to insomnia, inflammation or something else—you might consider looking at the CBD products containing terpenes that may directly influence those outcomes.
If you’re looking to get the full entourage effect, make sure you’re reading labels of any CBD product you’re considering. You’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing either a broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD product from a retailer you trust. Make sure you also review the certificate of analysis associated with your product so that you can verify the terpene profile. Examining the certificate of analysis also lets you verify that your product contains less than .3 percent THC. And if you ever are curious about terpenes present in a product and/or don’t see them outlined in the certificate of analysis, never hesitate to reach out to the company or brand directly.
What Terpenes Are Found in CBD?
Let’s take a closer look into some of the specific terpenes that can be found in finished CBD products:
Caryophyllene naturally occurs in cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper—and it’s one of most interesting and promising terpenes you’ll find in CBD products. Caryophyllene gives some cannabis plant strains a spicy, woody, or pepper-like fragrance. Perhaps the most promising trait of this particular terpene is its potential ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a manner similar to cannabinoids. It also may produce analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, caryophyllene has been shown to reduce insomnia, pain, and muscle spasms, and can be used as an antioxidant.
Humulene, another common terpene found in the hemp plant, may act as an appetite suppressant and anti-inflammatory agent. Its aroma is similar to hops, which is another place where high concentrations of humulene are found. Other humulene-rich plants include coriander, cloves, and basil.
As you might expect from the name, limonene can be found in the zest of citrus fruit. Its scent is that of lime, orange, and lemon, and limonene is known to have antifungal properties. In addition, it may reduce inflammation, enhance mood, and even ease anxiety. When limonene is present in CBD oil, it may help increase the absorption rate of other terpenes.
The terpene linalool produces a delicate, floral aroma that you’re likely familiar with if you enjoy the scent of lavender or chamomile. In fact, linalool may be the terpene most people are likely to recognize. Many brands infuse CBD oils and other health and beauty products with linalool simply for the lovely scent, but it also is often added to CBD oil to provide a stronger sedative effect and to intensify its anti-anxiety effects. This terpene often is associated with feelings of calm and relaxation. While linalool may be most recognizable in lavender, it’s also found in rosewood, laurel, citrus fruit, and birch.
Myrcene, another common terpene in the cannabis plant, features an earthy, pungent, herbal fragrance, much like the cannabis flower. The aroma also often is described as musky, and is the chief fragrance typically associated with the cannabis plant. The myrcene terpene is known to produce powerful relaxing effects on the body, which sometimes result in feeling drowsy. In addition, myrcene is touted for its antibacterial and pain-relieving therapeutic effects. Besides the hemp plant and cannabis, myrcene also can be found in thyme, mango, lemongrass, and bay leaves. Its medical properties include being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal.
Pinene is another terpene that gives itself away by its name—found in pine needles and some citrus fruits, plus in rosemary and sage. The pinene terpene has long been respected as part of traditional Chinese medicine for its therapeutic benefits, which include being anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Pinene can also be used as a bronchodilator, which can benefit those who live with asthma, and it has a fragrance often described as both sharp and sweet. In addition, pinene can have a positive effect on memory retention and alertness.
Terpinolene is the terpene that gives cannabis plants their smokey and woodsy aromas. It’s also common in sage and rosemary, and is known for its antioxidant, antibacterial and even sedating qualities. Terpinolene has been found to depress the central nervous system, making it possible to reduce anxiety levels and encourage relaxation and drowsiness. In addition, there’s some indication that terpinolene could be good for the respiratory system. In fact, rosemary has long been used to encourage respiratory health.
Terpenes Enhance the CBD Experience
Largely related to their healing properties and unique fragrances, terpenes have a variety of therapeutic uses, not least among them aromatherapy and the potential ability to enhance the overall CBD experience.
As always, we encourage you to visit with your doctor about including cannabis products in any treatment regiment, and to do your due diligence when it comes to choosing a responsible product. Remember that reputable brands always will provide a certificate of analysis that breaks down the exact content of any product. We’re proud, at Farmer & Chemist, to be a reliable source for many different types of CBD products that contain naturally occurring terpenes—whenever you need an extra perspective, feel free to reach out to our qualified team of pharmacists and researchers. We’re here to help!