You’re standing at the bar ordering a drink when all of a sudden, a sweet smell of orange fills the space between you and the bartender. You look down and know the smell isn’t coming from your Manhattan, and then you see it. The girl next to you is vaping, but the smell–the sweet orange–is one you’ve never smelled before. Terpenes are the new additive to CBD, but what are they?
In consumer products, terpenes are the chemical compounds that give cannabis its distinctive smell and flavor. Companies are adding terpenes, along with cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), to tinctures, vaping oils, lotions, foods, and beverages in states where medical and recreational cannabis is legal. It’s amazing how many places terpenes are in your everyday life. Imagine the smell of fresh flowers in your garden, or the smell of fresh fruit in your kitchen, or even your favorite body fragrance. Terpenes, also known as “terps,” are pungent compounds produced by plants to repel pests and attract pollinators. These plants provide you with the uplifting aroma of citrus fruits, as well as the soothing odor of lavender. These terpene molecules serve as antioxidants and also have anti-inflammatory properties. In the case of terpenes, there is a difference between terpenoids and terpenes. In the flower or bud of the cannabis plant, terpenes are the natural compounds that produce their aroma. Alternatively, terpenoids are composed of terpenes that have been chemically transformed to form terpenoids. A cannabis flower is dried, cured, and its terpenoids are created as a result of the drying process.
Although terpenes don’t produce the high associated with delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), some of them have sedative, anxiety-reducing properties, which makes them useful for treating anxiety and other ailments. Here is a list of the main terpenes found in CBD oil.
As a terpene, pinene and neroli derivatives are the most common in nature and are produced in significant quantities by numerous plants, including basil, cedar, conifer trees, dill, eucalyptus, oranges (mostly the peel), parsley, pine trees, rosemary, and literally hundreds of others. As a matter of fact, there is even evidence that turpentine contains this substance, which has been used as a detergent, medicine, and paint solvent for thousands of years. The reason for this is, however, that pine trees are the source of turpentine, which is distilled from them. Terpenes don’t all smell like they sound, but pinene’s special.
The compound is also found in herbs like rosemary, parsley, basil, and even orange peel. It gives cannabis a distinctive pine scent. The terpene imparts a broad range of anti-inflammatory effects, especially on the respiratory system. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the ingesting of cannabis that contains a high pinene content-especially with the use of vaporizers or vape pens that are much gentler on the lungs than burning-can greatly reduce the inflammation that results from allergies and asthma. Our moods are also affected by pinene. When consumed, it enhances our memory and attention, making us feel more alert and lucid.
A terpene with an earthy, fruity smell, alpha-humulene, is found in most cannabis chemovars. It can also be found in hops, sage, and ginseng. Alpha-humulene acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Research suggests that it may also help suppress appetites. The hop oil of Humulus, which is a species of hemp plant that gives beer its distinctive bitter, “hoppy” taste, contains a substance called Humulene. Humulene was first identified in the essential oils of this hemp plant. As with any terpene present in a strain, humulene can also impart a beer-like smell to marijuana, depending upon the other terpenes in the strain. Aside from that, its aroma is subtle: earthy, woody, and spicy with herbal undertones. Humulene is also in coriander, basil, clove, black pepper, sage, and balsam fir. In cannabis, it’s mostly found in sativas. Humulene is a powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor agent that can be used for all purposes. It is also anorectic, which means it reduces hunger, unlike most strains of cannabis that are humulene-rich.
The terpene Myrcene is named after a shrub in Brazil known as Myrcia sphaerocarpa, which is used in traditional medicine for treatment of diarrhea, high blood pressure and even diabetes. There is a sedative effect of myrcene. As well as being common in marijuana chemovars, it is also present in hops, mangoes, lemongrass, and basil. The terpene known as myrcene (also known as alpha-myrcene or beta-myrcene) is one of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis, with a spicy, earthy, musky scent that contributes to the mild sweetness of cannabis strains.
The terpene myrcene is the best terpene to turn to if you want to calm the mind and the body. Researchers have found that consuming cannabis with myrcene levels above 0.5 percent produces a state of deep relaxation known as “couch lock,” caused by using an Indica-dominant strain. A cannabis plant’s myrcene content can make up a significant percentage of the total amount of terpenes in its leaves. The active ingredient in Myrcene is a powerful antibiotic, antimutagenic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and sedative.
The terpene linalool can be found both in lavender and in other spices such as cinnamon and coriander, as well as being responsible for the fragrance. With sedative and relaxing properties, it may be helpful for treating insomnia and for preventing seizures because it is also an anticonvulsant. Linalool is also a powerful antioxidant that works to improve immunity to stress-induced damage to the body. There is a shift in the distribution of white blood cells in the body (i.e., the immune cells) when we are under stress. The percentage of lymphocytes decreases, while the percentage of neutrophils increases as a result. Linalool, when administered in rats, prevented this shift, and in doing so, prevented the stress-induced changes in how the rats’ DNA is expressed. Behavioral effects of linalool may largely be mediated by its effects on the brain. Linalool may have anti-epileptic properties in some forms of epilepsy due to blocking the receptors for the primary excitatory chemical in the brain, glutamate. This could explain linalool’s potential anti-epileptic effect. Other sedatives, such as pentobarbital, can also be enhanced by this terpene. Moreover, linalool may relax muscles and relieve pain through additional distinct mechanisms. Linalool, for instance, can decrease the signaling strength of acetylcholine, which is necessary for muscle contraction and movement due to its effect on acetylcholine signaling.
Interestingly, linalool can have anesthetic effects similar to those of eucalyptus because it reduces excitability of cells in the spinal cord that transmit pain signals to the brain.
The chemical limonene is found in citrus rinds and is used in numerous products such as foods, perfumes, and household cleaning solutions to give them a lemony smell. Limonene is also an effective pesticide and solvent. Have you ever wondered what gives certain strains their citrusy smell? This is limonene, a terpene that boosts mood, relieves stress, and enhances even your ordinary products. It is also found in pine, mint, the peel of citrus fruits, and essential oils such as lemon oil and orange oil in nature. It’s used in food to make it taste good. You’ll find it in everything from anti-acne skin treatments to cleaning products. Medicinally, limonene is in both pharmaceuticals and herbal treatments. In terms of its antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, there are few things that limonene cannot treat.
Terpenes give CBD an additive to help with many different things. From stress to appetite control, these scents aren’t just trendy, but rather they help combat some distinctive ailments. And users of these terps love the benefits.