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What Are Terpenes & What Do They Do?

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What Are Terpenes & What Do They Do?

December 28, 2020

You’re probably familiar with cannabinoids at this point, but what about terpenes? What are terpenes and what do they do within hemp & hemp oil? Let’s explore these questions in detail.

Terpenes are compounds found in plants, such as cannabis. They are responsible for producing the aromas commonly associated with hemp products. Terpenes in hemp create a recognizable scent, just as other plants do, like pine, citrus, and mint. Terpenes are also responsible for the familiar smells of flowers like roses & tulips. In addition to producing floral fragrances, terpenes also provide several health benefits--many of which are still being researched.

Some may wonder how terpenes make you feel, and if they can get you high. Many studies have dove into the relationship between various cannabis terpenes and related cannabinoids, like THC and CBD. Some results show that a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes can provide a more relaxing, mellow feeling. By themselves, terpenes do not cause a high.

Terpenes Definitions

As we mentioned, Terpenes are organic compounds found in a variety of plants, and contribute to their flavor, scent and color.

These substances are the building blocks for essential oils and plant resins, and are often used in food additives, perfumery and aromatherapy. Some are even thought to have medicinal properties and help in fighting bacteria, fungus and environmental stress.

Plants like rosemary, mint or basil have a strong terpene profile, and this is why they’re referred to as aromatic plants. Cannabis contains a wide range of terpenes (over 200) that are thought to interact synergistically with the cannabinoids in the plant, and to enhance its health effects. As a result, some of these terpenes appear in CBD. The list below defines terpenes that are commonly found in hemp.

List Of Terpenes Related To CBD & Hemp

BCP (beta-caryophyllene) is a terpene found in the cannabis plant that is known to activate the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system and to exert anti-inflammatory effects. It’s non-psychoactive, and is the first FDA approved dietary cannabinoid, being used as a food additive.

Vitamin A is also a terpene, although we don’t generally think of it this way. Conifers produce large amounts of these compounds, and most plants produce higher quantities of terpenes in the warmer seasons. This is one of the terpenes in hemp that can produce piney smells.

Alpha-pinene is one of the most known terpenes in cannabis and is also found in sage and rosemary. One benefit of this terpene is that it is known to act as a natural bronchodilator and expectorant and to help one focus better. It increases the mental energy and can even act as a topical antiseptic.

Limonene, another terpene found in the cannabis strains, is also present in citrus fruits, juniper and peppermint, and has beneficial anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-depressant effects. Moreover, it is suggested that this compound exerts anti-carcinogenic properties, and is known to increase blood pressure.

Myrcene is found in menthol, lemongrass and most varieties of marijuana, and is widely used in the perfumery industry. Just like the previously mentioned compounds, this beneficial terpene has anti-microbial and anti-septic properties, and acts as a natural anti-depressant, anti-carcinogen and anti-inflammatory agent. It’s a relaxing substance and in marijuana-derived products, it increases the cell membrane permeability, allowing for higher amounts of THC to travel to the brain cells.

CBD with terpenes can have some or all of these scents and flavors--while others have none. There are endless combinations of terpenes that can exist within CBD products, but not all terpenes are noticeable in hemp products.

Terpenes and hemp oil

Unlike cannabis, hemp does not have a strong flavor and is not referred to as an aromatic plant, therefore the terpene profile of hemp is less significant than that of cannabis. But the plant still contains such compounds, and none of them are psychoactive. Terpenes in hemp have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-viral properties, the most known of them being caryophyllene and myrcene.

The hemp plant contains 120 terpenes, but depending on the processing method, these can or cannot be found in the CBD oil. Terpene oil made of hemp seeds is less abundant in terpenes than the similar product obtained from other portions of the plant (Hendriks et al, 1978).

Hemp contains mostly monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes (Turner et al, 1980), which can be concentrated into essential oils through steam distillation methods. Myrcene is also known to exhibit antioxidant properties (Duke, 1999), and caryophyllene has cytoprotective effects. Cannabinoids have no smell, so the flavor and aroma of hemp products depends on their terpenes profile. Of all the terpenes found in hemp, only few appear in amounts high enough to be noteworthy. That being said, if you’d like to try our CBD Hemp Oil--you can see for yourself which terpenes you detect.

Keep Learning With Elixinol

Want to keep learning about CBD & Hemp? Check out our blog, or the education page for an in-depth dive into the world of CBD!