Terpenes are natural compounds produced primarily by plants and occasionally by insects. They’re often very strongly scented, and some plants – most notably conifers, flowers, spices, and the cannabis plant – produce them in great quantity.
Pine resin, for example, is extremely rich in terpenes.
The main reason why terpenes have entered the public consciousness recently, though, is because they are extremely important to consumers of high-end cannabis products. Whether you’re a consumer of cannabis flowers or processed products like CBD vape cartridges, terpenes play a major role in your experience. You’re about to learn why.
Why Are Terpenes Important to Cannabis Consumers?
Hemp cultivation is a veritable playground for those who enjoy plant genetics. The cannabis Sativa plant has around 120 identified terpenes, and those terpenes express themselves in different blends and proportions depending on the genetic lineage of a particular hemp strain. Since terpenes have such strong flavors and smells, individual hemp strains have their own distinct flavor profiles. One strain might have a strong note of diesel fuel, while another has a note that tastes a bit like berries. Since the most popular hemp strains have been extensively analyzed by labs, we know what the most prevalent terpenes are in those strains along with the proportions in which those terpenes appear.
Terpenes are also an important part of the CBD vaping industry as they are often used to enhance products like CBD vape cartridges. Crescent Canna, for example, adds specific terpene blends to its CBD vape cartridges to mimic the flavor profiles of well-known hemp strains like Headband OG and Strawberry Cough. As you’re about to learn, terpenes may also offer other benefits in addition to their delicious flavors.
How Are Terpenes Used Outside the Cannabis Industry?
Although the term “terpene” probably didn’t enter your vocabulary until you began reading about cannabis, the fact is that terpenes were probably fairly major parts of your life before then. The characteristic flavors of many plant-based foods – the citrus oils in the zest of a lemon, for example – come from terpenes.
Terpenes are also present in many of the essential oils that we use for perfumery and aromatherapy. The terpene linalool, for instance, gives lavender its characteristic scent – and lavender is one of the most popular ingredients in both of those fields. Vetiver is another popular scent derived from terpenes.
Do you use soaps, lotions, and other cosmetic products scented with essential oils? Those scents come from terpenes. For another practical example of terpenes as a part of everyday life, just look at the ingredients on a container of scented body spray. You’ll almost definitely see both linalool and limonene, among other terpenes.
Terpenes and Aromatherapy
People love the way that many terpenes smell and taste, but those aren’t the only reasons why we use them. Terpenes also have potential health benefits, and those benefits form the basis of aromatherapy. Even if you haven’t explored the world of aromatherapy yourself, it’s probably already a part of your life to a certain extent because everyone is influenced to some degree by the way things smell. Lavender, for instance – with a scent that comes primarily from the terpene linalool – is thought by many to aid in relaxation. That’s why lavender is added to many “relaxing” nighttime bath products and to pillow sachets.
So, does aromatherapy really work? So far, research has produced inconclusive results. It’s hard to conduct a placebo-controlled test on aromatherapy since subjects can easily tell whether they’re smelling the real thing or a placebo. You’ve probably noticed, though, that various scents do affect you in different ways. Most people find linalool relaxing. Limonene – from citrus fruits – tends to produce an energetic or uplifting sensation.
Benefits of Terpenes in Cannabis
If you’ve read any of the medical studies examining the potential benefits of CBD, you’ve no doubt noticed that we are still in the very early stages of understanding cannabis and its potential benefits – and if you think that cannabis research has a long way to go, just wait until you start reading about terpenes. As we already know from the existence of aromatherapy, terpenes definitely do have benefits – or, at least, many people find them beneficial. We are a long way from confirming, however, whether terpenes have any provable medical benefits.
There also hasn’t been any research examining whether it is more beneficial to use terpenes by consuming them – such as in an oral CBD oil enhanced with terpenes – or by inhaling them via a CBD vape cartridge or similar product.
With those things having been said, here are some of the potential benefits of the most common cannabis terpenes.
- Linalool, as mentioned above, is thought to be one of the most calming terpenes. In addition to the fact that linalool seems to relax the body and promote restful sleep, there is also some evidence suggesting that it reduces inflammation and pain.
- Do you feel energized when you smell citrus oil? There may be a good reason for that. Researchers have administered limonene to mice and found that it seems to improve symptoms in an animal model of depression.
- Myrcene has a smell reminiscent of cloves or cardamom and is thought to produce a sedating effect and to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Caryophyllene smells a bit like pepper or spices and stimulates the body’s endocannabinoid system. It is therefore possible that it may make the body more receptive to cannabinoids or may enhance the effects of the cannabinoids you consume.
- Pinene, as you might have guessed from the name, smells like pine needles. It is thought to promote alertness and may help to alleviate anxiety.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
Reading the list above, you’ve probably noticed that some of the potential benefits of terpenes are very similar to the potential benefits that researchers have discovered when studying the properties of CBD. Based on that, it should come as no surprise that some people may find CBD more effective when it’s consumed along with the terpenes that one would find naturally in hemp.
The term “entourage effect” is often used within the cannabis community to describe the idea that CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids work synergistically with one another to provide a stronger effect than what you’d get from consuming any one of those compounds individually.
The next time you try a CBD vape cartridge from Crescent Canna or another company that adds terpenes to its products, take a moment to enjoy the flavors and scents of some of the most potent compounds in nature. More importantly, though, you should also pay attention to how you feel. You may find that the terpenes are almost as beneficial as the CBD itself.
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