Terpenes (also referred to as terps), are the highly-scented compounds that plants produce to deter pests and entice pollinators such as bees and birds. Terps are responsible for the most wonderful smells in the world. They’re also powerful antioxidants that contain anti-inflammatory properties which are great for our overall health and wellbeing.
Unless you’ve heard of terps before, we think you’d be shocked to know you can find them all around you, they exist in every day parts of your life. Cast your mind back to the first time you smelled a beautiful flower, your favourite perfume of all time, or when you walk through the fruit and veg aisle and smell the delicious freshness.
What are Marijuana Terpenes? Where Else Would I Find Them?
One of the most abundant sources of terpenes appears in Cannabis sativa, which is the plant that includes both marijuana and hemp.
You might be interested to learn that marijuana and hemp are different varieties of the same plant. From a flora and botanical point of view, each ‘strain’ of cannabis (also known as chemovar) has a different terpene profile, which influences its effects (such as how it looks, smells, and how you feel when you consume it).
Over time, you will narrow down what works for you and your cannabis journey goals. For this, we think it’s important to know the terpene profile of a CBD oil or a CBD edible, as this allows you to get an understanding of what effects to expect.
Terpenes and CBD
As previously mentioned, the expression CBD terpenes simply refers to terps that are commonly found in hemp (one variant of the Cannabis sativa plant). These do not get one ‘high’, as terps act on cell receptors and neurotransmitters that affect our mood and other biological responses, rather than the areas of the brain that produce the feelings of being ‘high’.
All of the natural elements (known as phytocompounds) of hemp are present when a full spectrum CBD oil is made – which is the process of obtaining all of the cannabinoids such as THC, terps and fatty acids that naturally occur in the plant. Full spectrum CBD is often called a full or whole plant extract.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the more common hemp terpenes which are non-strain specific, and whilst this is by no means a full list, it does represent some of the plant’s more well-known phytocompounds:
- Limonene – The limonene terpene is commonly found in the rinds of citrus fruits, especially lemons (the name gives it away!)
- Myrcene terpenes are some of the most common terpenoids associated with hemp. They have a wonderfully rich, earthy, herbal scent.
- Linalool – Another very common terpene in hemp is linalool. This is a compound that many are probably already familiar with, as it boasts a floral, delicate aroma that’s common in many plant species (most notably lavender).
- Caryophyllene – One of the most abundant terpenes of all, caryophyllene offers an intensely spicy, woody aroma and is found in cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and hemp.
- Pinene terpenes are, unsurprisingly, found in pine needles. But they’re also found in several distinct strains of hemp.
Humulene is another common compound and is often described as ‘hoppy.’ Humulene can be found in various brews, and responsible for giving beer its abundantly rich and distinctly hoppy scent and taste.
So How Can I Start Benefiting from Them?
You may now be wondering how you can use terpenes to improve your wellbeing. We recommend you practice the art of aromatherapy. Terpenes are the reason that essential oils have such a strong and often alluring scent, and are said to promote various health benefits such as helping to calm you down (lavender) or boosting your energy level (citrus). Diffusing essential oil can help you relax, meditate, and even sleep. Diffusing lime or grapefruit oil may help you feel more awake and alert.
While some oils with potent terpenes, such as peppermint, can help with physical ailments, others like rose can elevate spirituality and mindfulness. Topically applying terpenes in the form of oil can also temporarily reduce pain from muscle soreness, particularly with aniseed or mint scents. Think of them as Mother Nature’s muscle rubs.
On top of probable therapeutic benefits, terpenes can add palatable dimensions to foods and drinks, too. For example, one or two drops of botanically derived terpenes can be enough to infuse a cocktail or hot drink, just as adding mint leaves would jazz up a simple gin and tonic or green tea.
Terps are intended to be used regularly and consistently throughout daily life, and improve health over a longer period of time. If you are cannabis-averse but want to experience the health effects of cannabis, cannabis terpenes can be a great first step.It’s important to remember that terpenes aren’t a quick fix, and will not produce the same effects that ingesting marijuana will.