An increasingly important phrase within the CBD industry is “Cannabis Derived Terpenes”. But what exactly are terpenes, and what do they have to do with cannabis and CBD products? Similar to wine, cannabis plants contain a wide variety of flavour profiles. These flavour profiles, like wine, can vary depending on where the plant was grown, at what time of the year, and in what climate the plant was grown in. The interest surrounding the aromatic flavour profiles and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant are becoming increasingly popular, and attract an audience from scientists to cannabis connoisseurs. But where exactly do these flavour profiles come from, and why is everyone so interested in them?
What is a “Terpene”?
Broadly speaking, a “terpene” is an organic compound created by plants. They are usually pungent with strong odors in order to deter predators and parasites from consuming the plants. Like most others, the cannabis plant contains its own set of terpenes. Therefore, Cannabis Derived Terpenes are distinctive aromatic oils derived from the cannabis plant, produced by the same glands that create CBD and THC. These essential oils are extracted from the cannabis plant, and contain the plant’s pure flavour and scent. Notably, a plant’s terpene structure varies on a plant-to-plant basis, creating a unique flavour profile based on how the plant was grown and cultivated. So while two cannabis plants could have the same cannabinoid structure, the terpene structure could be different.
One of the main usages of terpenes is their aromatic flavour profile, which can be extracted from the cannabis without any THC-induced psychoactive properties. However, psychoactive experiences and therapeutic benefits associated with terpenes have also been studied. The positive associations between inhaling terpenes and a boost in emotional well-being are becoming increasingly examined within the broader study of terpenes. For example, disciplines such as aromatherapy are examples of terpenes at work. If you’ve ever felt calm or drowsy after smelling some lavender oil, that would be an example of a psychoactive property of the lavender’s terpene. So overall, terpenes are the aromatic essential oils extracted from all kinds of plants, including cannabis. The fragrant oils are important for their scents – and the possible therapeutic benefits of inhaling those scents.
What are Cannabis Derived Terpenes Used For?
Now that we’ve established what exactly “terpenes” are, we can delve into a discussion of what terpenes are used for, and why exactly they are all the rage in CBD products these days. To start, over 100 different types of terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, with flavours ranging from mint to pine to berries. The cannabis plant contains naturally high concentrations of terpenes, which can result in unique flavour profiles and a variety of therapeutic effects.
Terpenes give cannabis its natural flavor. Further, the variety of terpene structures means each plant can have distinct therapeutic benefits.
Cannabis terpenes have exploded in popularity in recent years due to their mass-market appeal. Notably, influencer and social media mogul’s Kim Kardashian’s 2019 CBD-themed baby shower treated guests to terpene-infused teas. The ability to naturally flavour cannabis products without artificial additives and the hypothesized therapeutic advantages of terpenes are both causes for the increasing interest in hemp terpenes in recent years. It is also becoming increasingly common for cannabis analysis labs to test for terpene content to better understand terpene strands and the effects they might produce.
Cannabis Terpenes in CBD Products
Terpenes can be extracted and utilized in a number of ways in CBD products. Primarily, they add a unique flavour profile to CBD products. However, recent studies have begun to investigate the synergy of terpenes with CBD, and how the terpenes can enhance the qualities and effects of CBD products. Many CBD users are becoming interested in the benefits of terpenes in the products they purchase, particularly their role in full-Spectrum CBD Products.
Terpenes are frequently utilized in Full-Spectrum CBD products (products that compile the full range of the cannabinoids found in hemp) due to the “Entourage Effect”, a term created by cannabis scientist Dr. Ethan Russo in 2011. This effect means that when the full range of cannabinoids work together in a product, they create a heightened effect. This full spectrum of cannabinoids includes terpenes. Due to the heightened effect of all the cannabinoids working together, many consumers are looking for full-spectrum CBD Products in order to maximize the benefits from cannabinoids and terpenes.
In addition to heightening the effects of CBD products, terpenes are also sought after for their natural flavour that mimics appealing aromas without the need for artificial additives. Terpenes are also used to give vape oils their natural flavours, and are often used in full-spectrum cannabis vape cartridges.
Common Cannabis Derived Terpenes and their Benefits
Examining some of the most common Cannabis Derived Terpenes can demonstrate the vast array of the impacts of these terpenes, and how they can enhance the user experience of CBD products. Some of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant are:
- Myrcene: The most common terpene found in cannabis. Earthy aroma, known for sedative effects, helpful for insomnia.
- Linalool: Floral flavour profile, also found in lavender, has calming properties, helpful for treating anxiety.
- Limonene: Citrusy aroma, relieves stress and elevates mood, often used as an antidepressant.
- Pinene: Pine flavour profile, also found in basil and rosemary, increases alertness, used to treat inflammation and asthma.
- Caryophyllene: Spicy and wood-like flavour, also found in cloves and cinnamon, used for pain relief and anti-inflammation.
- Nerol: Fresh flavour profile, used to treat anxiety.
Zooming In On: Myrcene Benefits
Myrcene is found in many plants and herbs, including in the cannabis plant. It is frequently utilized alongside other terpenes and cannabinoids to maximize the “entourage” effects of CBD products. It can be found in mangoes, thyme, and a variety of other natural sources. Further, myrcene is the most commonly-found terpene in the cannabis plant. It is non-toxic, and research has developed in recent years surrounding the terpene and its benefits. Notably, myrcene has been found to mimic some of the benefits of CBD.
Benefit 1: Potential Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Multiple researchers have examined the anti-inflammatory potential of myrcene. Various studies have used plants such as lemongrass and magnolia, both of which are high in myrcene, to test for its anti-inflammatory properties. In one instance, Korean mountain magnolias were capable of slowing endotoxins created during lung inflammation and inhibited inflammation of the lining of the lung. While these studies were performed on lungs, it suggests that myrcene could inhibit skin inflammation as well.
Benefit 2: Potential Pain-Relieving Effects
Pain relief goes hand-in-hand with the anti-inflammatory relief provided by myrcene. A 1991 study on rats found that an infusion of lemongrass, a plant high in myrcene, had pain relieving and sedative effects. Similar to many CBD products, plants containing high levels of myrcene have traditionally been used to treat pain. This is especially common in indigenous societies.
Benefit 3: Potential Sedative Effects
In the age of increased accessibility to technology such as laptops and cell phones that make it hard to fall asleep, many people seek out treatments for insomnia or sleep deprivation. The answer to these troubles might lie in myrcene. A 2012 study on rats found that a mixture of the terpenes myrcene and limonene had a sedative effect. The study found that myrcene increased sleep duration by around 2.6 times.
Overall, while there is still much progress to be made in the study of myrcene and its effects, it is clear that there is potential for myrcene to add many additional benefits to CBD products, and to work in tandem with CBD to maximize positive effects for its users.
The Future of Cannabis Derived Terpenes
Due to their natural flavour properties, the role they play in the “entourage effect”, and their mass-market appeal, terpenes are exploding on the scene and becoming increasingly popular. CBD users are beginning to seek products that include terpenes, due to their flavour profiles and also due to the potential to increase the effectiveness of the other cannabinoids found in products.
As the utilization of terpenes becomes more common, research into terpenes and their effects must also become more common. Clearly, cannabis terpenes contain a world of possibilities, and could be used in a variety of ways to increase the quality and effects of CBD products. If research surrounding terpenes continues to develop, it is possible that we will see terpenes featured more prominently on the labels of CBD products, and consumers will continue to seek out products based on their terpene content.
Overall, cannabis derived terpenes can add great depth to the consumption of CBD products. Try checking the labels of your CBD products and see which terpenes are included, and what benefits they might provide.