The complexity of the cannabis plant is far from limited to the over 100 cannabinoids scientists have identified. While compounds such as CBD, THC, CBC dominate the attention and the majority of demand, terpenes play a significant role in the user experience and benefits. Therefore, understanding the importance of terpenes is a critical step in finding the best cannabis products available.
In this post, we will discuss how terpenes enhance cannabinoids by increasing the overall beneficial properties of hemp-derived products. We will also cover the most abundant terpenes in hemp plants, scientific research on the effects, and how to identify terpene content in CBD products.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic oils found in all plants that play a significant part in the plant’s evolution. Some help deter herbivores and harmful parasites, while others attract pollinators. One of the reasons cannabis is such a unique plant is its unusually high concentration of a wide array of terpenes. The oils contribute to the plant’s taste, smell, color, and felt effects.
In the past, many people in the scientific community attributed THC or CBD content to a plant’s classification as an indica or sativa. As we learned more about the chemical composition of cannabis, the consensus of the scientific community changed. We now understand terpenes as the driving factor for what makes a hemp or marijuana strain deliver sativa or indica-like properties.
Strains with high concentrations of sedating terpenes like Myrcene tend to lean on the indica end of the spectrum, while plants composed of more uplifting terpenes like limonene tend to be more sativa.
Identifying the chemical composition rather than referencing the less than perfect cannabis taxonomy system can help CBD consumers find products that will cater to their specific needs.
The Most Common Terpenes in Hemp
Of the tens of thousands of known terpenes in nature, about 150 have been identified in the cannabis plant. The resin glands produced by female cannabis plants are packed with valuable chemical compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes. Superior hemp extracts keep as much of both types of compounds as possible to create the optimal user experience.
Below are some of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis and a summary of their effects and benefits. Understanding the role of these terpenes and identifying the concentration level can help you find the best product or stain for your needs.
- Limonene – Commonly found in citrus. Limone is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties.
- Pinene – A natural bronchodilator found in pine needles. Also believed to improve memory, provide pain relief and increase energy levels.
- Beta-Caryophyllene – Found in many essential oils. Known to reduce anxiety, pain, and has shown promise treating seizures.
- Linalool – Well know for high concentration in lavender. Linalool is used to relieve stress, anxiety and improve moods aromatically.
- Myrcene – Sedating terpene that’s very common in cannabis flowers. Also found in hops and bay leaves.
How Terpenes Enhance Cannabinoids?
The relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes is far from fully understood. However, we know that certain terpenes have some of the same benefits as CBD, while others inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC. Prominent cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo is one of the most prolific minds in the community and a strong advocate for terpenes. His famous scientific paper, Taming THC, outlines the mechanism that specific terpenes affect cannabinoids.
Discovery Magazine reports that terpenes help cannabinoids in three ways, “They improve our ability to absorb beneficial chemicals through the blood-brain barrier, overcome bacterial defense mechanisms, and increase the absorption and effectiveness of cannabinoids.”
Whether terpenes assist cannabinoids in producing anti-inflammatory, calming, or sedating effects or delivering these effects on their own isn’t as important as choosing the suitable terpenes for your desired outcome. The process is complex but what is clear is that terpenes add value to all cannabis products.
Finding CBD Products with Terpenes
Check lab tests! Legitimate CBD companies will provide terpene potency tests and have them readily available online. However, be conscious that some companies add terpenes to their products. We tend to prefer naturally extracted cannabis terpenes, but there is a case to be made for adding terpenes to products to maximize benefits. Either way, find the potency, where your terpenes are coming from, and how they are extracted.