What Are Terpenes, and Where Do They Come From?
Posted by JACKSON JESIONOWSKI
Terpenes obviously smell good, but did you know they can make you feel good too?
You have heard of cannabinoids like CBD and THC. However, there’s another set of compounds that you should know about, too. They’re called terpenes. And terpenes effects could be just as important as those of cannabinoids. What are terpenes? In this article, we’ll explore these interesting compounds as well as their potential benefits when paired with CBD (cannabidiol).
The Truth About Terpenes
When you catch a whiff of hemp, you’ll likely notice that it has a strong smell. Whether it’s a skunk, pine needles, or citrus fruits, that distinct scent is thanks to the organic compounds known as terpenes.
Terpenes aren’t just found in hemp and marijuana, though—they’re naturally produced in other plants, too. From citrus fruits to pine needles, terpenes are all around us, and they determine how things taste and smell.
However, there’s much more to terpenes than meets the nose—in the hemp and cannabis plant, terpenes play a significant role in how a given cannabis strain makes us feel.
Curious to know more? Read on.
Where Do Terpenes Come From?
As we mentioned before, terpenes are found in all types of life, and they have lots of different biological functions.
In cannabis and hemp, terpenes are produced in the cannabis flower—specifically in the little orange hairs, known as trichomes, that grow on each bud.
Many plants use terpenes as a primitive form of communication. You can think of it as sort of a “chemical sign language.” Some plants use them to transmit signals to other members of their species. These are known as pheromones. Other plants use them to communicate with organisms from completely different kingdoms. For example, sweet-smelling flowers use terpenes to attract birds and insects as pollinators.
For cannabis, and hemp strains, in particular, it seems that terpenes serve several purposes at the same time. Some cannabis terpenes are used to keep insects and herbivores away, while some are used as a “sunscreen” to shield the plant from harmful UV rays.
Fun fact: Many of hemp’s terpenes are found in other plants. This is why some strains might smell like berries or lemons, while others smell like cloves or pine.
Why Do Terpenes Matter?
As pleasant as they are, hemp and cannabis terpenes don’t just provide aroma and flavor. They also play an important role in how cannabinoids affect your mind and body.
Current research supports the argument that, while the terpenes in cannabis and hemp might have therapeutic benefits on their own, their full potential is unlocked when they’re in the presence of cannabinoids (like CBD). Especially when taken orally through sublingual or CBD capsule consumption, which means that your dosage level of CBD could be impacted as well!
According to a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found that terpenes appear to complement the effects of cannabinoids, and vice versa. This phenomenon is known as the Entourage Effect, and it might explain why terpenes are so important.
Though we still have a lot to uncover, this study supports the theory that CBD hemp products are more effective when they include the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids.
Don’t just take our word for it—we encourage you to do your own research, and try a full-spectrum CBD product yourself! We’re confident you’ll come to the same conclusion.
How Do Terpenes Affect the Body?
Among cannabis and hemp enthusiasts, there’s a lot of talk about terpenes and their purported health benefits.
They’re part of aromatherapy, too—terpenes are what makes essential oils smell so good, and some say that they actually feel better after smelling them.
Many people say that certain terpenes work as anti-inflammatory agents; others claim they can help reduce anxiety. Although these people might not be wrong, we recommend that you take these statements with a grain of salt.
Terpenes are the subject of many ongoing studies. Until these studies conclude, we just don’t know much about them. In addition, the hemp and cannabis plant has hundreds of terpenes that all seem to work together. This makes the puzzle all the more complex.
We feel the same way about essential oils: right now, there just isn’t enough evidence to make solid claims. Instead, all you need to know is that terpenes seem to make the other compounds in hemp work faster.
Can Terpenes Get You High?
No—terpenes alone will not get you stoned. And CBD won’t get you high either. As far as we know, the only intoxicant in hemp and cannabis is THC, and that’s only when you consume enough.
Like we’ve already mentioned, it appears that terpenes have the largest impact in making your CBD product more effective—and even those effects still won’t be enough to get you high.
Are Terpenes Bad for You?
According to the FDA, the common terpenes in cannabis and hemp are generally recognized as safe for consumption. However, this only applies to food and oral products. We don’t know whether smoking or vaping these compounds is harmful or not.
Your best bet is a CBD oil that’s meant for oral or sublingual consumption. According to current evidence, CBD oil is perfectly safe when you take the right precautions, and there are no reports of overdosing on CBD.
As always, though, we recommend that you perform your own research before consuming anything that could put your health at risk. Because the CBD market is largely unregulated, some products may also contain harmful pesticides or fertilizers. This is why we recommend a USDA-certified organic CBD product.
A World of Possibilities
By learning more about terpenes, we can get closer to understanding hemp as a supplement. But the truth is, we’ve only scratched the surface of these compounds.
These aroma molecules contained within hemp fall on a wide spectrum of aromas, effects, and uses. Each strain of hemp contains 10 to 30 different terpenes, and they all interact with each other in unique ways.
As we get closer to understanding the complexity of hemp, breeders will have more opportunities to develop new strains that produce desired effects.
Though we have a lot to learn, we’re probably not too far off from fully unlocking the power of terpenes—and the rest of hemp’s natural compounds, too.
But until then, we can enjoy hemp just as nature intended: in its whole, natural state. Ready to give hemp a shot? Check out our full-spectrum CBD oil here.