What are Terpenes – And Why are They Important for Full-Spectrum CBD Oils?
If you’re anyone who knows anything about cannabis, and more specifically CBD, then you have likely heard of terpenes. But, perhaps you’re not sure exactly what they are. I mean, sure we know all about cannabinoids, especially CBD, and all that they’re good for, but most of us are probably unaware of terpenes and what purpose they serve. So today we’re here to fill you in on everything there is to know about terpenes and their importance.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are the natural compounds that are responsible for the flavors, smells, and colors that are found in every plant on earth, including, of course, cannabis. What you’re sensing in fruits, meals, flowers, and even cleaning materials are terpenes. Let’s use soup as an example. Some soups can be delicate with a herbal smell, while others can smell rich and meaty – it all depends on the terpenes.
Essentially, terpenes are aromatic metabolites that can be found in the oils of all plants. There are more than 20,000 terpenes, and at least 100 of them are produced by the cannabis plant. The production of terpenoids evolved over time in plants to act as defense compounds and to attract pollinators.
Glandular trichomes – which are glands that look like small hairs that protrude from the leaves and flowers – are produced by female cannabis plants. The trichomes form a home for crucial cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. If the plants are handled delicately and the trichomes are left intact throughout collection and processing, the end result is excellent cannabis that has strong and distinct smells, flavors, and colors.
The production of terpenes is largely dependant on abiotic factors such as humidity, light intensity, and temperature; these factors are synthesized in response to stress. This is the reason that medical cannabis producers put a lot of emphasis on the standardization of growing conditions for their strains.
Some of the latest studies have found that the terpenes found in cannabis don’t only affect how a strain will taste and smell, but more importantly they may determine how a strain will affect your body and mind. In fact, terpenes are known to have a unique effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), since each type delivers a different sensory experience and targets different conditions. For instance, there are some terpenes that may promote alertness and focus, while others can provide relief from pain and anxiety.
Terpenes in Cannabis
Anecdotal evidence has found that different strains of cannabis have different types of terpenes. This is why different strains offer different flavors, aromas, and benefits. Below is a list of some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, as well as some benefits that are thought to be associated with each.
- Myrcene: This is thought to be one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. It’s useful as an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, and a sedative. It is often found in high levels in indica strains, which contributes to the tired/stoned feeling
- Limonene: Also commonly found in cleaning materials and perfumes, limonene is known to relieve stress, elevate mood, and it also has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It also improves absorption through the skin, which is why it’s commonly used in tinctures, ointments, and other topicals
- Linalool: Widely known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and stress-relieving effects. Great for balancing out the anxious side effects of THC, making it useful for treating anxiety and psychosis.
- Humulene: Best known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to suppress appetite. Commonly found in hops, cloves, and basil
Terpenes vs. Terpenoids
Since we’ve mentioned both terpenes and terpenoids, let’s look at the difference between the two. Think of terpenes as the natural “on-the-growing-plant” version of terpenoids, whereas terpenoids are transformed by drying out and curing the cannabis flower. Ultimately, the drying process changes the way that the molecules transform, and therefore taste.
Terpenoids are most often used outside of cannabis for their aromatic qualities; it’s how we create essential oils, spices, and perfumes. However, an increasing amount of research is showing that terpenoids play a significant role in the medicinal properties of cannabinoids.
The latest research has shown that terpenes not only significantly influence the smell and flavor of buds, but may also increase, change, or lower the duration and intensity of the effects of a specific strain. Yes, that’s right, terpenes do more than just add delicious flavor to your buds. They are directly associated with the unique feeling of each strain.
Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
Plenty of studies have found that terpenes extracted from cannabis work together to help cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, to pass through the bloodstream more easily and help to lower the blood-to-brain barrier. In other words, you should feel more or less of the effects of a specific strain based on the terpenes that are found in it.
But, even more impressive is the fact that, when used in combination with CBD, the terpenes extracted from cannabis are thought to create stronger effects than CBD alone. Because terpenes have their own medicinal properties, they work together to either amp up or chill out some of the dominant effects of other cannabinoids. This is known as the “entourage effect” because of the way different components interact with each other, by enhancing or downplaying the end effects.
If the terpenes and cannabinoids work together towards the same goal, the effects will be stronger. However, if they counterbalance each other, as they would in a group, the effect, on the whole, is muted.
The main concept of the entourage effect is that it’s the harmonization of every compound in cannabis that produces its beneficial qualities. So, THC alone isn’t what gives symptom relief; it’s all the compounds working together.
Terpenes and Full-Spectrum CBD Oils
Full-spectrum CBD means that most of the terpenes and cannabinoids available stay intact during processing. This makes a big difference in how the body receives CBD. In recent years, there has been a lot of interest in CBD isolate, which contains only one isolated cannabinoid. However, many people don’t realize that the entourage effect is not present in an isolate. In fact, 150 mg of single-molecule CBD is not equivalent to 150 mg of whole-plant CBD extract.
Processing full-spectrum CBD is most effective when extracting the oil from premium hemp flower, rather than stems, seeds, or stalks. This is because the flower contains the highest quality and most effective natural cannabinoids.
The hemp plant contains 120 different terpenes and in various quantities. The variety and amount of terpenes that are in a bottle of full-spectrum CBD will depend on the hemp quality and the method of processing. The good news is that lab tests are able to analyze the content of cannabinoids, as well as the presence of terpenes.
But why are terpenes so important for full-spectrum CBD oils? Well for starters, terpenes are natural molecules which have the ability to enhance our health and well-being. When combined in full-spectrum oil with other cannabinoids, the benefits are multiplied, thanks to the entourage effect.
All terpenes are seen as safe by health and food authorities in all countries. Even small concentrations of carefully selected natural terpenes can be beneficial to an array of mental and physical conditions. Research has proven that terpenes found in hemp enhance the therapeutic effects of CBD, THC, and other compounds.
In case you haven’t caught on yet, the importance of terpenes in full-spectrum CBD oils comes down to the entourage effect. Terpenes are healthy for both plants and people. A report published by Dr. Ethan Russo in September 2011 discussed the wide-array of therapeutic qualities of terpenes, which are often lacking in CBD-only products.
Cannabinoids and terpenes both enhance cortical activity, kill respiratory pathogens, and increase blood flow. According to Dr. Russo’s report, the interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes could produce synergy with respect to treatment of depression, anxiety, pain, addiction, inflammation, and fungal or bacterial infections. Essentially, cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce the best possible effects.
Final Thought on Terpenes and Why They are Important to Full-spectrum CBD Oil
Terpenes have a lot more to offer than just flavor and scent. Many people are unaware that they also have a wide range of therapeutic benefits. As much as CBD can be consumed as a single supplement, you stand to gain more from the interaction of all hemp compounds, thanks to the entourage effect. As terpenes interact together with cannabinoids, they magnify the health benefits and also create a stable balance of nutrients in the body.