What Are Terpenes in CBD Oil?
If you are familiar with the world of CBD, you’ve probably heard the word “terpenes” mentioned a few times. It is usually featured in the description boxes for products you buy online or boasted on the label of various CBD oils. Alongside the terms “full-spectrum” and “broad-spectrum”, companies seem quite proud to brag about the terpene content of their CBD products.
However, if you don’t know a lot about botany or even just CBD, then you might not be aware of what terpenes actually are. As is the case with anything, it’s important that you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. It’s a good idea to research the ingredients of your CBD oil before you start using it every day.
In this article, we will take a look at what terpenes are and what role they play in your CBD oil, as well as whether you really need them at all?
What are terpenes?
Terpenes, sometimes called terpenoids, are molecular compounds in plants that give them their various tastes and scents. The flavor profile of different strains of cannabis is all down to terpenes, but they also feature in other plants, too. These volatile compounds exist in the resin glands of the plant, where CBD and THC – among other cannabinoids – can also be found.
It is estimated that there are around 200 terpenes found in the cannabis sativa plant. However, only a few of these appear in substantial amounts.
Terpenes evolved in plants to help them survive: Certain smells can deter predators such as animal grazers; other terpenes help to prevent fungus. But they’re not just healthy for plants.
In fact, terpenes are a huge deal in aromatherapy. Since different terpenes have different healing properties, they are put into essential oils to achieve a range of effects.
Why are there terpenes in my CBD oil?
Any products that say “full-spectrum” or “broad-spectrum” on the label will usually include terpenes. The questions consumers usually want answered are how the terpenes managed to sneak into their CBD oil, and why manufacturers would leave them in there. We will be answering both of these questions below.
Although there are many ways to extract CBD from the Cannabis sativa plant, most companies nowadays use supercritical CO2 extraction. This entails passing carbon dioxide heated to a supercritical state over plant material. Whether this be hemp or marijuana, the supercritical CO2 behaves like a solvent to sap a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plant.
The reason this is the preferred method is because it produces a CBD oil that doesn’t damage the integrity of the cannabinoids and terpenes. Despite being expensive, it is the safest and most efficient extraction method.
Terpenes are created in the resin sacs of the plant, which is the same place cannabinoids are made. As a result, you can’t really extract one without the other.
That being said, it is possible to filter terpenes out of the product to create a CBD isolate. If this is the case, why would manufacturers want to leave them in there?
The entourage effect
CBD oil works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This consists of a network of cannabinoid receptors, which sit on the surface of cells and listen out for changes in conditions around the body. When something is off balance, endocannabinoids are synthesised (created) to alert the cells via the endocannabinoid receptors, and alterations are made in order to restore the body to its normal state.
In other words, the ECS is a vital system because it maintains homeostasis – it keeps our body in balance. CBD comes in here because it can encourage the creation of endocannabinoids, helping our body to heal itself naturally by stimulating the endocannabinoid system.
But what about terpenes? It turns out that terpenes may also be able to interact with the ECS in some way or another. A 2008 study conducted by Jürg Gertsch suggested that beta-caryophyllene is able to bind with the CBD receptor. Gerstch described it as a “dietary cannabinoid.”
However, it is thought that only beta-caryophyllene binds directly with the ECS. Instead, other terpenes contribute to the entourage effect. If you don’t know what that is, it refers to the phenomenon in which cannabinoids work synergistically. Basically, they’re stronger when they are together.
Terpenes are also a part of this, not just cannabinoids. In 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo compiled a report in the British Journal of Pharmacology which suggested that terpenoids provide benefits which are lacking in “CBD-only” products.
So, as it turns out, full-spectrum products might be healthier for you!
What do terpenes do?
Since there is such a huge range of terpenes out there, it’s hard to generalize about what they all do. Instead, let’s take a look at the characteristics of a few of the most common ones.
- Smell/Flavor: Borneol possesses a scent that is somewhere between menthol and pine.
- Found in: Cinnamon and wormwood
- Effects: Can be used as a sedative.
- Conditions: With a sedative effect, Borneol is ideal for those suffering from sleep disorders.
- Smell/Flavor: Think of a spicy, peppery clove scent with a hint of sweetness, and that’s caryophyllene.
- Found in: Clove oil.
- Effects: Can be used as an anti-inflammatory or an analgesic.
- Conditions: Although it is a good pain reliever, caryophyllene can also be used for those suffering from potassium ion channel disorders.
- Smell/Flavor: A minty, spicy combination characterizes cineole.
- Found in: Rosemary and eucalyptus
- Effects: Can be used as a stimulant.
- Conditions: Those suffering from neurological deficiencies can make use of cineole.
- Smell/Flavor: Delta3Carene possesses a sweet scent with notes of pine and cedar.
- Found in: Rosemary and, unsurprisingly, pine and cedar.
- Effects: Reduces excess liquid in eyes, ears and throat; reduces menstrual flow rate.
- Conditions: Those suffering from otolaryngologic disorders or menstrual disorders can benefit from Delta3Carene.
- Smell/Flavor: Limonene possesses a citrusy smell with hints of rosemary and peppermint.
- Found in: As its name might give away, limonene is in the rind of many citrus fruits.
- Effects: Can be used as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and an anti-depressant.
- Conditions: Its anti-bacterial effects make it good for treating infections, but it can also be used to combat symptoms of depression.
- Smell/Flavor: A floral, citrusy scent that smells a little like candied spice.
- Found in: Lavendar
- Effects: Can be used as a sedative or an anti-anxiety.
- Conditions: Its properties mean it can be used against anxiety disorders and insomnia.
- Smell/Flavor: The smell is reminiscent of clove, citrus, mango, mint and hops
- Found in: Cannabis
- Effects: Can be used as an antimicrobial, antiseptic, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and a muscle relaxant.
- Conditions: This huge range of properties makes myrcene ideal for infections, heart conditions, depression, and pain
- Smell/Flavor: The scent of pinene is – you guessed it – pines, which hints of rosemary, parsley and hops
- Found in: Turpentine
- Effects: Enhances mental focus, expands the airways, and can be used as a topical antiseptic
- Conditions: Those suffering from ADHD and asthma can benefit from pinene.
- Smell/Flavor: Floral, lilac, citrus, apple, orange
- Found in: Perfumes and fragrant soaps.
- Effects: Can be used as a sedative.
- Сonditions: Terpineol is ideal for treating insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
Terpenes: Final thoughts
Now that you know more about the terpenes in CBD oil, you will better be able to make an informed decision about the products you are buying. If you are buying CBD oil to treat a specific condition, it may be a good idea to look at what terpenes are contained in the oil to see just how beneficial it may be.
If you are looking for a product free of terpenes, CBD isolates are still an option. That being said, evidence suggests that a CBD oil containing a range of cannabinoids and terpenes would be more beneficial to your health.