Terpenes are aromatic oils that, in the cannabis plant, contribute to the aroma and flavor of a distinctive plant. But they also work to bring health benefits either on their own, in concert with each other, as well as with the major cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as the many minor cannabinoids.
Some CBD product manufacturers are now able to add specific terpenes to their products including topicals, beverages, edibles, oils, tinctures, vaping oils and others to enhance their functional properties and increase the therapeutic appeal of their product lines. They can also be used to enhance the flavors of CBD products.
Cannabis contains more than 200 terpenes. Some are more prevalent than others. But terpenes are not unique to the cannabis plant. They naturally occurring in many different plants – conifers in particular – to either repel predators or attract pollinators.
While terpenes are found in high concentrations in cannabis, they help create the characteristic scent of many floral substances, including pine, lavender, orange peel, rosemary and a variety of flowers and tree woods.
Some terpenes are able to engage the endocannabinoid system in a similar way that cannabinoids do. Both substances distinguish themselves in the way that the human body absorbs and uses the compounds. As scientists continue studying terpenes, some have found that those in the cannabis plant can interact with cannabinoids, helping to give them therapeutic properties for CBD consumers. Examples include:
- Pinene, a highly versatile terpene and the most common in the plant world, with relief properties for anxiety, pain and inflammation.
- Limonene, which as attributed with delivering stress and anxiety relief.
- Myrcene, believed to promote calm.
- Terpinolene, delivering an uplifting effect.
- Caryophyllene, bringing anti-inflammatory properties.
Many variables can affect the ultimate terpene profile of the same plant. Consider that two roots of the same plant, one grown indoors versus the other grown outdoors, can produce different terpene profiles depending on growing temperature, sunlight, nutrients and soil.
As scientists continue to study terpenes, look for them to play more specified and tailored roles in CBD products.