what are terpenes and how do they affect cbd?

Terpenes — the universal language between plants, bacteria, fungi and humans. They’re currently the most buzzed-about topic in the CBD world. But what exactly are they, and how do they affect your CBD? They are a diverse class of aromatic compounds naturally produced by plants as a way to attract pollinators or deter predators. As it turns out, terpenes have a significant influence on the effects your CBD will produce. They have such an impact that you’ll definitely want to choose CBD products with terpenes over those without them.

Terpenes aren’t just for plants, though. We can all naturally understand the way that terpenes communicate through aroma and taste. For example, the terpene a-pinene is what gives coniferous forests a sharp, sweet and refreshing aroma. Research has found that using pine essential oils in aromatherapy can bring about a sense of alertness. 

But let’s back up a little bit and find out what terpenes are, and why they are so important to high-quality CBD.  

the diverse terpenes of cannabis


One plant that’s rich in terpenes is the cannabis plant. In cannabis, terpenes are to credit for the sticky texture and strong aromas that each strain has to offer. There are several factors that can influence the terpene profile of a plant— including climate, time of year at harvest, age of the plant at harvest, and so on. Cannabis synthesizes and secretes terpenes from the same glands where therapeutic cannabinoids CBD and THC are produced. So, while cannabinoids are highly recognized for their therapeutic potential, terpenes are showing that they may play a bigger part in the therapeutic effects of cannabis than we thought.

Scientists have found over 100 different terpenes in the cannabis plant. Here is a list of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis.

LIMONENE
Named for its citrus aroma, limonene is another common cannabis terpene. This one is a great choice when you need a pick-me-up, and it has serious mood-boosting powers. Studies have also found limonene to be highly bioavailable with 70% human intake upon ingestion.

LINALOOL
This terpene is best known for creating lavender’s signature relaxing aroma, and is also quite common in cannabis. CBD containing linalool is sure to help you get a good night’s rest. It’s been shown to possess soothing properties because of its modulatory activity on glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems.

A-PINENE
The most widely encountered terpene found in nature, appearing in conifers and innumerable plant essential oils. The most compelling aspect of this compound is its newfound potential to support memory. It is believed by some researchers that it has the ability to counteract short-term memory loss induced by THC consumption.

BETA-CARYOPHYLLENE
The only compound known to directly activate cannabinoid receptors that isn't a cannabinoid. Beta-caryophyllene is a full agonist of the CB2 receptor sites primarily located on immune cells. That means that caryophyllene-rich CBD will have generally stronger effects than CBD products that lack it.

MYRCENE
A highly soothing terpene that’s currently being used as a sleep aid in Germany. It’s thought that the calming effects may be the cause of the “couch-lock” phenomenon of physical sedation that is commonly described by recreational cannabis users.

HUMULENE
Humulene is another terpene known for its sleep-promoting properties. It’s known to be anti-bacterial and may help soothe sore muscles as well. Commonly found throughout several different plant species, humulene is responsible for the hoppy aroma released when hops steep.

BISABOLOL
Found in german chamomile, honey, and apples, bisabolol has a pleasantly warm aroma. While it’s known to possess a myriad of beneficial properties such as antioxidant and antimicrobial, it has also been found to express enhancements to the skin’s absorption of other substances. 

the synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes


We’ve only just scratched the surface at all of the different terpenes that are found in nature and in cannabis. As you can tell, they all either have similar or vastly different characteristics which can greatly affect the way that they interact with the body.

Scientists used to believe that terpenes only influenced the body through olfactory processing. It was easy to make that assumption since aromas are known to have an indirect effect on mood. Therefore, terpenes were thought to trigger olfactory sensations, thus affecting emotions.

While olfactory sensations may play a part in terpenes effect on our body and mind, it is now believed that terpenes directly modulate the behavior of brain cells. We’ve also discovered that this modulating effect is enhanced with the help of cannabinoids. The synergistic amplification of terpenoids and cannabinoids working together is referred to as the entourage effect. 

the entourage effect

The entourage effect can be described as the reaction between the interaction of all the hemp plants’ cannabinoids and terpenes. Terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids and phytochemicals to enhance the therapeutic effects that they have on the body.

In a 2011 study conducted by a board-certified neurologist and pioneer in cannabis research, Dr. Ethan B. Russo, he states that “a better future via cannabis phytochemistry may be an achievable goal through further research of the entourage effect. [The entourage effect] may help fulfill [this versatile plants’] promise as a pharmacological treasure trove.”

To learn more, check out our blog post here where we dive deep into the intricacies of the entourage effect

terpenes in your cbd products


It should be pretty clear by now that there are huge benefits to taking CBD products loaded with all those naturally occurring terpenes. However, finding CBD that contains terpenes can be a bit of a challenge.

As CBD is often extracted from hemp plants and isolated, most of the terpene content gets intentionally left behind in processing. Even when CBD producers try to maintain some of the terpenes, it doesn’t always work. Terpenes are volatile and easily damaged, so the high heat and long processing time typically required to extract CBD from hemp plants destroy a lot of the terpenes before they make it into your CBD.

Pachamama doesn’t let that happen, though. We use a proprietary extraction method that significantly reduces the amount of time that our hemp spends in processing. By doing this, we ensure our CBD extracts are exceptionally rich in terpenes and have a host of other super-beneficial and naturally occurring compounds found in hemp.

If you do want to start taking advantage of terpenes in your CBD, be on the lookout for full spectrum CBD products. These are products that bring CBD together with all of the other compounds found in hemp, allowing you to take advantage of the entourage effect and feel your best.

Get terpene packed CBD, here.

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