If you have done any amount of reading about CBD or medical cannabis in general, you’ve likely heard of terpenes. These unsung heroes of cannabis sativa can be found in full and broad-spectrum CBD oils and tinctures and offer potential therapeutic effects that complement cannabidiol.
As research continues into the various naturally-occurring compounds found in hemp, more details emerge about the plants’ molecular structure and the many complimentary chemicals sourced therein. Last month, we did an overview of the main cannabinoids found in hemp. In this series, we will dive deeper into the fascinating world of plant terpenes.
What are Terpenes?
While you may not have heard of terpenes, you are likely already quite familiar with them. Pine scented cleaner, perfumes, candles, essential oils, and other everyday items often contain terpenes. There are around 20,000 of them in existence, and they are responsible for the scent of many flowers, plants, and even some insects.
Terpenes give fir trees that familiar “Christmas-time smell” and lemons their tart scent. They are responsible for the sweet aroma of lavender and fresh-cut roses. The distinct fragrances of apples, cinnamon, autumn leaves, and dill pickles can all be attributed to terpenes.
Despite the fact that terpenes exist in nature to attract or repel other species, human beings have had an ongoing love affair with these special natural aromas. In fact, our sense of smell can trigger intense memories from events many years prior. It is clear we were made to sniff things.
The Benefits of Terpenes in Cannabis
In the cannabis plant alone, there exist over 100 different terpenes. This huge number may explain why in just a few decades we have gone from a handful of marijuana and hemp strains to popular offerings with names like “banana candy,” “blue cheese,” “grape crush,” “Willie Wonka,” and “lemon haze,” among others. These unique strains got their names from familiar crossbred hybrid plants with certain aromas.
Far from being just an olfactory indulgence, terpenes, like cannabinoids, are also attributed to having an abundance of health benefits. Pinene, for example, is the terpene found in pine trees that gives them their lovely woodsy scent, but it is also present in cannabis. Used to make many household cleaners, it has antiseptic properties. It has been traditionally used as a potent natural remedy for chest colds, as an anti-inflammatory, and more.
The Future of Terpenes
As more is discovered about terpenes and their different characteristics, companies have begun listing them on the labels of certain medical cannabis and CBD products. For many people, the terpene content of a product (also called a terpene profile) is as important as the cannabinoids it contains. Over the next few weeks, we will cover some of the most popular terpenes in CBD as well as their therapeutic qualities. Stay tuned!