What Are Terpenes in CBD Products and Why Do They Matter?
All plants contain a complex mix of phytochemicals. Among these compounds are terpenes, which give many plants, including hemp, their distinct smells. An increasingly interesting aspect of terpenes is the growing body of knowledge supporting their health benefits. Whether you’re new to the world of CBD or looking to expand your knowledge of how it interacts with your body, understanding what terpenes are, their benefits and why they’re important can help you choose the best CBD product for your wellness needs.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are the organic compounds that are responsible for giving plants their specific aromas and flavors. As the primary constituents of essential oils naturally derived from botanical sources, terpenes are what make, say, a lemon smell like lemon, and lavender like lavender. Terpenes play a range of significant roles for plants — certain terpenes can protect plants by repelling grazers, pests and pathogens, while others help attract pollinators.
Many plants, including Cannabis sativa (the plant that CBD and THC are derived from), can contain a various array of terpenes. Terpene profiles are generally what drive strain preferences amongst connoisseurs. These preferences may be due to the aroma or the effects. For example, an OG Kush will have a distinct earthy pine and sour lemon scent coupled with woody undertones. Terpenes found in this strain are the relaxing terpineol, the uplifting limonene, and the anti-inflammatory yet sedative myrcene. If you’re in need of a relaxing strain that will put you in a good mood, OG Kush can’t be beaten. In cannabis, the terpenes are primarily found in unfertilized female flowers. They’re synthesized inside the glandular trichomes — the sticky, hair-like growths on the plant that are often likened to little “factories” of important plant compounds — and increase in production depending on factors such as weather, light, or nutrition.
Common Types of Terpenes and Their Benefits
Nature has the ability to produce many thousands of different terpenes that create distinct aromatic profiles as well as promote health benefits when applied topically, ingested, or inhaled by humans. Similar to cannabinoid science, there is a long way to go with the research before we can make definitive conclusions. That said, there are some exciting possibilities around potential benefits. These benefits can include supporting rehabilitation and recovery, stress management, improved focus, better sleep and better energy levels.
Some of the most common terpenes and their benefits include:
- Eucalyptol: found in the eucalyptus plant. Early research finds this terpene may help with many inflammatory related issues, the precursor or cause of illness.
- Beta-caryophyllene: Also found in cloves, rosemary and hops. This terpene is especially interesting as it has been found to activate some of the same receptors activated by cannabinoids, potentially resulting in beneficial synergies. Early research has identified beta-caryophyllene as a potential analgesic and therefore may support pain reduction.
- Alpha and Beta Pinene: Also found in pine needles, rosemary and basil. Early research supports encouraging potential benefits around cognitive wellness, stress and inflammation.
- D-Limonene: These are found in abundance in citrus plants, such as lemons, oranges and grapefruit and are often found in dietary supplements or as a fragrance in cosmetics. Advancing research suggests the possibility of multiple cognitive and anti-inflammatory benefits with this terpene.
- Humulene: Also found in hops and wood. Closely related to Beta-caryophyllene, this terpene has been known to promote sedative, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.
- Myrcene: Oftentimes the most prominent terpene found in cannabis and often associated with “couch lock.” It is also found in mangos, lemongrass, thyme and hops. Early research has focused upon its potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. The calming effects of this terpene can be quite noticeable.
- Linalool: Also found in lavender and birch bark. Noting strong anti-inflammatory effects in mice studies, this terpene has been found to have promising therapeutic benefits in cognitive wellness. When taken in CBD products, you may feel the effects of relaxation and calmness, or find it helpful with minor aches and pains.
The Relationship Between Terpenes and CBD
Terpenes and CBD (or cannabidiol) are both phytochemicals that the hemp plant produces in its trichomes. While both are non-intoxicating (i.e., they won’t get you high), terpenes and CBD have different effects on the human body — CBD, as a cannabinoid, interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) and stimulates specific ECS receptors located on organs throughout the body whereas terpenes can have similar, different or complementary interactions with the body and brain.
Studies have shown that terpenes and cannabinoids, like CBD, may have greater, synergistic benefits when you take them together — a cascading of beneficial effects that can be more powerful then when either is used individually. In fact, the presence of terpenes can even enhance cannabinoid activity, so taking a CBD product that is full spectrum (an extract that contains many of the beneficial compounds of the hemp plant, including up to 0.3% THC) have been found to be more effective than taking an isolate (where everything except for the CBD itself is stripped away).
In one study conducted in 2018, a group of epilepsy patients were given either a CBD extract mixed with other cannabinoids and terpenes, or a pure CBD extract with no other compounds. It showed that 71 percent of the patients who took the mixed preparation experienced fewer seizures, while only 46 percent of the patients who took the pure CBD extract experienced relief.
Raphael Mechoulum, the first scientist to isolate THC from the cannabis plant in 1964, referred to the individual and combined actions of the cannabis plant compounds as a “pharmacological treasure trove.
Gaard Labs – Advancing Terpenes in CBD Products
In understanding the potential benefits and synergies of cannabinoids and terpenes, the analogy of keys and locks are oftentimes used. Each of the cannabinoids and terpenes is like a key that unlocks certain therapeutic benefits. With this, we can understand how more keys can result in more potential benefits. Gaard Labs has a 5-member medical and science team focused on unlocking these benefits.
Formulating terpene rich products requires a deep understanding of cannabis, the latest science and advanced manufacturing techniques. It also requires a deep understanding of the supply chain to ensure product safety. Rooted in science, the Gaard Labs products will often contain anywhere from 5 – 20 terpenes. Its topicals boast up to 3,500MG of proprietary terpene blends next to 1000MG of cannabinoids. The oral sprays contain up to 300MG of terpenes. Their advanced formulations combining purified terpene isolates with organic, GMO-free full spectrum hemp extract, manufactured in GMP certified facilities, support safe and consistently effective products.
Gaard Labs is on to something exciting in the CBD relief and wellness sector. It’s differentiated approach and backed by 100-plus combined years of expertise in the medical and cannabis fields is going to be exciting to watch as they continue to develop their product range. You can easily integrate their products into your recovery or wellness routine.
MedicalJane – Terpenes
Cannabis Tech – What is a Trichome?
Plant Science – “Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans”
Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases – “Alpha-pinene exerts neuroprotective effects via anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic mechanisms in a rat model of focal cerebral ischemia-reperfusion”
Journal of Food Biochemistry – “D-limonene: A multifunctional compound with potent therapeutic effects”
Nutraceuticals – “Humulene”
Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management – “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain”
International Journal of Molecular Sciences – “Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System”
Current Neuropharmacology – “The ‘Entourage Effect’: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders”