Terpenes are organic compounds found in all plants which can enhance the effects of cannabinoids through the entourage effect, as described by the British Journal of Pharmacology. They can also add to the consumers experience with CBD products, through a tailored terpene profile aimed at: mood, calming anxiety and stress relief.
A closer look at what terpenes are
Terpenes are a class of organic compounds produced in all plants and even in certain insects. The use of terpenes within plants has been linked to their strong smell which can help protect plants. One way is to attract the predators of herbivores and parasites.
The words terpenes, terpenoids and isoprenoids are often used to mean the same thing, however there are differences in these terms.
The distinction between these terms is:
- Terpenes are hydrocarbons
- Terpenoids (or Isoprenoids) are compounds with an additional oxygen molecule, perhaps through denaturation..
Although terpenes do not interact with the endocannabinoid system they do indirectly have an effect through acting as a middle agent. This enhances the effect between cannabinoids and the ECS, which is known as the entourage effect.
What is the difference between terpenes and essential oils?
Since both terpenes and essential oils are known for the smells, one can be mistaken that both are the same thing. However, the key difference is that essential oil are made from a number of terpenes and aromatic compounds, whereas terpenes are singular in nature.
Terpenes effect the makeup of essential oils to give a unique set of characteristics ranging from: smell profiles that can effect mood, for therapeutic and medicinal uses.
Lets take a look at some of the main terpene compounds:
a-Pinene – Sharp, sweet, pine, inflammation and asthma.
Linalool – Floral, citrus, spice, insomnia, sleep, depression & anxiety.
Caryophyllene – Pepper, wood, spice, antioxidant, muscle spasm & pain.
Myrcene – Musk, clove, herbal, citrus, antiseptic & anti-fungal.
Limonene – Citrus, lemon, orange, anti-depression & anti-anxiety.
Humulene – Woody, earthy, Anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial.
With credit to leafly, here are the major terpenes and additional information:
It is important to understand the chemistry of terpenes and their interactions with each other in order to identified profiles required to help end users get a better experience using CBD products.
For example terpenes may negatively effect the taste of CBD edible, distorting any existing flavours.
They can act positively to products such as CBD e-liquid juice, adding to the vape experience similar to smoking cannabis.
One thing to not is that CBD isolate products will not contain terpenes, unless they have been added back in. This isolate version will not benefit from the entourage effect similar to full spectrum CBD oils due to no terpenes being present.