Health & Wellness

Terpenes and Cannabidiol—How They Work Together

By Melena Gurganus

For those that choose to give CBD a try, there are generally two options for the type of extracts they use—isolate or full-spectrum CBD products. Isolate formulas contain only CBD, while full-spectrum products have a range of other useful extracts. This is where terpenes come into play. Terpenes constitute a large part of full-spectrum CBD products and contribute to their overall effects.

What are terpenes?

In nature, terpenes can be found in the essential oils of many plants where they serve the purpose of aiding in plant defense against environmental stressors, as well as attracting insects for pollination. Different flowers and trees have varying terpene profiles, some of which are commonly used in everyday products like perfumes, cleaning solutions, and medicines.

More recently, there’s been some buzz surrounding the types of terpenes in cannabis plants. These organic compounds are frequently included within CBD products, cannabis oil, and cannabis flowers, which has led to consumers who are increasingly curious about the potential health benefits that terpenes may offer—both on their own and when combined with other cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

Terpenes work in a multitude of ways, and they can differ greatly in the tastes and smells that they bring to the table. The aromatic scent of cannabis and its extracts are commonly attributed to terpenes, which create unique variations among different cannabis strains.

Different Types of Terpenes and Their Effects

In an effort to learn more about the individual aspects of each terpene that may be found within CBD products, we’ve curated this list of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. Here you can find each terpene’s scent or flavor profiles, as well as some of their possible wellness advantages.

Beta-Caryophyllene

An anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic terpene with a strong, spicy scent that is commonly found in oregano, black pepper, and rosemary.

Bisabolol

This terpene can be found in chamomile flowers as well as several cannabis strains, and has shown promise as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibiotic, and anti-cancer agent.

Caryophyllene Oxide

Commonly found in cloves, rosemary, and sativa cannabis strains, this terpene may have valuable anti-cancer and analgesic properties, along with a scent similar to beta-caryophyllene.

Eucalyptol

Along with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, this terpene is used in many fragrances for its strong minty aroma, much like that of—you guessed it—eucalyptus.

Humulene

Also known as α-Caryophyllene, this terpene is has shown potential anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, and emits an earthy, wood-like aroma.

Limonene

This terpene has some anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, as well as a citrus scent similar to oranges or lemons.

Linalool

Offering the potential therapeutic benefit of anti-inflammation, Linalool is smells like sweet lavender with a touch of citrus and is commonly found in other plants like coriander, tomatoes, and lavender (not surprisingly).

Myrcene

Shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic benefits in cell models, myrcene also has a very earthy, natural scent and sedative properties that are believed to promote sleep.

Nerolidol

This terpene has possible antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, and antioxidant benefits, and often smells reminiscent of tree bark, but can sometimes add a citrus undertone to cannabis when high levels of this terpene are present.

Ocimene

With its antifungal and anti-inflammatory potential, this terpene is also accompanied by a woodsy and floral scent, with some citrus undertones.

Pinene

Commonly referred to as α-pinene, this terpene has a signature taste and scent that resembles pine needles and it’s also known for having anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, antioxidant, and neuroprotection benefits.

Terpinene

This antioxidant and prospective anti-microbial agent is often used as a flavoring additive for its tangy lemon taste.

Note: These proposed benefits have been observed in some scientific studies, but more clinical research is necessary to provide a more in-depth analysis of the long-term effects and potential therapeutic value of terpenes and phytocannabinoids.

Terpenes and Terpenoids—What’s the Difference?

The terms terpenes and terpenoids are often used interchangeably, although they do differ in some ways. Essentially, a terpene refers to the naturally occurring hydrocarbons produced by a plant, and a terpenoid is similar to a terpene but has been altered in some way (generally by the process of oxidation). You’ll be more likely to come across terpenoids in cannabis flowers that have been dried and cured. For CBD oil products, the terpenes will likely remain unaffected by oxidation since the plant extraction methods are designed to keep chemical compounds intact during this process.

Why Terpenes Are Important

When extracting desirable components from cannabis plants, terpenes are an inevitable part of the end product—unless you opt for isolate formulas. However, the additional plant extracts within full-spectrum products may lend a helping hand in the delivery of the potential medicinal benefits of CBD. This is due to the “entourage effect,” which many scientists believe allows multiple parts of the cannabis plant, like phytocannabinoids and terpenes, to complement one another for an improved therapeutic index.

Essentially, the entourage effect theorizes that cannabinoids and terpenes work better together in concert than when one compound is isolated for its specific properties. This theory is supported by preclinical and clinical data that indicate cannabinoids, when administered together instead of individually, are more effective at alleviating neuropathic pain.

This is why we tend to lean towards full-spectrum CBD products that include a range of different plant components rather than CBD isolate. While some people prefer isolated CBD, we find that the synergistic effect of using multiple parts of industrial hemp plants tends to yield better results among consumers. Although everyone has a different endocannabinoid system, and some users may find that they favor the effects of CBD isolate. Regardless, you should always take into account your own preferences, and choose a worthy product based on your personal experience when using CBD.

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