If you have experience with CBD, you may have heard the term “terpenes” thrown around. Terpenes are found in full-spectrum CBD products, and offer up a wide variety of potential health benefits. However, terpenes aren’t limited to just the cannabis plant—you’ll find them just about everywhere in nature.
What are Terpenes?
Before diving into terpenes in nature, it is important to establish what they actually are. Terpenes are found mostly in plants, but are found in animals and insects as well. They are a naturally occurring hydrocarbon, and around 20,000 terpenes exist in the world—making them one of the largest groups of naturally occurring products. Of these thousands of terpenes, over 200 can be found in the cannabis plant.
Terpenes are responsible for a wide variety of different tastes and smells. In the cannabis plant, for example, the specific scent is due to the unique terpenes found in different strains.
While terpenes add to the aromatic and taste experience of certain plants, they also serve important functions.
In nature, terpenes help plants by serving as a defense against environmental stressors like parasites, predators, or bacteria, and also attracting insects for pollination. A plant will have its own unique terpene profile that helps serve its needs. Terpenes can also deliver many health benefits, some of which will be outlined below.
Since thousands of terpenes exist in nature, it can be hard to narrow down to just a few. The following, however, are some of the most common terpenes found in nature that you likely interact with on a regular basis.
Limonene is most commonly found in fruit rinds and peppermint, and is the second-most common terpene found in nature. It is also common in many cannabis strains. The scent is citrusy, and can promote an uplift in overall mood.
In nature, limonene serves as an insecticide for plants to fight off insects. Limonene has antioxidant effects, and is also antimicrobial. The terpene has also been shown to reduce anxiety in mice who consumed it both orally and through inhalation, and even reduced OCD-type behaviors.
Linalool can be found in lavender, coriander, and many scented herbs and flowers. It is noted by a floral, lavender, and slightly spicy scent and taste. There are over 200 species of plants that produce linalool. These primarily are found in the Lamiaceae (mint, lavender, thyme), Lauraceae (cinnamon, rosewood, laurels), and Rutaceae (citrus fruits) families. It can also be found in many cannabis plants.
Myrcene can be found in thyme, lemongrass, mangoes, hops, bay leaves, and eucalyptus. It is also the most common terpene found in the cannabis plant, though the amount present depends on the strain. The scent is best described as earthy and musky.
Pinene is found in pine needles, basil, parsley, rosemary, dill, and even some citrus fruits. The scent and taste resembles that of pine needles and fir. Pinene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and also has the potential to fight against cancer.
The terpene may also counteract the effects of THC. It can serve as a bronchodilator (meaning it opens up the airways), and may be therapeutic for those with asthma.
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