Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced by a variety of plants and by some insects. They often have a strong odor and are responsible for color1. They are necessary to perform diverse functions like attracting insects for pollination, protecting plants from infections, fungi, and so on. Terpenes also influence various receptors in the human body.
There are hundreds of terpenes and thousands of terpenoid compounds. A number of them are found in the cannabis plant. Recent studies show that they comprise a completely different class of active compounds that may play an important role as the cannabinoids2.
Terpenes vs CBD oil
Terpenes and CBD oil are very closely related, but they have some significant differences. Firstly, they are compounds of the cannabis plant. However, CBD is a cannabinoid, and terpenes are found in the essential oils of the plant.
CBD oil is a compound that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but it does not cause psychoactive effects. CBD can be used to help with various problems, including anxiety, pain, seizures, etc.
Terpenes are the molecules that give the plant its pungent scent. They are produced by the resin glands on the plant’s trichomes. They can be found as sticky crystals on the leaves.
In short, CBD oil is the main ingredient that makes CBD products work. Terpenes are additional compounds that do not produce any effect on their own. At the same time, terpenes combined with CBD result in the phenomenon called “entourage effect” and enhance CBD activity3.
Full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD
Full-spectrum CBD products contain all of the cannabinoids and healthy components of the plant, including flavonoids, fatty acids and some of the terpenes. The variety and amount of terpenes in full-spectrum CBD depends on the product quality and the method of processing. Broad-spectrum CBD contains most of the compounds from the original hemp plant.
Most common terpenes and their properties
Different terpenes are combined with CBD to produce different effects. Here are the most common terpenes found in CBD-related products.
- It is effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Also, it helps with skin problems when applied topically4.
- This terpene is known as a muscle relaxant, and it helps to fight with pain and inflammation. Some studies show it has a powerful sedative effect5.
- It has anti-seizure effects. Also, limonene terpene may improve mood and relieves heartburn. Due to its strong citrus odor, limonene is a compound of many cleaning and cosmetic products6.
- It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Some studies found pinene terpene is a strong bronchodilator7.
- This terpene has shown anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Also, it can be used to decrease appetite8.
Anyway, more researches need to be done to better understand the interaction between CBD and terpenes. Scientists are still investigating how CBD and terpenes combination can cause a better therapeutic effect.
- Maimone T. Classic Terpene Syntheses. https://www.scripps.edu/baran/images/grpmtgpdf/Maimone_Oct_05.pdf.
- Baron EP. Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science. Headache. 2018;58(7):1139-1186. doi:10.1111/head.13345
- Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
- de Groot A. Linalool Hydroperoxides. Dermatitis. 2019;30(4):243. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000471
- Myrcene. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/31253. Accessed November 12, 2019.
- Sun J. D-Limonene: safety and clinical applications. Altern Med Rev J Clin Ther. 2007;12(3):259-264.
- Booth JK, Page JE, Bohlmann J. Terpene synthases from Cannabis sativa. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(3):e0173911. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0173911
- Corey EJ, Hamanaka Ernest. Total synthesis of humulene. J Am Chem Soc. 1967;89(11):2758-2759. doi:10.1021/ja00987a058