Home » What are Terpenes in Cannabis?

If you’ve read about the entourage effect in cannabis, you know that terpenes play an integral part in the benefits of CBD oil. If you don’t know what the entourage effect is, click here to read about it

So what are terpenes and why do they matter?

Terpenes are important because they work synergistically with the primary phytocannabinoids in cannabis plants: THC and CBD. Terpenes have their own unique therapeutic benefits as well.

Terpenes are plant essential oils and they exist in all plants, flowers, and trees. There are 200 individual terpenes found in cannabis. The terpenes are responsible for the smell, taste, and color of cannabis. You know that unmistakable smell of some alleyways in Amsterdam? That’s due to the terpenes in cannabis. And if you’ve ever practiced aromatherapy or know what it is, you know that the aromas of different plants are dependent on their terpenes.

There are many different varieties of cannabis plants and each variety has different concentrations of terpenes. The terpenes are what give cannabis varieties their characteristics – this is why terpenes are called the “fingerprints of the cannabis plant.”

You know how cannabis varieties have quirky names like “Sour Diesel” or “Blue Dream”? Well, that’s exactly what we are talking about. Sour Diesel, a particularly famous and pungent variety (one of the author’s favorites!) gets its characteristics from its terpene profile. And the only way to truly decipher authentic Sour Diesel from an imposter with the same name is to get a terpene analysis done.

See terpenes are genetic, and genetics don’t lie when it comes to identification. Think of it the same way as you would a pregnancy test or DNA sample.

Important Terpenes You Should Know About

There are about 200 unique terpenes in cannabis. Here are four of the most common found in cannabis and plants in general: limonene, B-caryophyllene, linalool, and B-myrcene.

In addition to cannabis, limonene is found in citrus rinds, caraway seeds, and rosemary. Limonene provides a spicy and citrus aroma. Think of the sharpness of oranges and lemons – that’s limonene. Limonene is thought to have anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety effects. Limonene functions synergistically with CBD, CBG, and THC. Limonene is considered to work with CBD for enhanced anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects, enhances the anti-cancer effects of CBD and CBG, and works with THC to combat gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

B-caryophyllene is a terpene often found in CBD-rich varieties of cannabis. It’s also found in black pepper, cloves, and hops. B-caryophyllene has a woody, spicy aroma. B-caryophyllene is thought to be anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and anti-fungal. B-caryophyllene enhances the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and the gastric cell protection of THC. 

Linalool is a precursor ingredient to the formation of vitamin E. It’s found in lavender, birch, and rosewood. Linalool’s fragrance is floral, citrusy, and spicy. Linalool is calming, pain-relieving, and can help fight acne. Linalool is synergistic with CBD in reliving pain and anxiety. With THC, linalool enhances sedation and pain relief. One of the most important properties of CBD is its anti-convulsant effects. Linalool contributes to the anti-convulsant effect along with THC, CBDV, and THCV.

B-myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis plants. However it’s not always found in hemp, but it really depends on the hemp variety. B-myrcene is also found in mangos, hops, and lemongrass. Earthy and fruity would be the best way to describe its aroma. B-myrcene is anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxing, and sedating. B-myrcene enhances the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD and CBG. 

Why Do Terpenes Matter?

Terpenes are important because they can help you pick the right kind of CBD product for your use.

Because of the entourage effect, it’s not just the CBD concentration of the product you’re using that matters. You need to consider what terpenes are in there as well. This is why it’s so important to see a full lab analysis of the CBD oil you’re using (called “labs” for short).

Let me tell you one thing: if a company won’t show you recent labs of their CBD oil, you need to RUN and find a new company! If that’s the only thing you learn from this post, then my job is done. I can rest easy knowing that you understand the significance of labs.

Not only are labs important for accountability in terms of pesticide and mold content of your CBD oil, you also need to make sure the terpene content is up to par — or that it even has terpenes at all! More on that point later.

Let’s say you are using CBD hemp oil for its anti-inflammatory effects. Well than you better make sure the labs of your product show high concentrations of B-caryophyllene and B-myrcene. The same goes for limonene and linalool if you’re using CBD for anxiety. 

The terpene content can alter how a CBD oil makes you feel. Let’s say one brand makes you sleepy while the same amount of another brand gets you up and ready for the day. It’s likely not just the CBD but the terpene content that’s contributing to the difference in effects. Once you know which kind of terpenes work best for you, you know exactly what to look for when buying new CBD products. This is why labs are so important!

Now I want to cover one of the number one reasons for the importance of labs. Remember when I wrote about the best CBD hemp oil? CBD hemp oil made from domestic hemp varieties grown solely for the purpose of CBD extraction is superior to overseas hemp where CBD is just a “by product” of the hemp plant.

Domestic CBD growers on farms in Colorado and Kentucky use the whole plant to make CBD oil, including the flower. Overseas hemp producers often only use the stalk and the seeds of the plant. This is due to the law and importation restrictions. But that doesn’t change the fact that the highest concentration of terpenes and therapeutic components of cannabis are in the flower of the hemp plant. The flowers are the ideal extraction source for the richest and highest quality CBD hemp oil.

I’m not saying that CBD from overseas hemp is all crap and won’t contain any terpenes. What I am saying is that you are better off going with a domestic producer if you want to get the highest quality CBD hemp oil. At the bare minimum, make sure any producer you get your products from provides you with extensive and recent lab reports of your product. Because CBD is not considered a dietary supplement by the FDA, the situation is a lot less regulated than other foods, drugs, and supplements you may take. The responsibility is on YOU to be an educated consumer and request those labs!

Please ask questions if you have them. Over and out.

~ CBD Professor

 

References 

Goldstein, B. (2016). Cannabis revealed: how the world’s most misunderstood plant is healing everything from chronic pain to epilepsy.

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