What are CBD Terpenes?

CBD terpenes are common ingredients for CBD product manufacturers. What are they? What do they do? Why are terpenes important? We’ll get to all of that in a little bit.

When you go to the grocery store, do you sniff your produce to see if it smells ripe and ready to eat? How do you think your favorite fruits and vegetables get their aroma? Terpenes, of course.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are tiny molecules that are found in plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, spices and cannabis. They’re responsible for giving these living things their flavor and aroma. Terpenes are a big part of aromatherapy and the science behind aromatherapy. These little molecules are why a certain flavor or smell might relax you or wake up your senses.

For a plant, its means of survival is producing terpenes. Every plant, herb and spice has a unique terpene profile. The same is true with cannabis and strains of hemp. You may see CBD terpenes mentioned as ingredients, in reference to the entourage effect or in educational content and not know what significance they have to CBD products.

The Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is important in alternative medicine – especially when cannabis and hemp are involved. When all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes of a cannabis strain are present, this creates the entourage effect or all of the natural compounds of the plant working together to create synergy in the body. With CBD isolate products, even with CBD terpenes added, the entourage effect is not attainable because THC is missing.

In any CBD or cannabis product where a major cannabinoid is missing, the entourage effect cannot be achieved. Full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products often have terpenes added to them specifically for this purpose. Now, if the broad spectrum CBD products says it’s from isolate and is THC-free, the entourage effect is likely impossible to achieve.

Now, back to what CBD terpenes are. You might wonder how you’ll remember what terpenes are. It’s simple. When you see the word terpenes or the phrase CBD terpenes — just think flavor and aroma.

It’s also important to point out that terpenes do have verified benefits for your overall health and wellness.  The funny thing is, you’re likely consuming terpenes every single day in the food you eat and didn’t know it.

terpenes found in nature

What’s the Connection between CBD and Terpenes?

Studies are being conducted on CBD all around the world to determine its efficacy for a multitude of symptoms and ailments. Terpenes are important in CBD products. Terpenes have proven efficacy and uses in overall health and wellness.

This is why you’ll see terpenes included in so many CBD oil products – to increase efficacy. Terpenes can also add to the quality of CBD products, especially if the CBD oil used is full spectrum or broad spectrum not from isolate.

Aromatherapy often involves smelling scents from essential oils. These essential oils are volatile, meaning that the chemicals within the essential oils stimulate specific receptors in the nose. These receptors are located in the olfactory bulb area.

When the olfactory bulb is stimulated, it sends a message to the brain. The brain takes over and makes an interpretation of the reaction made by the nasal cavity receptors.

Let’s give you an example to better explain how this works. We’ll use the smell of fresh baked bread as an example. It’s an aroma that is comforting and exciting to some. When you breathe in the aroma of fresh baked bread, especially on an exceptionally stressful day, it can be calming. So your brain takes this signal as you relaxing and improving your mood due to feeling comforted by the aroma.

Another example is the aroma of fresh citrus. It’s an invigorating and exciting sensation that goes from your nose to your brain. Oranges, lemons and limes have the strongest aromas. For some, the smell of fresh orange is revitalizing and energizing.

Every plant in nature has a unique terpene profile. This is why some aromas will be pleasant to you and others may be off-putting.

Terpenes Used in CBD Products

We’ve gone through what terpenes are and how they work as well as why they’re important in CBD products, but what CBD terpenes are used most? What categories of CBD terpenes are there?

There are two main groups of terpenes.

Sesquiterpenes

Sesquiterpenes have a stronger smells. This classification of terpenes has anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties. The easiest way to explain what sesquiterpenes are is that they hydrocarbons that can also occur in oxygenated forms. Essential oils fall into the category of sesquiterpenes.

When these compounds work in the body, the half-life of some smaller molecules increases. This action may play a role in inhibiting internal DNA encryption.

Monoterpenes

Monoterpenes are also present in essential oils. They are often referred to as short-chain terpenes. Monoterpenes are found mainly in herbs, spices, pine trees, flowers, fruits and citrus.

Think of monoterpenes as the closers that help ensure that your DNA structure is correct. Sesquiterpenes weed out the toxins and monoterpenes come in and give CBD phytocannabinoids a big boost.

Since the monoterpenes work directly with CBD, it adds support to the entourage effect theory.

Common Terpenes Used in CBD Products

Before we get into explaining the commonly used CBD terpenes, it’s important to know how they work with other cannabinoids and the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for working with the central and peripheral nervous systems to regulate major functions in the body.

Those major functions include:

  • Appetite
  • Cognitive function
  • Energy production
  • Hormone function
  • Immune system response
  • Inflammatory system response
  • Mood
  • Perception of pain
  • Sleep

Cannabinoids can enter the body in several ways. If you use dry cannabis flower, you will receive cannabinoids through the inhaled smoke. Vapers receive cannabinoids through the vapor inhaled. Concentrate users also receive cannabinoids via inhaled vapor. Oil and tincture users take in cannabinoids sublingually as the cannabinoids start to absorb under the tongue.

When it comes to edibles, cannabinoids enter the bloodstream and distribute throughout the body after being digested. This would also apply to those that use capsules.

Cannabinoids can also be received through the skin when topicals, lotions, transdermal patches and creams are applies.

CBD terpenes are elements of all of these types of products through various elements, such as essential oils and the terpenes themselves.

Now, onto the most commonly used CBD terpenes.

cannabinoid receptorsAlpha-Pinene

Alpha-Pinene is one of the most used CBD terpenes. Some manufacturers may list it as a-pinene. One of the reasons this is a commonly used terpene is that it helps improve the entourage effect.

Additional benefits of Alpha-Pinene include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Bronchodilator
  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Analgesic
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-depressant
  • Gastro protectant
  • Antimicrobial

This terpene also creates a synergistic effect when combined with CBD and CBN. What is a bronchodilator? Bronchodilators work to reduce inflammation in the bronchial tubes and airways.

Alpha-Pinene can be found in:

  • Pine trees
  • Pine needles
  • Rosemary
  • Juniper berries
  • Tea tree oil
  • Sagebrush
  • Eucalyptus
  • Several cannabis strains

It can also be found in a beta-form in dill, parsley and basil.

The multitude of uses for this terpene makes it an attractive and important ingredient in many CBD formulations.

Beta-caryophyllene

This is one of the very important CBD terpenes. CBD formulas that are designed to target pain and/or anxiety are likely to include beta-caryophyllene. It may also be listed as b-caryophyllene on product labels.

Some of the properties of this terpene include:

  • Anti-arthritis
  • Analgesic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Anti-cancer
  • Prevents nephrotoxicity
  • Neuroprotectant

Some data suggests that beta-caryophyllene may be helpful as a local anesthetic. As you can see from the list above, several of the properties of beta-caryophyllene target pain and inflammation-related symptoms or conditions. This makes it one of the most helpful CBD terpenes in formulas created to target pain and inflammation.

You can find beta-caryophyllene in:

  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Black caraway
  • Copaiba balsam
  • Copaiba oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Hops
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary

From this list of sources, you’ve probably guessed by now that you’ve been getting beta-caryophyllene on a daily basis, most likely. Black pepper is one of the most common spices used, so you’ve probably gotten a little bit of this terpene daily from this spice alone. If you’re a beer lover, you’re getting beta-caryophyllene from hops. This may be part of the reason that beer has a calming or relaxing effect for some people.

CBD terpenes in hops

Limonene

Limonene has actually been involved in scientific studies with one concluding that this important member of the CBD terpenes family has anti-inflammatory properties. With its name, you might assume that limonene has something to do with lemons or limes – kind of.

Limonene can be found naturally in:

  • The peels of lemons and limes
  • Pulp of citrus fruits
  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Caraway
  • Dill
  • Pine trees
  • Some walnuts
  • Some pistachios
  • Tangerines
  • Cardamom
  • Celery
  • Fennel

Not all of the sources of limonene have a citrusy flavor, but some do have fruity notes and a little sharpness to them.

Some of the properties of this member of the CBD terpenes family include:

  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Anti-allergy agent
  • Immunostimulant
  • Anxiolytic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial

In addition to these properties, limonene also helps other terpenes absorb into the skin with topical application. You might also be wondering what anti-proliferative means, right? Anti-proliferative refers to inhibiting cell growth, specifically in cancer cells and tumors.

Linalool

This is another one of the popular CBD terpenes used in many CBD product formulas. Linalool is a versatile terpene. It’s mostly associated with mood improvement.

Some of its properties include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-epileptic
  • Sedative
  • Anxiolytic
  • Antifungal
  • Analgesic
  • Mood stabilizer

When you see the word linalool as an ingredient – think happy and calming. This is an ideal terpene for those with epilepsy, anxiety and chronic pain due to inflammation.

You can find linalool in:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus peels and pulp
  • Coriander
  • Birch trees
  • Bergamot
  • Mint
  • Laurel plants
  • Lavender
  • Jasmine
  • Rosewood

Linalool may also be added to some aromatherapy oils and is present in lavender-based calming creams, soaps and other topicals.

linalool found in lavender

Lavender

Myrcene

Myrcene is known as the pain buster of CBD terpenes. Several studies have identified myrcene as having analgesic properties. It may also benefit those with muscle tension an inflammation.

Properties of myrcene include:

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antipsychotic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Sedative
  • Anti-mutagenic
  • Anti-proliferative
  • Anti-carcinogen
  • Antiseptic

The sedative property of myrcene suggests that the terpene promotes relaxation.

Myrcene can be found in:

  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Cardamom
  • Hops
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass
  • Mangoes
  • Parsley
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Hops
  • Wild thyme
  • Verbena

When you drink a beer, you’re getting a little bit of myrcene. If you eat a mango or use eucalyptus-infused topicals, you’re getting some myrcene.

Additional Beneficial CBD Terpenes

The CBD terpenes outlined above are the most common used in CBD formulas. There are other terpenes that also make their way into some formulas. They also serve a purpose.

Terpineol has relaxing, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic and sedative properties. It works best when combined with alpha-pinene, myrcene and limonene. It has a long list of properties and benefits.

Terpineol is found in rosemary, sage, lemon peel, pine trees and oregano. It’s also a component of cajuput oil. Cajuput oil is used in some medical cannabis and CBD topicals.

Nerolidol is an uncommon terpene but does have valuable properties. It’s an ideal ingredient in CBD topicals as it helps enhance transdermal applications and helps skin penetration. It has sedative properties, which may lend a hand in relaxation.

Humulene is another undervalued one of the CBD terpenes. It has analgesic, pharmacokinetic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also listed as an anticonvulsant, which could aid those with seizure disorders.

Humulene is in hops, sage, basil, cloves, coriander, basil and black pepper – among other plants.

Some terpenes are found in multiple herbs and spices. Terpenes do more than just provide flavor and aroma – they have a purpose in your body.

Closing Thoughts

When you’re buying CBD products, look for the inclusion of CBD terpenes. They are important and can help your body. If the exact terpenes aren’t listed on a label but terpenes are listed as an ingredient, simply contact the manufacturer to inquire. When terpenes are listed as ingredients in full or broad spectrum CBD products, these products superior because the manufacturer has taken the extra time to research ingredients and the efficacy of every terpene in their formula to ensure it’s a proper blend.