Terminology surrounding cannabidiol (CBD) can be quite confusing, with terpenes topping the list. But if you’ve ever washed your hands with soap, worn perfume or lotion, or eaten maple syrup, you are already familiar with these tiny yet mighty giants. From cosmetic products to tasty treats with countless examples in between, terpenes are used to help bring everyday products to life. Recent studies are now confirming that terpenes may also provide mental and physical health benefits.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds naturally produced by many plants, and even some insects. In nature, they are a plant’s shield of armor, protecting them from harsh weather and animals who think they look delicious, and also attract pollinators. More than 20,000 unique terpenes have been discovered and studied, with more than 100 found in a single cannabis plant alone! Each terpene has its own specific aroma in addition to offering distinct effects and benefits.
When a CBD product is listed as “terpene enhanced”, it means it is a blend of cannabidiol with other selected natural terpenes combined to create a desired effect, such as relaxation, focus, or pain relief. This is referred to as an “entourage effect”, with compounds are even more beneficial working together as a team than each would be on their own. The right terpene combinations are known to provide powerful therapeutic effects connected to epilepsy, anxiety, neurological disorders, along with reducing inflammation, helping our bodies absorb nutrients, or even serving as antimicrobial or antifungal agents. Most importantly, terpenes and respective blends are all non-psychoactive, providing desired benefits without the high or other side effects.
Terpenes Are All Around Us
While dozens of different terpenes blend wonderfully with CBD, there are several that are most notable and commonly utilized, including pinene, limonene, myrcene, caryophyllene, and linalool.
Pinene – Energizing and re-invigorating, pinene is strongly reminiscent of its pine namesake, yet is also what gives aromatic herbs such as rosemary, dill, and basil much of their coveted fragrance. If you’ve ever taken a walk through a pine wood, then you’re already familiar with how refreshing pinene can be.
What it can do for us – Pinene reduces inflammation and aids in opening airways, helping those who take a whiff breathe a little easier.
Limonene – Citrusy and bright, limonene is the second most common terpene found in cannabis plants. Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and limes contain high concentrations of limonene. This popular scent is commonly added to household cleaning and cosmetic products.
What it can do for us – Along with promoting a brighter mood and sunnier thoughts, limonene is also a powerful antibacterial and antifungal.
Myrcene – Fruity, peppery, and spicy, myrcene is the main terpene that you’ll find in cannabis plants. This naturally unique scent gives hops, mangoes, ginger, and lemongrass their particularly savory-sweet fragrance.
What it can do for us – Myrcene is known to help enhance absorption of helpful compounds like cannabinoids and other beneficial terpenes, and also bears both anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Caryophyllene – Peppery deep spice scents such as those associated with black pepper, cinnamon, tobacco, and cloves, caryophyllene is a feisty scent that’s both highly distinctive and heartwarmingly familiar, like toasted spices on a winter’s morning. As the only terpene currently proven to have a direct effect on the endocannabinoid system by activation of human CB2 receptors, caryophyllene is of great interest in the study of the central nervous system.
What it can do for us – Caryophyllene brings comfort by reducing tissue inflammation.
Linalool – Comforting floral and lavender notes make linalool effective at calming both mind and body. A well-known therapeutic terpene, it is found in a wide variety of flowering plants, producing the light soothing fragrances that we associate with fresh flowers and springtime meadows.
What it can do for us – Linalool has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase optimistic thinking, and it’s long been an additive to body care products like lotions and creams to promote relaxation.
To Terpene or Not to Terpene
At Allvane, three of our CBD tinctures are crafted with the beneficial power of terpenes. For those who live with acute or chronic pain, the soothing blend of myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, limonene, and humulene in our Pain Formula helps your body fight inflammation. If relaxation is your goal, our Unwind Formula takes linalool to the next level to help find your Zen. Focus Formula helps you maintain your mental acuity with a bright burst of limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene to keep your mind on track, while linalool helps you keep your cool even when you’re under pressure.
Just as you likely would not choose a shot of espresso as a bedtime beverage, it is important to first identify the specific need or desired outcome you are hoping to achieve when shopping for CBD. Each of our products is created with a specific purpose in mind. We will always remind you that CBD is not a cure for any ailment, and each body is unique and can respond to CBD products differently. Thanks to terpenes, there are great options available to support a variety of needs and lifestyles.
Written with support from Dr. Amanda Musch Long, Ph. D., contributor and co-author