We know that cannabis and hemp (and CBD) have a number of exciting health benefits - but why?
Cannabis contains two important kinds of chemicals: cannabinoids (like CBD) and terpenes. Small amounts of terpenes are found in cannabis and hemp plants, and they’re partially responsible for the way cannabis and hemp affects the body.
Here’s what you need to know about the effects and benefits of terpenes.
Terpenes are chemicals that naturally occur in all sorts of plants, including pine trees, lavender, citrus fruits, and hemp. Terpenes give different plants their unique smells. When you breathe in the soothing fragrance of eucalyptus, or the scent of a freshly-picked bunch of herbs, you’re experiencing the effects of terpenes.
There are dozens of known terpenes. Outside of the natural world, they are used to make fragrances in cosmetics, perfumes, and beauty products. Essential oils contain the terpenes of whatever plant they’re derived from: lavender contains linalool, citrus fruits contain limonene, and so on.
Different strains of hemp and cannabis have their own unique combinations of terpenes. This combination is known as a terpene profile. This gives strains their unique flavors and aromas—some smell sweet and earthy; others smell like blueberries and citrus.
Terpenes also have a range of potential health benefits, with each terpene affecting the body in a different way. This is partly why different strains have different effects on your mood, mind, and body.
Terpenes seem to have a great deal of health benefits, according to a 2018 review in the European Journal of Medical Chemistry. The effect on the body differs from one terpene to the next. The majority of terpenes seem to have a relaxing and soothing effect, and many have the ability to reduce pain, inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia.
This is one of the reasons why aromatherapy and essential oils seem to have such a pleasant effect.
Dozens of different terpenes can be found in cannabis. Here are a few of the most common terpenes and their possible benefits.
Caryophyllene is unusual because it also affects our endocannabinoid system, making it both a cannabinoid and a terpene. Peppery in scent, it’s also found in cinnamon and black pepper.
Limonene gives citrus fruits their uplifting scents. It’s said to have an energizing, mood-boosting effect. Some studies suggest that limonene might be able to treat mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. Limonene might also reduce inflammation and pain.
Relaxing and calming, linalool gives lavender its iconic aroma and is used often in cosmetics. Studies on linalool suggest it might be able to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, and inflammation.
This common terpene has a herbal, earthy scent. It’s found in hops, thyme, and lemongrass, and has a soothing effect. Studies suggest that myrcene might be able to treat issues like insomnia, pain, and inflammation.
Found in pine needles and certain herbs, pinene has a distinctive fragrance and promotes focus and relaxation. The available research suggests that pinene might be able to address pain, inflammation, anxiety, cancer and even asthma.
Fenchol has a refreshing, earthy smell. It seems to be an antibacterial substance, and a 2013 study showed that it has both antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. It also might be able to relieve pain, according to one 2014 study.
This soothing terpene gives eucalyptus its refreshing, cooling scent. So far, research suggests that eucalyptol can help with respiratory diseases and has antibacterial properties, which is why it’s a popular addition to lozenges and cough medicine.
Humulene smells a lot like hops. It’s also found in coriander and other herbs. So far, research has shown that humulene might have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also seems to be an antioxidant.
Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD typically includes all of the terpenes found in the plant.
You can check whether your CBD contains terpenes by looking at the lab report (also known as a certificate of analysis). Most certificates of analysis include a list of terpenes found in the product. You could also reach out to the company and ask them which terpenes are found in their products. Our certificates of analysis can be found here.