What are Terpenes?

When you first start learning about CBD, you’re likely to come across a few words that confuse you. “Terpene” might be one of them. Why does my CBD product contain terpenes? What do they do? Are they this even a good thing? In this article, we’ll briefly explain what terpenes are, and why you should want them in your CBD products. 

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are molecules found in CBD. Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes are not molecules that can bind with endocannabinoid receptors. However, they do affect your body in a number of other important ways. 

Before we knew about the benefits of terpenes, we already knew that they existed, and for good reason. Terpenes are the molecules that give cannabis its scent and flavor. For example, terpenes can make certain strains of cannabis smell lemony and fresh, while giving others a more fruity scent, or something more herbal and similar to pine trees. 

In fact, terpenes are not present just in cannabis. They’re also found in many different plants and give aromatic herbs and even fruit their distinctive flavor. For example, the terpene “limonene” can be found in some strains of cannabis, but also in lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits. 

For a long time, growers thought that terpenes were important in cannabis only because they made it smell and taste a certain way. Today, we know that they also complement the effects of cannabinoids and have benefits of their own.

What is the “entourage effect?”

The entourage effect is a theory that CBD is more potent when taken together with all the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis rather than as an isolate. According to this theory, cannabinoids make each other stronger when they are in each other’s vicinity. And terpenes play a similar role. Following that logic, a terpene-rich CBD extract is much more potent than a CBD isolate for the same number of milligrams. This is the entourage effect.

Although there hasn’t been enough research on that theory yet, it offers some very interesting perspectives. When it comes to choosing CBD products, it’s a good idea to keep that theory in mind and look for products that are “broad-spectrum” or “terpene-rich.” It could also mean that mixing CBD and essential oils together can be very potent, as essential oils are treasure troves of terpenes. 

What do terpenes do?

Terpenes do a lot more than just reinforce the effects of CBD. They also have their own unique set of properties. 

For example, the molecule pinene which gives things a pine-like aroma has a calming effect, which could increase alertness, and also helps regulate your skin’s sebum production.

Limonene is what gives certain strains of cannabis a citrusy aroma. It has an energizing effect and also works as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anxiety-fighting molecule. 

When combined with the benefits of CBD, terpenes can be wonderful molecules that improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

How do I check for terpenes in a CBD product? 

As we’ve seen, terpenes are great ingredients to have in a CBD product. But how do you know that they are there, and which ones are present?

You can easily recognize a CBD product that contains terpenes because it will me labelled as broad or full-spectrum. This means that the base of the product is a cannabis extract that contains CBD, other cannabinoids, and naturally occurring terpenes. If you can’t find that label anywhere, it is likely that the CBD product contains CBD isolate instead.  

Once you’ve picked up a high-quality broad or full-spectrum CBD product, checking what terpenes it contains is easy. Reputable manufacturers of CBD have their products “third-party certified,” which means that an independent laboratory analyzes what they contain. This laboratory issues an official document called a “Certificate of Analysis” which the CBD manufacturer should make public. You can usually find that document on the company’s website, or in the box that your product comes with. That document will let you know which terpenes have been detected in the product, which can be a great way to learn more about what kinds of effects you can expect to feel from it.

Finally, some CBD products contain added essential oils that also add terpenes. For example, a CBD salve could contain lavender or eucalyptus essential oil for a more relaxing scent. Or, a CBD oil could contain peppermint or lemon essential oil for improved taste. The great thing about these essential oils is that they also contain good amounts of terpenes. For example, you can find limonene in lemon, rosemary, peppermint, and juniper essential oil. Pinene can be found in rosemary and basil essential oils, while you can find caryophyllene in black pepper, clove, or cinnamon essential oil. If you’re looking for an easy way to add health-promoting terpenes to your CBD products, essential oils are a great way to do so! 

Takeaways

Terpenes are great, under-rated molecules that do much more than just give CBD its flavor and scent. They reinforce its effects and add additional benefits, which is why it can be so beneficial to use terpene-rich CBD products. 

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