Terpenes…What is a terpene?


What is a terpene?

by Op-ed blogger Quinton Charles

Spring is coming and so are some of the smells and colors we love most! Like spring smells, cannabis products can have different smells depending on the strain and “flavor?” That unique smell is often the product of what are known as “terpenes.” In addition to oils such as CBD and THC, cannabis plants produce another oil; this oil is terpene. Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced by nearly all forms of life. In plants, they are responsible for scent and color. Flowers often have the highest terpene content, which is why they have the strongest scent and often the most unique and vibrant colors.

Effects of terpenes when combined with CBD

So, beyond flavor or aroma, why should you care about terpenes? Because terpenes also can have a direct effect on how CBD affects you. Some promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and acuity.  The benefit of terpenes in conjunction with cannabinoids can multiply the benefits your body can experience.

Some of the powerful terpenes and their benefits

  • Linalool, for example, is believed to be relaxing whereas limonene elevates mood.
  • Beta-caryophyllene, is found in many strains of Cannabis, as well as in oregano and black pepper, among other herbs. It is notable as a protector of the stomach lining and also as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Beta-caryophyllene also binds to the CB2 receptors on T-Cells and Macrophages in the immune system , enabling them to more effectively combat illness.  It is the only terpene known to bind directly to cannabinoid receptors in the human body. This property is one of the reasons that green vegetables are so healthy for the digestive system and overall immune health.

Common Terpenes in Hemp

Some terpenes commonly found in cannabis products are Pinene, Myrcene, and Limonene.

  • Pinene emits a pine-like scent (hence the name) and is reported to be anti-inflammatory.
  • Myrcene has an earthy, herbal odor and is often found in mango and thyme outside of cannabis. It has a relaxing effect.
  • Limonene is citrus-like in aroma, as it is often found in citrus rinds. It has found use most often as a mood-elevator and has been found to relieve anxiety.

Making sure terpenes are in my CBD

So how do I know if these amazing, healthy, beneficial terpenes are in my CBD products? Well, you’re going to want to look for products that are labeled or known as “full spectrum.” But what is “full spectrum?” It refers to how the CBD oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant maintains all of its cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients; nothing is left out, so all of the terpenes are present (along with their benefits!). Most companies will publish 3rd party lab reports on their batches of CBD, which will include information on how they extracted the CBD from the hemp. One of the best processes that can be used to retain all of the terpenes in the oil is Supercritical CO2 Extraction. Supercritical CO2 is a fully recyclable, non-toxic, eco-friendly form of carbon dioxide, that’s held at a very specific temperature and pressure to keep it in a liquid state, as it passes through the plants. After extraction, the CO2 gasses off entirely from the oil, leaving only plant materials and no residual solvents behind.

Raw CBDA has terpenes

This CO2 method is most common for “full spectrum” products, and is preferred for its lack of residue and the quality of the end product. Most products are very clear about whether or not they are “full spectrum,” and that is what you should look for if you want the full benefits of terpenes. It is key to note that some full spectrum products are also considered “Raw” products.  All raw products are considered full spectrum and will also have the benefits of the plant terpenes. Raw means that the the product has some of the “raw” or unheated/cold processed plant matter  This part of the plant has it’s own benefits. Often people take a raw product for chronic pain and inflammation.


A doctors advice should be sought before using any supplemental dietary products.  The statements above have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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