What Is a Terpene?

Quick Summary

Terpenes are naturally-occurring oils that are found in most forms of life, including plants and some animals. Terpenes can provide a wide range of benefits. Like all plants, the hemp plant contains beneficial terpenes.

If you have ever smelled a flower, used an essential oil, or taken a deep whiff of a Christmas tree, you have experienced terpenes. These oils are found in most forms of life, including plants. They are responsible for giving plants their aroma and color – and may have a host of beneficial properties as well.

Terpenes are found in all types of plants. The hemp plant – from which CBD is extracted – is bursting with more than 100 terpenes. Preliminary research indicates that many of the terpenes found in the hemp plant have an array of health benefits. Some promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and acuity.  

When taken in combination with CBD, these terpenes may enhance and even multiply the effects of the plant. If you’re interested in natural health, full or broad spectrum CBD products that are full of terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds may be a great choice for you.

Understanding Terpenes

Terpenes are naturally-occurring oils that are found in most forms of life, including plants and some animals. They play a critical role for plants, attracting pollinators or even repelling predators. Some terpenes even plan a protective role for plants, helping to repair damage or protecting them from infectious germs.

In plants, terpenes are responsible for both smell and color. For example, the strong smell of fresh rosemary is due to a high concentration of terpenes. Flowers have a particularly high level of terpenes, which is why they tend to have brighter colors and stronger smells compared to other plants.

Many terpenes are considered bioactive, which means that they may have an effect on the body. For some terpenes, such as those used for essential oils, the impact is based on how a particular scent makes us feel. Terpenes have also been used to develop medications, such as steroids, which are derivatives of the plant terpene squalene

Many of us already consume terpenes on a regular basis. Terpenes are widely used to flavor food and drink products. If you’re a beer drinker, then you probably drink terpenes, which influence both the aroma and flavor of hops.

The hemp plant – a species of cannabis – is known for its particularly high concentration of terpenes. This accounts for the pungent smell of both hemp and its “cousin,” marijuana. While both hemp and marijuana are high in terpenes, hemp (from which CBD is derived) has extremely low levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. As a result, you can obtain many of the same health and wellness benefits of CBD without feeling high or stoned (or worrying about failing a drug test).

Benefits of Terpenes

Scientists have identified hundreds of different terpenes. In the cannabis plant alone, there are over 100 different terpenes. While the research on terpenes is still developing, studies have shown that many terpenes can be incredibly beneficial to humans.

Scientists have extensively studied a number of terpenes, including:

  1. Myrcene: found in many plants, including wild thyme, hops, lemongrass, mango, cardamom, verbena and cannabis, myrcene has a pleasant earthy, fruity scent. Research has shown that this terpene may be used to improve glucose tolerance in diabetics, and may help to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis
  2. Linalool: a spicy, floral terpene that is found in over 200 plants, including hops, citrus fruits and lavender. Studies have demonstrated that it may have a sedative, antidepressant, and anticonvulsant effects. It is known to have a relaxing effect.
  3. Caryophyllene: also known as beta-caryophyllene, this compound is found in plants such as cloves, cannabis, rosemary, oregano, black pepper, and hops. Scientific studies have shown that this terpene may help to alleviate pain, inflammation, atherosclerosis, anxiety, and depression. It may also help to boost the effect of chemotherapy drugs.  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.
  4. Limonene: extracted from the peels of citrus fruits, this oil has been shown to reduce both chronic and acute inflammation. It may also have antioxidant effects, may reduce the risk of cancer, and could boost heart health. Limonene is associated with an elevated mood.
  5. Pinene: found in the oils of many coniferous trees, including the pine tree, it is also abundant in cannabis and rosemary. This terpene may have antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic properties.

There is still much to discover about the potential benefits of terpenes. One thing is clear, however: consuming plants of all kinds can increase health and wellness, particularly when those plants are high in terpenes. 

Does CBD Contain Terpenes?

Both terpenes and CBD (cannabidiol) are found in the hemp plant. Through the extraction process, both compounds are removed from the stems, flowers, and stalks of hemp. The resulting oil contains terpenes, CBD and other cannabinoids, and flavonoids.

While there are more than 100 types of terpenes in the hemp plant, some of the most abundant terpenes include pinene, caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, and myrcene. When taken in combination with CBD, these terpenes may produce what is known as the entourage effect. Studies have shown that consuming CBD along with terpenes and flavonoids can enhance the beneficial effects of the CBD – enhancing the many existing benefits of CBD.

CBD products are placed into three broad categories: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full spectrum CBD products contain all of the beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant: cannabinoids (including CBD and trace amounts of THC), terpenes, along with flavonoids, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients. Full spectrum CBD products are as close as you can get to the hemp plant itself.

Some full spectrum CBD oils 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 product has some of the raw or unheated/cold processed plant matter  This part of the plant has its own benefits, including reducing pain and inflammation. 

Although the amount of THC in full spectrum CBD is very low (0.3% or less, per U.S. law), if you want to avoid THC altogether, the best option for you may be broad spectrum CBD. These products contain all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, antioxidants and phytonutrients found in full spectrum CBD – minus the THC. In this way, you can experience the entourage effect without ingesting any THC.

Finally, CBD isolate contains only CBD. All of the other compounds, including THC and terpenes, have been removed from CBD isolate products. While you will still experience the benefits of CBD with an isolate, you won’t get the entourage effect. 

Most reputable CBD companies will have their products tested by a third party laboratory. These lab reports – which you can view online – will contain data on what the CBD contains. They will also include information about the extraction process, which is important when you are looking to get all of the benefits of terpenes in addition to CBD.

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. It is held at a very specific temperature and pressure to keep it in a liquid state as it passes through the hemp plant. After extraction, the CO2 gasses off entirely from the oil, leaving only plant materials and no residual solvents behind. 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. 

Buying High Quality, Terpene-Filled CBD Online

Flavorful, aromatic terpenes can really boost the benefits of CBD. If you’re interested in trying a full or broad spectrum CBD product to try the entourage effect for yourself, we are here to help.

At Green Wellness Life, we aren’t doctors and cannot diagnose or treat any condition. Instead, we offer the latest research and our own experience with CBD to help guide you as you purchase CBD. We only sell CBD that has been independently tested and that is made from industrial hemp grown right here in the United States.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call at 866-244-4223 (M-F, 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST), or fill out our online contact form for an after-hours appointment. You can also click the “chat” button to speak to someone!


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