What's a Terpene and How Can Terpenes Help Me?

What's a Terpene and How Can Terpenes Help Me?

Terpenes are the chemical compounds in plants that give them their characteristic smell. (Think mint, lavender, clove, citrus fruits, etc.) They are what's called an "unsaturated hydocarbon," and the cannabis plant contains a great number of them. Many terpenes appear to have health and other properties beneficial to humans. For example, geraniol is a terpene used in many natural insect repellents. Researchers continue to discover these benefits as time goes on.

Are terpenes the same as “cannabinoids”?

No, cannabinoids are compounds such as THC (tetra-hydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol) that are specific to the cannabis plant itself. Cannabinoids activate receptors in our endocannabinoid system. Scientists have discovered more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis so far.

Are terpenes the same as “terpenoids”?

Not exactly. When terpenes are alive in the plant, they’re called terpenes. When they oxidize during harvesting and drying, they change into terpenoids. Terpenes help to protect plants from getting eaten by animals as well as other plant diseases. Some attract pollinating insects, others repel disease-carrying pests.  

How do terpenes affect my body?

Terpenes are bioactive. Because they often produce strong scents, many are inhaled as part of natural medicine practices such as aromatherapy. They can also be added to foods or essential oils.

Early research has demonstrated that isolated terpenes do affect the body in a variety of ways. Nonetheless, researchers must continue to study these natural compounds to determine the scope and extent.  

Terpenes affect how our body absorbs and reacts to cannabinoids through something called the entourage effect.  This may include greater improvement of symptoms, reduced side effects.  Thus, taking a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum formulation which contains terpenes may have a more beneficial impact than pure CBD isolate.

What are some common terpenes?

Beta-caryophyllene

  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic

Geraniol

  • insect repellent

Humulene

  • reduced allergic inflammation
  • cellular protection

Limonene 

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • antiviral
  • antidiabetic
  • anticancer

Linalool

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antimicrobial
  • neuroprotective
  • antidepressant
  • anticancer
  • anti-anxiety

Myrcene

  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory

Pinene

  • Natural bronchodilator
  • Anti-inflammatory

Other terpenes

  • terpinolene
  • ocimene
  • nerolidol
  • phytol

Conclusion

Terpenes are widely available from a variety of plants, fruits, and herbs, giving them their characteristic scent. The cannabis plant contains high concentrations of terpenes. While early research has demonstrated that terpenes appear to have health-related benefits for humans, further research must be conducted to understand and support these benefit claims. 


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