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Posted in Essential Oil Basics by Rocky Mountain Oils

CBD 101, Part 6

CBD and Terpenes

When you walk by a flower bush or open a carton of fresh blueberries, you'll get a whiff of distinct floral or fruity smells. Every plant around us, whether a tree, flower, fruit, vegetable, or herb, has a distinct smell, and it becomes easy for us to identify these plants simply by that smell.

The same goes for cannabis plants. Each variety of cannabis has its own distinct smell, just like different varieties of lavender or tulips have different and distinct smells. And the thing that gives each plant its own smell are the terpenes inside of it. But terpenes do so much more than just make a plant smell nice (or not smell nice, if you're the corpse flower).

They also offer several therapeutic benefits, especially when they combine with cannabinoids, like those found in CBD oil. Today, we're taking a closer look at what terpenes are and how they can enhance the benefits of CBD oil.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are molecules found in plants that produce a variety of different smells and flavors. Each plant has several different kinds of terpenes, but usually only a few dominate. These unique smells and flavors are designed to protect the plant and help it survive.

For example, if an herbivore comes and starts eating a plant, that plant can respond by sending out certain terpenes, or a smell, that attracts carnivores to its herbivore enemy. When a plant is ready to be pollinated, it can produce different terpenes, or smells, that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Pretty neat, right? You will find terpenes in every plant, but you can also find them in many of today's industrial products. Many companies use terpenes as fragrances, flavorings, or spices in their products, including cosmetics and perfumes.

Terpenes in Cannabis

In the cannabis plant specifically, there are over 100 different terpenes, each with its own unique flavor and smell. Of course, we only smell or taste the predominant terpenes, and each cannabis species (and ever other plant, for that matter) has varying strains and ratios of predominant and subdominant terpenes.

This makes it so that every plant species has a different smell and taste, even if it similar to a related species. That's why, in the earlier days, people could tell the difference between the sativa and indica species simply by the smell and taste of the plant. Terpenes gather inside of trichomes, which are the tiny hairs on cannabis flowers that give the buds their frosty look.

These trichomes, or glands, are also where the cannabis plant produces CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. Generally, terpenes are more concentrated in the flowers of unfertilized female cannabis plants, before the flowers undergo senescence (the process in which they age). As terpenes become more concentrated, they form an oil in the glands, which the plant can secrete as needed.

Terpenes in CBD Oil

Because terpenes create an oil in the cannabis flower, the essential oil from cannabis plants is essentially just the plant's terpene profile - with the cannabinoids that are also in the glands. This means that once the essential CBD oil is extracted from the plant and bottled, the oil also contains the terpenes that were in the same glands (that is, if the terpenes aren't removed from the oil after the extraction process).

Some people may think that CBD oil with terpenes is not "pure" CBD oil, but in reality, it is because all of the components in the oil came directly from the plant itself. Not only that, but having terpenes in your CBD oil can actually help enhance the benefits that CBD oil can provide.

Benefits of Terpenes

Terpenes work similar to and with the cannabinoids inside of the body, both those that your body produces naturally and those you ingest, like with CBD oil. This synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids creates what is called the "entourage effect". In essence, the "entourage effect" is the process that both terpenes and cannabinoids bind to receptors and work together to enhance the therapeutic properties of both compounds.

Basically, you get better results as the parts work together than you would if they were separate. Although there are over one hundred different terpenes in cannabis plants, there are a few specific ones that tend to be more dominant than the others, and these terpenes bring new therapeutic benefits while also enhancing those of CBD. Let's take a look at just a few of these dominant terpenes:

  • Myrcene: This terpene is commonly found in plants that are highly aromatic, such as mangoes, bay laurel, and basil. It provides a calming, sedative effect. It helps ease physical discomfort and lowers internal swelling.
  • Limonene: Found mostly in citrus fruits, this terpene can boost your mood, increase your mental focus, and reduce stress. Limonene can also help keep your body free of dangerous and harmful cells.
  • Pinene: As you may guess by the name, you can find this terpene in pine trees, as well as in some herbs, such as parsley and dill. Pinene helps ease inflammation and can promote better breathing. It can also help boost your mood and improve concentration.
  • Linalool: This terpene provides the typical fresh flower scent, and it has a great calming effect. It helps reduce stress and nervousness while also soothing muscle tension or spasms.

Terpenes and Cannabinoids Working Together

When terpenes and cannabinoids, like CBD, work together, you can experience enhanced therapeutic benefits. Some of those benefits include:
  • Greater dopamine activity
  • Increased serotonin activity
  • Increased control on how much THC crosses the brain-blood barrier
  • Increased blood flow
  • Enhanced activity in the cerebral cortex
We will get more into how CBD oil can benefit your body in part seven of this series.

Finding the Best Terpene-Filled CBD Oil

As our understanding of terpenes has increased over the years, many companies are looking for ways to add terpenes to their products. In cannabis products specifically, many companies add "cannabis terpene isolates" after the CBD oil is extracted from the plant. While these terpene isolates may be pure in some cases, some companies decide to opt for the cheaper option: synthetic terpenes, or terpenes from plants other than cannabis.

Synthetic terpenes should just be avoided altogether, and while terpenes from other plants can provide a variety of benefits, they will not have the same effect as natural cannabis terpenes would. If you want to make sure your CBD oil has natural cannabis terpenes so that you can get the full "entourage effect", look for CBD oil comes from CO2 extraction.

You can also check your oil's GC/MS test results to see if the terpenes in the oil actually came form cannabis plants. What to expect in part seven: Health Benefits of CBD  Questions or comments? Share below!  Missed our previous articles? Check them out here!  Resources: “Cannabis Terpenes: How They Work And Their Effects.” Royal Queen Seeds. July 21, 2016. Dr. Drabber. “Infographic: How Do Cannabis Terpenes Affect the Body?” Leafly. October 14, 2015. “Indica vs. Sativa: The Ultimate Guide in 2018.” Green Relief. June 16, 2017. “Introduction to Terpenes.” Medical Jane. Jacobs, Michael. “Cannabinoids and Terpenes: What is the Difference?” Terpenes and Testing Magazine. 2017. Lee, Martin A. “Terpenes: Smell the Mystery.” Project CBD. March 1, 2014. Pappas, Dr. Robert. “Cannabis Confusion Hemp, Marijuana, CBD and THC Some Personal Reflections.” Ultra International B.V. September 5, 2018. “Plant terpenes: defense responses, phylogenetic analysis, regulation and clinical applications.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. April 29, 2914. “Terpenes and The ‘Entourage Effect’”. Project CBD.