Terpenes are an essential component of the cannabis plant, yet are not as widely known as the more commonly discussed cannabinoids such as CBD or THC. In addition to being a key component of cannabis plants themselves, terpenes also play a strong role in the experience and effects of CBD. Understanding terpenes will help provide a better knowledge of CBD products and which may be the best for you.
Cannabinoids and The Endocannabinoid System
In order to understand terpenes, first we need to establish what cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system are. While studying the effects of marijuana in the 1990’s, it was discovered that there were multiple different types of receptors found throughout the 11 major systems of the body that would interact with the chemical compounds in cannabis. These receptors are part of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), responsible for maintaining homeostasis throughout the body. Homeostasis is your body’s way of keeping your internal systems balanced, stable, and optimized, regardless of the environment around you.
To provide a common example, if you’re exercising on a hot day, your ECS will trigger you to begin sweating so you can cool down. After your run, your stomach may begin to growl. That’s your ECS reminding you that you need to fuel up!
You can think about the ECS as one integrated system that connects other systems that help regulate vital physiological functions – everything from sleep to reproduction to inflammation. Since the ECS plays a role in other major systems within the body, it’s important to ensure that it’s functioning properly. If the ECS is damaged or dysfunctional, it may lead to certain conditions like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines.
The body creates its own form of cannabinoids referred to as endogenous cannabinoids (or endocannabinoids). These naturally-occurring cannabinoids are notable because they interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the ECS and help the proper functioning of the body.
One such endocannabinoid is called Anandamide, which is known to have a relaxing effect on the body. When a particular system becomes unbalanced, your brain will target the specific receptors located within that system, sending endocannabinoids only where they are needed. Once the endocannabinoids have restored balance, the ECS will trigger certain enzymes to stop the response as to not overcorrect. In this way, the ECS triggers a very precise response.
In addition to the endocannabinoids your body makes, there are a number of phytocannabinoids that interact with the body in a very similar way to endocannabinoids. Two of the most significant cannabinoids of the cannabis plant are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is mostly found in marijuana, and CBD (cannabinol), which is often derived from hemp. The differences between CBD and THC and hemp and marijuana are notable, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of how they are different.
- THC – THC is a psychoactive drug that causes the brain to release dopamine, making you feel “high.” This type of cannabinoid comes mostly from the marijuana plant. Marijuana is traditionally grown specifically for its high concentration of THC. Growing and selling marijuana in the United States is currently illegal under federal law, however, many U.S. states and a few countries around the world have passed legislation legalizing the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.
- CBD – CBD is a type of cannabinoid mainly derived from the hemp plant today, due to the plant’s ability to naturally produce high concentrations of the compound. CBD does not have any of the psychoactive properties of THC, and is now available in many forms due to its potential benefits. CBD derived from hemp is also now legal in the United States.
Due to the absence of psychoactive effects, CBD is the cannabinoid that is safe – and now legal – for consumption. CBD interacts with the ECS and its receptors in a similar way to endocannabinoids, thereby stimulating the positive effects of the system in the body. Introducing phytocannabinoids into the body may boost the ECS in a way that has potential benefits for a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety and more.
What Are Terpenes?
The key to much of the function and potential benefits of CBD lies in the presence of terpenes. Like many other plants, herbs, and fruits, hemp also produces powerful essential oils. These essential oils contain the plant’s terpenes.
Terpenes are the aromatic and flavorful compounds found within hemp’s essential oils that give the plant its fragrance. You may see the words terpenes and terpenoids used interchangeably, although there are some slight differences between the two. More precisely, terpenes are hydrocarbons, meaning the only elements present in terpene are carbon and hydrogen. Terpenoids, however, have been denatured by oxidation (drying and curing the flowers). They are chemically modified from terpenes, but function in much a similar manner.
The flower’s sticky resin glands, the same glands that produce CBD, secrete the essential oils and terpenes. Terpene production is largely impacted by factors external to the plant such as temperature, humidity, and light intensity, and they can be divided into types based on their molecular structure or size. When categorizing by size, you may see references to sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, or tetraterpenes.
There are over 20,000 known terpenes found in plants alone. Over 200 different types of terpenes have been discovered in cannabis, with different strains and varieties of cannabis having a unique composition of terpenes. The most prevalent terpene in cannabis is called myrcene. Myrcene is what gives cannabis plants their musky, earthy aroma. It can also smell like fruity, red grapes to some people. Pinene, the most common terpene found in nature, is also present in certain strains and has lemony, pine scent.
What Are The Benefits of Terpenes?
Pleasant fragrances and aromatherapy potential are not the only benefits of using CBD with terpenes. Terpenes such as myrcene, pinene, limonene, and humulene are all known to also have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Limonene, which has a citrus aroma, may even act as an antidepressant.
There are some terpenes that are known to demonstrate even more unique and powerful effects.
Geraniol – This terpene can be used as an effective repellent for mosquitoes. It has also demonstrated a preventative effect in neuropathy, or nerve damage. Geraniol has rosy, floral notes.
Terpinolene – This terpene has a fresh floral aroma and may act as a sedative, reducing episodes of insomnia.
Ocimene – Also found in other herbs such as mint, parsley, and basil, ocimene has a sweet and woodsy aroma. In addition to being an anti-inflammatory like other terpenes, it may also act as a powerful decongestant.
Bisabolol – Recognized by its sweet, floral scent, bisabolol is known to have antimicrobial and anti-irritant properties. Bisabolol has also been shown to have a pro-apoptotic effect on acute leukemia cells, by kicking off a series of biochemical events that lead to key cell changes.
Caryophyllene – This terpene has a spicy, peppery aroma. It’s also the only terpene known to bind to the CB receptors in the endocannabinoid system, similar to CBD. CBD products that also contain caryophyllene may have an even greater and direct effect on helping our ECS maintain homeostasis throughout the body.
CBD formulas vary in the type and number of terpenes included. For example, Full Spectrum CBD includes a variety of terpenes, while CBD Isolate does not include any and is more of a pure form of CBD. Even within the category of Full Spectrum CBD, different formulas will contain distinct combinations of terpenes. For example, the Full Spectrum BioCBD+ formulas are unique blends of CBD, essential oils and terpenes, and each product features a specific blend in order to draw upon the advantages of each terpene combination.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The studies behind terpenes continue to produce even more compelling results, one of which is known as the Entourage Effect. This phenomenon may take place when multiple compounds that are extracted from hemp work together to influence each other’s mechanisms. The entourage effect is a kind of synergy, where the therapeutic benefits of the plant’s individual components are magnified or altered in the presence of each other. A prime example of this is the interaction of the CBD compound and terpenes. CBD and terpenes can actually enhance the effects of one another, providing greater symptom relief and added benefits.
Another example involves multiple terpenes. The most common terpene, myrcene, may help reduce resistance in an over-active blood-brain barrier, allowing other more beneficial chemicals to reach the brain. When myrcene is combined with pinene and caryophyllene, it has been shown to potentially reduce anxiety, more so than each terpene could do on its own.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, as it’s commonly known, is a strain of bacteria that causes dangerous infections and has become resistant to many common antibiotics. However, when faced with a combination of pinene with the cannabinoid CBG, the entourage effect has shown potential promising results in eliminating the superbug.
There are even terpenes which help reduce the effects of other cannabinoids found in marijuana or hemp, the same plant in which the terpene was derived. For example, pinene may help to counteract some of the memory and cognition side effects commonly caused by THC.
Harnessing Terpenes in your CBD Products
Since terpenes are a volatile compound – meaning that they will evaporate and breakdown at room-temperature – it can be difficult to find products that retain terpene aromas in high concentrations. When researching products, it’s important to consider how the compounds were extracted from the plant. Extraction processes that involve low temperatures will produce the best results in relation to terpenes. The composition and other details of the formula can be found in the CBD lab results.
In addition, if you want the added benefits of terpenes in your CBD oil, stick to Broad or Full Spectrum CBD products only. Any product that’s referred to as CBD Isolate means that all other cannabinoids (and terpenes) have been removed, leaving behind a 99.9% pure CBD oil. If you need help learning more about the question, “What is pure CBD?”, research the spectrum and concentration of your product.
Harnessing the power of terpenes alongside the benefits of CBD oils may help further eliminate certain symptoms and ailments. The sheer number and diversity of terpenes and cannabinoids mean that research may continue to unlock even more beneficial combinations and effects.
BioCBD+ products utilize Full Spectrum CBD in order to draw upon the entourage effect produced by the inclusion of terpenes. All products also include herbs to aid in ayurvedic healing, thereby creating an all-natural and holistic product. Consider trying BioCBD+ capsules, oil or vape today!
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The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.