Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds produced by a variety of plants. Terpenes are what give each flower, herb and fruit its own unique scent and flavor. Every day, everywhere you go, you encounter terpenes. When you zest a lemon, you smell terpenes. Open a jar full of herbs, what you are smelling is the terpenes. Stop and smell the roses? More like stop and smell the terpenes.
A BIT MORE COMPLEX:
Terpenes are hydrocarbons present in essential oils produced by nature. There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence. Plants, animals, microbes, and fungi produce terpenes to carry out necessary biological functions. This diverse class of compounds serve as vitamins, hormones, pheromones, and as part of the immune system.
One way to think of botanical terpenes is as building blocks created by plants. These building blocks are blended with other aromatic compounds in countless ways in order to produce complex essential oils, such as Lavender, Rose, Sandalwood, etc.
In addition to unique aromas, terpenes play an equally important role in influencing the way we taste, smell and feel when a plant, herb or fruit is consumed. This happens because terpenes interact synergistically with other botanical compounds and humans hormones to create a phenomenon referred to as the “entourage effect” that magnifies the benefits of the plant’s individual components.
While there is so much to learn, what you need to know is that terpenes are aromatic compounds that when inhaled, applied to the skin, or consumed, they enhance our experience and greatly influence flavors and aromas.
The vast majority of terpenes are derived from many different natural sources. There are over 20,000 terpenes in nature and they are not unique to only one species of plant. For example, some natural sources of alpha-pinene include pine trees, other coniferous trees, eucalyptus, sage, rosemary, frankincense and ironwort. On our CBD Farm, we source the terpenes from bushy CBD hemp. The structure of terpenes are always the same no matter what plant they were isolated from.
While there is still a great deal to be discovered and understood, what you should know is that terpenes interact synergistically to create what scientists refer to as an “entourage effect”. The entourage effect magnifies the therapeutic benefits of the plant’s individual components so that the medicinal impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.
A BIT MORE COMPLEX:
The term “entourage effect” has become an important piece of vocabulary in the cannabis community to describe the relationship between terpenes, cannabinoids, and other phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants) which are responsible for the vast therapeutic potential of cannabis.
By now, most people have heard about cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. While these compounds have a range of medical benefits, they are only part of what makes cannabis medicine so effective and have proven to be less effective on their own than when combined with other phytochemicals like terpenes.
Both cannabinoids and terpenes affect receptors in the endocannabinoid system which is what allows cannabis to act therapeutically in the human body, this action in some cases also produces the “high” which most are familiar with.
It is the terpenes in cannabis which modulate (modify or control) the effect that the cannabinoids in each sample will have on the user. This is why strains of cannabis effect each user uniquely. For example, if you have 2 different types of cannabis and both have 15% THC, but one gives you energetic effects and one gives you sedative effects, this is largely due to the different terpene profiles.
Terpenes such as Myrcene, Nerolidol and Terpinolene have relaxing effects, while Alpha-Pinene is known to be uplifting. Cannabinoids and terpenes have their own independent effects, but in combination they have known to be vastly more effective than in isolation.
The word cannabinoid refers to every chemical substance, regardless of structure or origin, that joins the cannabinoid receptors of the body and brain and that have similar effects to those produced by the Cannabis Sativa plant.1 The three types of cannabinoids that people use are recreational, medicinal and synthetic.
Research has found that the cannabis plant produces between 80 and 100 cannabinoids and about 300 non-cannabinoid chemicals.1 The two main cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The most commonly known of the two is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis.2
The main difference between the two cannabinoids is that THC has strong psychoactive effects, meaning it makes a person ‘high’, whereas CBD is thought to have an anti-psychoactive effect that controls or moderates the ‘high’ caused by the THC. CBD is also thought to reduce some of the other negative effects that people can experience from THC, such as anxiety.3