What Are Terpenes And How Do They Work?

One of the most important - or at least noticeable - components in hemp flower CBD products is terpenes, aromatic compounds found in hemp, and a variety of other plants. These aromatic compounds create the scent of many plants, such as cannabis, pine, and lavender, as well as fresh orange peel. The fragrance of most plants is due to a combination of terpenes.

In nature, terpenes protect plants from animal grazing or infectious germs. Terpenes may also offer some health benefits to the human body. As regulations surrounding cannabis become less strict, scientists are conducting further research into how terpenes help the body. Below, we take a look at terpenes and how they work in hemp flower CBD.

Terpenes: Natural Aromatic Compounds

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that determine the smell of many plants and herbs, such as rosemary, hemp, and lavender. Manufacturers use isolated terpenes to create the flavors and scents of everyday products, such as perfumes, body products, and even foods. Some of the most popular CBD products on the market contain different combinations of terpenes.

Terpenes play a vital role in plants. In some plants, terpenes attract pollinators, while in other plants, they cause a strong reaction to repel predators, such as insects or foraging animals.

Some terpenes play a protective role in the plant, helping the plant recover from damage; others act as a part of the plant’s immune system to keep away infectious germs.

3 Common Types of Terpenes

1. Limonene

Aside from CBD, limonene is in the rinds of fruit. This terpene gives them a citrusy smell. But it does a lot more than offer a pleasant scent. Limonene has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antidiabetic, and anticancer properties. It has also shown some effectiveness in aiding weight loss and healing peptic ulcers. Plus, it helps with stress relief and combatting depression symptoms.

2. Alpha-Pinene

Alpha-pinene is one of the most common terpenes in the world and is in pine needles, rosemary, and basil, in addition to CBD. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties, and it works as a bronchodilator, which means it quickly opens up the airway passages in emergencies like an asthma attack. Alpha-pinene also helps with pain relief, aids memory, and boosts energy levels.

3. Myrcene

Myrcene has more of a musky scent and is most common in modern commercial cannabis. It’s a truly versatile terpene with antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. It’s also an analgesic, which means it helps reduce pain and inflammation. Additionally, myrcene has sedative effects and blocks cancer-causing properties of fungi that end up in our food. Furthermore, it guards against DNA damage and works as a cough suppressant.

Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect occurs when compounds work together to achieve an effect that would be impossible for them to achieve on their own. This accompanying effect is the sum of compounds’ effects in the relationship to each other. As such, terpenes play a key role in creating an entourage effect when using hemp flower CBD or similar products.

It is important to consider the entourage effect when researching different CBD products. For instance, 100 milligrams of synthetic single-molecule CBD is not equivalent to 100 milligrams of a CBD-rich whole-plant cannabis extract. You need to know the difference and how these compounds affect your body. 

Health Benefits of Terpenes

Terpenes have a range of possible health benefits, including

  • Increase the blood-brain barrier permeability
  • Improve how THC binds to cannabinoid receptors
  • Suppress the short-term memory loss associated with THC use
  • Promotes anti-inflammatory responses
  • Reduced risk of developing skin cancer 
  • Improving heart health
  • Reduced stress and anxiety

It is important to take this information with a grain of salt. Most studies into terpenes and health have been performed on animal models and with isolated compounds. We still need more research on the complex web of interactions between terpenes and cannabinoids. Anecdotal evidence in aromatherapy patients, however, shows terpenes have many health benefits.

Do Terpenes Get You High?

Terpenes won’t make you feel high in the traditional sense. Still, some are psychoactive because they affect the brain. While terpenes aren’t intoxicating on their own, some think they may impact the effects of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the high feeling from cannabis.

Many cannabis connoisseurs and budtenders say that consumers place far too much emphasis on THC content when choosing a strain. Instead, they recommend focusing more on specific terpene profiles to get their desired effects. Research suggests that some terpenes could have potential benefits for certain mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

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