CBD Terpenes: Their Role and What They Are

CBD Terpenes: Their Role and What They Are

Reprinted with kind permission of Elixinol

by Dr. Philip Blair, MD

In the world of CBD, we speak and write often about the compounds that naturally occur in the industrial hemp plant, like cannabinoids and terpenes. But what are CBD terpenes, and what is their role?

We know that cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) interact with the neurologic, immune, endocrine and human endocannabinoid system (ECS). We also have proof that the ECS maintains homeostasis in the body when it's properly nourished.

Terpenes, on the other hand, are potent chemical compounds that give plants their special aromas, colors, and flavors as well as much of their health benefits. They're produced by most plants and even some animals, such as termites and swallowtail butterflies.

Have you ever wondered why the spruce tree smells different than the cedar–even though they're both evergreens? Both trees have a unique terpene profile, which yields a characteristic scent.

Terpenes are one of the major components of essential oils. They evaporate quickly and easily absorbed; because of this, they are used frequently in aromatherapy, perfume, food additives, and even topical skin balms. Terpenes come in a wide range of varieties; some are even thought to have nutritive benefits. (Vitamin A is a type of terpene, for instance.)

Many foods we encounter on a daily basis contain terpenes that may provide many of the health benefits we receive from nutritious food; for example, maple syrup has over 300 different types of terpenes.

Terpenes are usually organized into categories based on their molecular makeup. These groups are monoterpenes, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. Overall, terpenes are one of the most populous types of plant chemicals. There are around 20,000 different types of terpenes in the world.

And, like the evergreen trees, each plant species has its own unique blend and ratio of terpenes, called a terpene profile. This ratio is what determines the uni characteristics of each plant.

How Many Terpenes Are Found in Full-Spectrum CBD Hemp Oil?

Hemp has over 200 different types of terpenes, and each hemp cultivar has its own unique terpene profile.

Let's explore some of the terpenes most commonly found in hemp.

  • Beta-Caryophyllene (BCP) is the only terpene that directly interacts with a cannabinoid receptor, CB2, in the body's endocannabinoid system. It's is commonly found in hemp, basil, oregano, black pepper, and various green, leafy vegetables. BCP is the very first FDA-approved dietary cannabinoid and is frequently used as a food additive. BCP may alleviate temporary symptoms of inflammation.
  • Pinene is one of the more recognizable terpenes. It's also found in conifers, rosemary, and sage. Pinene is frequently used by plants to deter insects and animals. There is current research on Pinene's high antibacterial properties. It is also known to promote focus and alertness.

  • Limonene is a terpene found in hemp, peppermint, juniper, and many citrus fruits. It is the second-most commonly found terpene. Limonene is known for promoting a relaxed state and a sense of well-being.

  • Myrcene is found in menthol, basil, thyme, hops, mangoes, hemp, and lemongrass. It is widely used in perfumes. Myrcene supports a relaxed state. It also increases cell membrane permeability, allowing for higher bioavailability of cannabinoids.

  • Linalool may promote a sense of well-being, as well as alleviating temporary symptoms of inflammation. Aside from hemp, it's commonly found in lavender, rosemary, coriander, and oregano.

  • Nerolidol is one of the most molecularly stable of all the terpenes. It is often found in tea tree, jasmine, ginger, and citrus fruit peelings.

  • Caryophyllene-Oxide has a distinctive, woodsy scent and is most commonly found in hemp, rosemary, cloves, hops, and basil.

Full-Spectrum CBD Preserves Hemp's Full Terpene Profile

The number of terpenes found in CBD oil is determined by the extraction process. This is one of the reasons Elixinol uses a supercritical CO2 extraction technique; it's a clean process that allows for the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients in hemp to be preserved.

Our CBD's rich terpene profile is what gives it its distinctive amber color, as well as its aromatic flavor and scent. In fact, the color of Elixinol CBD is one of the factors evaluated during our third-party laboratory testing process. (You can even see the lab's evaluation of the color of each batch and lot of our CBD products in the Certificates of Analysis available on our site.)

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