Terpenes 101: Cannabis Terpenes & Their Benefits Explained Simply

Terpenes 101: Cannabis Terpenes & Their Benefits Explained Simply

Even with a blindfold over your eyes and your hands behind your back, your nose can tell the difference between a lemon and a rose, right? Or between a piece of blue vein cheese and a little eucalyptus oil. And that’s because they each have their own unique mix of terpenes. 

So let’s talk about terpenes because they’ve got a surprisingly strong connection to hemp and CBD. 

What are terpenes and do they matter?

Terpenes are highly aromatic oils found naturally in plants and some animals. They are highly volatile, which means they easily evaporate at room temperature. Which is why they emit smells. Which reach the olfactory sensors in your nose. 

It’s terpenes that give the lemon, the rose, the camphor and the eucalyptus oil their own unmistakable smells. And, although many folk have never heard of them, a scientist by the name of Leopold Ruzicka earned himself the 1939 Nobel Prize in Chemistry because of his pioneering work on terpenes. Yep, they’ve been studied for a long time! 

Terpenes (or terps for short) are what give fruit and veggies - and cannabis strains - their unique smells. Ditto for herbs and spices. It’s the terpenes that help make our food appealing. Imagine eating a meal that has no smell. No thanks! 

CannabisReports.org tells us that “Terpenes are arguably the most diverse class of natural products. Cannabis plants have more than 200 terpenes that have been identified, though only a handful have been studied.” [1] 

In nature as a whole, over 55,000 terpenes have already been identified [2] with more being found regularly.

Chemically they are hydrocarbons (which means they are made up of only carbon and hydrogen).

But terpenes don't just give us a range of smells, they also deliver a range of different effects. More on that in a moment. 

Even more curiously, the effects of a terpene can change when it’s in with other compounds. That, of course, makes the research somewhat tricky but a lot of work is going on to improve our understanding of these amazing plant chemicals and how to use them for human wellness.

Cannabinoids and terpenes work in synergy, causing more benefits than you would experience when only using one cannabinoid such as CBD. [3] 

So what do terpenes do?

As it turns out, they do a lot, including…

  • They protect plants by repelling insects and herbivores. They also protect plants against bacteria, fungus, and other environmental stresses. 
  • They attract pollinators to plants. 
  • They give our various foods their distinctive aromas. Imagine eating a bowl of spaghetti that had no smell! 
  • They give essential oils their aromas, thus giving rise to aromatherapy and other holistic healing therapies. 
  • Without terpenes, there’d be no perfumes or colognes and there’d be no fragrance industry.

But terpenes are not just about aromatic profiles. They also contribute to health outcomes, so let’s go there now.

Any health benefits?

Yes. Terps are biologically active. They act on our bodily systems to help regulate things like sleep, appetite, mood, and motor control. And incidentally, terpenes are not addictive. [4] 

In the case of cannabis products, terpenes inhibit THC’s intoxicating effect, which “increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to [relieve] pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy and even cancer.” [5] 

But they don't just inhibit the effects of other cannabis components. Terpenes also enhance them. For example, caryophyllene delivers an anti-inflammatory effect, linalool is believed to be relaxing, terpinolene has an uplifting effect both physically and mentally. And on it goes -- different terpenes, different effects. 

  • Relaxing sedative-type effects can come from myrcene which smells like musk or clove.
  • Mental alertness and improved memory retention are aided by pinene, which smells piney. 
  • An uplift in mood and attitude is promoted by limonene, the terpene that smells like lemons. 

But there’s one thing terpenes will NOT do. They won't make you ‘high’ because they are not psychoactive. [6]  If anything, they will reduce the THC effect that’s in full-spectrum CBD products. 

So terpenes contribute to the entourage effect?

Yes. The entourage effect is a fancy way of saying that all the components of a particular plant, cannabis in this case, work better together rather than isolated. Combined, the ingredients produce a better outcome. I’ll give you an example.

One of the cannabis terpenes mentioned earlier, called limonene, has a zesty citrus flavor. [7] Considering the name, it’s no surprise to learn it’s also the main terpene in lemons. Research has found that limonene is helpful against anxiety and depression [8] -- just like CBD is. So they work synergistically, both helping to achieve the relief the consumer wants. 

As CrescoLabs.com explains, “Terpenes can also modify how much of each cannabinoid is absorbed. This means the presence of certain terpenes can increase or decrease the amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC is absorbed, effectively controlling the potency.” [9] 

So your little terpene is quite a remarkable fellow, isn't he? 

Terpenes interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce their health and healing effects. By way of a refresher, the ECS is a biological system that helps regulate homeostasis (or, balance within your body’s many systems) -- and as such it’s controlling your feeling of wellness.

Dr. Michael Cole goes as far as to say, “Terpenes are the mainstay of cannabis ensemble or entourage benefits. Without them, cannabinoids would lack the synergistic benefits that make their healing effects pronounced and sustained.” [10] 

Can terpenes really fight pain?

A growing body of research says, yes! Here’s a short list of terpenes that are understood to work on pain: 
Myrcene, caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, pinene. [11] There’s also humulene and terpinolene. [12] 

Are there terpenes in Go Hemp’s products?

Yes indeed. As natural components from the hemp plant, terpenes are an important feature of our products, including…

Broad Spectrum Hemp Pain Relief Roll-on Gel

Broad Spectrum Hemp Gummies

Broad Spectrum Hemp Softgels


[1] https://cannabisreports.org/terpenes-and-terpenoids-the-ultimate-guide/
[2] https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-642-22144-6_120
[3] https://www.cbdbiocare.com/blogs/articles/pure-natural-cbd-oil
[4] https://formulaswiss.com/blogs/cbd/hemp-history-and-uses
[5] https://www.substancemarket.com/terpenes-terpenoids/
[6] https://weedmaps.com/learn/cannabis-and-your-body/terpenes-entourage-effect
[7] https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/limonene/
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3598547/
[9] https://www.crescolabs.com/terpenes/
[10] https://cannabistraininguniversity.com/blog/medical-marijuana/list-terpenes-benefits/
[11] https://cannabistraininguniversity.com/blog/medical-marijuana/pain-fighting-terpenes/
[12] https://cannigma.com/plant/a-brief-history-of-terpenes/


By WriterGary.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.*

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