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What Are Terpenes and How Do They Work?

When it comes to plants, it’s often the scents that we notice first. But the different scents and flavors are not just a way to tell them apart. It also determines what kind of medicinal role that each plant has to offer. When you smell a plant, what’s giving off that scent is something known as a terpene. And it has more to offer than just a distinct smell. Terpenes play an important role in the effects that a CBD product has on you.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are natural essential oils found in all plants, flowers, vegetables and herbs. When you smell the fragrance of peppermint and lemons, you’re actually smelling the terpenes limonene and myrcene. The cannabis plant is no exception.  CBD products made from full spectrum hemp extract have natural terpenes in them as well.

Each individual terpene has its own unique properties. While still in the plant, they help protect the plant from various threats, like fungus and insects.. Although more than 200 types of terpenes have been identified, not all of them have the same kind of value or effects. Only a few have risen to the top of the list as having useful therapeutic properties. Because of their potential therapeutic value, terpenes have become one of the biggest areas of interest for cannabis researchers.

How Do They Work?

When combined with CBD, the therapeutic properties of terpenes can benefit users by binding to neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain. They can increase dopamine activity or enhance norepinephrine activity. Some terpenes can help us relax and others can help boost our energy. Research has found that terpenes directly affect the brain’s neurotransmitters in many different ways. 

The medical cannabis industry is interested in seeing how to use this new information to improve results with cannabis products. One of the benefits of terpenes in high-THC cannabis is that they can help balance the psychoactive effects of THC and decrease the anxiety associated with it.

The much talked-about “entourage effect,” in which all of the natural compounds from the plant work together, was long thought to be associated only with high-THC cannabis. But more recently, researchers have found that the extract from hemp plants can also produce the entourage effect and a wide spectrum of health and wellness benefits.

What Terpenes are Commonly Found in CBD Oil?

Full spectrum CBD oil products contain various terpenes in addition to the naturally-occurring cannabinoids and flavonoids. The specific terpenes in a CBD product depends on the strain of the hemp that was used to make it. The amount of each terpene can also depend on the extraction method that was used by the manufacturer.

The “terpene profile” section of third-party lab reports will tell you exactly which terpenes are in a particular CBD product. These lab results are available on the website of all reputable CBD brands. The terpenes that are in a product can provide some insight into the product’s potential effects and benefits.

Here’s a quick look at some of the terpenes that are often found in CBD products along with their common uses. Learning more about the properties of different terpenes can help you choose the CBD products that may be best for you.

Terpenes in CBD Oil Graphic from CBD Oil Users

Can I Add Terpenes to CBD Oil?

It’s quite common for experienced users to add terpenes to their CBD oil products for additional desired effects. They may find that a specific terpene is particularly beneficial for them and they want higher levels than what’s in their existing CBD product. For example, some users add limonene to their CBD oil drops for its relaxation properties.

Pure terpenes can be purchased online from companies like True Terpenes and added to your existing CBD oils. You can buy individual isolated terpenes such as those listed above to take advantage of their unique effects. There are also terpene formulations available that may best fit your needs. These pure terpenes can be added directly to your bottle of CBD oil drops. A few drops is usually all it takes for an entire bottle.

When purchasing pure terpenes in undiluted form, always be sure to follow the dilution guide that will be provided by the company. Terpenes are similar to essential oils in that they should never be consumed without diluting them properly. 

What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids and cannaflavins are 2 other lesser-known components of cannabis that also play an important role in how CBD oil affects us.

Flavonoids are similar to terpenes in that they impact how cannabis smells and tastes. And just like terpenes, flavonoids are not specific to cannabis. Flavonoids are found all throughout nature in many other plants.

In addition to influencing smell and taste, they can also give plants part of their pigmentation, help protect against UV rays, and protect the plant from diseases. Flavonoids are important to the overall survival of the plant.

What are Cannaflavins?

Cannaflavins are flavonoids that are found in cannabis. Research on cannabis is limited due to its prohibition, but we do know there are around 20 different cannaflavins in cannabis. Quercetin, Apigenin, β-sitosterol are just a few. Cannaflavins A, B, and C are also cannaflavins found in cannabis. But these are unique in that they have not been discovered in any other plants and are specific to just cannabis.

Cannaflavin A has been a point of some study and is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects more potent than that of aspirin. Apigenin is believed to act on GABA receptors and have sedating or anti-anxiety effects.

Just like terpenes, cannaflavins are believed to play a role in the entourage effect by promoting a synergistic effect in the body when combined with other naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes. An interesting difference to cannabinoids, however, is that flavonoids are considered water-soluble.

How Do I Get Cannaflavins?

If you’re consuming a full spectrum CBD oil, cannaflavins should already be present. While it is now considered standard practice to provide cannabinoid and terpene profiles in third party lab reports, cannaflavins are not treated the same way. Since certain extraction methods can reduce the concentration of these components, we recommend checking for a significant presence of terpenes in any given product. If those are present, then it’s safe to assume cannaflavins probably are as well.

If you’re consuming a broad spectrum or isolate CBD product, the extract has likely been refined enough to remove the cannaflavins. Unlike terpenes that can be easily added in after the fact, flavonoids are not typically used in the same way. So if you want their benefits, stick to full spectrum oils, or seek them out in other ways by eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for ALL the effort put into providing factual, documented educational resource material for those of us who choose to use CBD Oil to treat our health challenges, be it physical or mental.

  2. The more I read, the more I learn. Thanks for the big effort on your part. Turns out 69% of all cbd oils on the market aren’t what they say they are. Definitely pays to do your research.

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