By Kristi Pahr
The cannabis plant has become well known for not only it’s psychoactive properties but also for its value as a therapeutic agent for many conditions. Cannabis is full of chemical compounds that provide benefits for overall health and well-being. Arguably the most popular of these chemical compounds is cannabidiol (CBD), with its psychoactive counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) coming in a close second. But cannabis is more than a one-trick pony and contains other compounds that may have therapeutic value — namely, terpenes.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give plants their scents and flavors. The characteristic scents of lavender, pine, orange peels, and hops are due to their terpene profile. Terpenes help attract pollinators, repel insects, and are the primary ingredients in the essential oils many people use every day.
When terpenes are included in cannabis extracts like CBD, a phenomenon called the entourage effect is triggered, which allows the compounds to work synergistically and enhance the benefits of each more so than when CBD is used as an isolate. When we consume cannabis, we are consuming a host of different compounds that each have their own therapeutic benefits but that may act differently in the presence of other compounds, so by adding specific terpenes to a CBD extract, we not only get the benefits of CBD, we get the benefits of individual and groups of terpenes and CBD working together.
The entourage effect expands the benefits of the individual compounds and provides a wider therapeutic base. Alternatively, by combining specific terpenes with similar effects, we can target more precisely the conditions we treat with CBD mixtures. Instead of a CBD isolate, which is effective against many things, blending specific terpenes means we can narrow the focus of the mixture.
Common and Emerging Terpenes
There are abundant naturally-occurring terpenes, but scientists have only just begun to study them. Terpenes are widely used in cosmetics, skincare and bath products, and perfumes as well as in the kitchen. Lemon and lime juice, black pepper, and basil are just a few of the foods we regularly use that are high in terpenes.
As common as they are elsewhere in the home, terpenes are only just finding their way into our medicine and supplement cabinets, though their use via essential oils has been growing in recent years. Broad-spectrum CBD – CBD extract that contains all the cannabis phytochemicals with the exception of THC – contains terpenes, and it’s becoming more common to see CBD isolate that has been infused with specific terpenes, too.
Among the more common terpenes found in CBD mixtures are linalool, myrcene, limonene, pinene, humulene, and caryophyllene. There is evidence that each terpene has its own unique therapeutic effects for different conditions, so when combined with CBD, they not only lend their scent and flavor to the mixture but also allow mixtures to target specific conditions.
A few of the most common terpenes found in CBD extracts are:
- Promotes restful sleep
- Enhances mood and quells feelings of anxiousness
- Protective against the health effects of chronic stress
- Potentially affects cognition
- Pain relief
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety
- Beneficial as an appetite suppressant
- Promotes restful sleep
- Helps balance blood sugar levels
- Mood elevating
- Stress relief
- May relieve heartburn and reflux
The Take Home
CBD is great, but CBD infused with terpenes allows consumers to target specific therapeutic effects for their unique conditions. By blending CBD extracts with terpenes, the entourage effect enhances the benefits not only of the CBD but of the terpenes as well and allows for a more intimate interplay between the chemicals, providing consumers with a supplement that meets their own unique needs. Ultimately, to maximize the effectiveness of your CBD, look for one that contains terpenes.
Kristi Pahr is a freelance health and wellness writer and mother of two who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She is frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, Men’s Health, and many others.