For decades, most cannabis enthusiasts didn’t know much about the plant besides THC content and the difference between indica and sativa. Nowadays, the cannabis community is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of terpenes in determining the taste and fragrance of different strains. But if you’re a newer CBD consumer rather than a seasoned cannabis fan, you may be scratching your head wondering what these terpenes are and what they do.
Join us as we take a closer look at these essential compounds and find out how they can benefit CBD consumers.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that plants produce to attract pollinators and repel insects that would prey on them. Terpenes also help protect plants from excessive ultraviolet radiation. So far, scientists have identified over 30,000 plant terpenes.
While plants produce terpenes for different reasons, humans benefit from them through the delightful flavors and aromas of our favorite vegetables, fruits, and culinary herbs. Terpenes are also responsible for the wonderful fragrances of flowers, including hemp and cannabis buds.
When Were Terpenes Discovered?
Since ancient times, humans have extracted essential oils from plants for use in medicines, perfumes, and religious rituals. However, the discovery of terpene molecules didn’t occur until the 1800s. German chemist August Kekulé coined the term “terpene” to describe the aromatic plant compounds. The scientist derived the name from the word “terpentine,” an antiquated spelling of “turpentine,” a strong-smelling painting solvent derived from pine resin.
In the 1950s, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist named Leopold Ružička advanced the study of terpenes when he discovered the “biogenetic isoprene rule.” Since then, we’ve been able to isolate terpenes to manufacture items ranging from pharmaceuticals to perfumes to cleaning products.
Therapeutic Benefits of Terpenes
Each terpene has unique properties, but there are some therapeutic benefits that most have in common, such as:
- Eliminating free radicals
- Reducing inflammation
- Fighting harmful microorganisms
- Aiding digestion
- Helping to combat cancer and diabetes
One thing that terpenes won’t do is get you high. Although a few terpenes can bind to endocannabinoid receptors directly, they have not been found to produce any intoxicating effects. We’ll talk more about the benefits and effects of terpenes when we discuss them individually.
What Types of CBD Products Contain Terpenes?
Hemp flowers, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum CBD products feature terpenes. CBD hemp flowers and full-spectrum CBD products contain all of the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes in cannabis, including up to .3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Broad-spectrum products, sometimes called THC-free or zero-THC, feature all of the compounds except the THC.
Raw flowers, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD products give consumers an enhanced therapeutic benefit known as the entourage effect. When hemp compounds work together, they balance each other and become much more effective.
Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products come in many varieties, including:
- Tinctures and oils
- CBD vape cartridges
- CBD kief, hash, and other whole-plant concentrates
- CBD pre-rolls
- CBD isolates don’t have terpenes, but they can be better choices for people who must pass frequent drug screenings. Isolates are also convenient for adding to foods, beverages, and cosmetics.
10 Most Abundant Terpenes in Hemp and CBD Oil
Although researchers have identified over 200 terpenes in hemp plants, only a handful show up in high quantities. Each terpene boils at a different temperature, so you may wish to experiment with a dry herb vaporizer or vape pen to distinguish them individually.
Nicknamed the “couch-lock terpene,” myrcene is thought to be responsible for the profoundly relaxing effects of indica-dominant strains. Myrcene has an earthy aroma with hints of mango and wild berries. If you’re interested in getting the full flavor of myrcene, try vaping your hemp flowers or CBD oil at lower temperature settings.
Beta-caryophyllene is one of the few terpenes that can create a direct bond with endocannabinoid receptors. This terpene has a spicy flavor and shows up in abundant quantities in cinnamon, clove, and black pepper. Beta-caryophyllene boils at around 248°F (120°C), so set your vape pen or dry herb vape at the lowest setting.
Every time you peel an orange or slice a lemon, you’ll notice the smell of limonene. Limonene promotes a positive mental outlook. The terpene also has strong antimicrobial properties and is featured in many household cleaning products. Dial your vape to around 350°F (177°C) to get a taste of citrusy limonene.
The distinct aromas of hops, sage, and Chinese ginseng all depend upon humulene. Research has found that humulene has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and may act as an appetite suppressant. Humulene turns to vapor at 222.8°F (106°C), so set your vape at the lowest temperature.
The calming terpene linalool shows up in abundant quantities in purple flowers like lavender and lilac. To enjoy linalool’s subtle fragrance, set your vaporizer around 388°F (198°C).
As the name suggests, pinene can be found in pine and other conifer trees. You’ll also find pinene in herbs like rosemary, basil, and parsley. Some studies have concluded that pinene may help improve cognition and memory. If you’re tasting a strain with a lot of pinene, try vape temps around 312°F (156°C).
Alpha-bisabolol is largely responsible for the relaxing effects and subtle fragrance of camomile flowers. Researchers think that alpha-bisabolol may also help reduce inflammation, heal the skin, and ease body aches. Use vape temps around 304°F (151°C) to get the most out of alpha-bisabolol.
Terpinolene has a woody, herbal flavor with floral and citrus overtones. You can get an excellent idea of how terpinolene tastes by vaping the Jack Herer strain at 365°F (185°C). Terpinolene may help protect the heart and combat tumor growth.
The unmistakable aroma of eucalyptol comes from salvia and eucalyptus. Manufacturers often include eucalyptol in mouthwashes and cough medicines as the terpene has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Try vape temps around 341°F (172°C) for strains containing eucalyptol terpenes.
Plants as diverse as mint, mangos, and orchids all contain an abundance of ocimene. This terpene has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ocimene has the lowest boiling point of all the terpenes on our list at 212°F (100°C), which is the same as water.
5 Terpene-Rich Hemp Flower Strains
Sour Space Candy
The terpene profile offered by sativa-dominant Sour Space Candy gives the strain a taste that many consumers describe as otherworldly. The terpenes in Sour Space Candy impart sweet and sour fruity flavors and aromas.
Terpenes in Sour Space Candy:
Terpene-rich Pineberry emits a refreshing blend of earthy woodland aromas with strong wild berry notes, making it a favorite strain among hemp flower enthusiasts.
Terpenes in Pineberry:
Indica-dominant Bubba Kush offers profound relaxation and a complex blend of flavors. The strain’s terpene profile presents minty chocolate notes and a pungent diesel fragrance. Organic CBD Nugs offers the Bubba Kush strain in several presentations, including loose hemp flower, pre-rolls, and delta-8 vape cartridges.
Terpenes in Bubba Kush:
Sativa-dominant Fruity Pebbles will brighten your day with a sweet rainbow of tropical fruit and berry flavors. Overtones of citrus and a hint of spice highlight the strain’s taste and aroma.
Terpenes in Fruity Pebbles:
Pineapple Haze hemp flower is a relatively balanced hybrid with a 60:40 sativa-to-indica ratio, making it a useful everyday strain. Hints of cinnamon and cedar punctuate the strain’s overall pineapple flavor.
Terpenes in Pineapple Haze: