A picture of a hemp plant, which produces CBD terpenes, planted in a blue pot.

Okay, But What Are CBD Terpenes, Actually?

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As products of nature, most CBD oils for sale carry a distinctive fragrance. While some CBD users find the earthy, botanical scent of CBD oil to be pleasing, others are far less enthusiastic. As a result, many CBD products feature added ingredients that deliberately mask the cannabinoid’s natural odor and flavor.

While we’ll likely never understand what makes CBD’s terpene smell so polarizing, we do understand the science behind CBD’s organic musk. German chemist August Kekulé identified “terpenes” as the compounds responsible for plant aromas in 1866. Since then, scientists have been endlessly fascinated with the complex world of botanical fragrances and the benefits of CBD terpenes.

Like most botanical products, CBD contains a wealth of terpenes. But beyond shaping the scents of these products, do terpenes in CBD oil have any greater significance?

Let’s find out!

Terpenes: An Introduction

In purely scientific terms, terpenes are a group of highly aromatic organic compounds produced by plants, including fruits, vegetables, and other flora. You’re probably well-acquainted with many terpenes: limonene is responsible for the distinctive citrus aromas found throughout nature, while linalool is commonly used to add lavender fragrances to cosmetic products.

However, terpenes don’t exist purely for our enjoyment: instead, they act as natural defense mechanisms. By releasing terpenes, plants can attract predators and ward off herbivorous (plant-eating) life forms who are threatened by those predators.

CBD terpenes aren’t the only terpenes out there. There are thousands of terpenes in existence, and many are present within the cannabis and hemp plants that are used to produce CBD products for sale. Most CBD terpenes are found in a thick, gooey substance called resin which is produced by small glands in cannabis and hemp flowers called “trichomes.”

Although you might think of the syrup-like, terpene-rich resin as cannabis or hemp’s “essential oil,” the substance also contains many other components, including cannabinoids and flavonoids. When combined, all three plant-based constituents synergize to amplify the benefits of CBD and become more than the sum of their parts.

A group of men sit on the ledge of a hill and laugh together.

CBD Terpene Benefits

While we’ve spent the bulk of this post so far covering terpene fragrances, CBD terpenes aren’t purely aromatic. In fact, the benefits of CBD terpenes may reach far beyond the sense. Researchers have noted, for example, that the terpenes found in hemp and cannabis possess pharmacological properties, meaning that they have a pronounced effect on the brain.

The authors of a scientific literature review from 2011 drew attention to a study from 1993 in which mice were exposed to some of the terpenes found in cannabis and hemp plants for one hour. After the session, the mice demonstrated altered activity levels, despite the limited nature and “extremely low serum concentrations” of their exposure.

The same review also highlighted the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties of citrus oils that contain the terpene limonene. In one study, depressed hospital patients exposed to citrus fragrances experienced a measurable reduction in depression levels (via the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression).

Aside from limonene, research has corroborated the benefits of other CBD terpenes, too. Myrcene, one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and hemp, has been proven to reduce inflammation, relax muscles, and act as a sedative.

Given these studies (and many more), it’s clear that the benefits of CBD terpenes extend far beyond their pleasant smells!

The Most Popular Terpenes

Various terpenes play vital roles in shaping the aroma and properties of CBD. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most abundant CBD terpenes, as well as their distinctive characteristics.

Limonene

Found naturally in limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, limonene is responsible for the sharp, tangy smell of citrus in fruits and many other plants, including hemp and cannabis. Aside from its unmistakable odor, limonene seems to improve the absorption of topical CBD and can improve the perceived benefits of CBD terpenes.

Linalool

Linalool’s natural aroma is unmistakably spicy and floral. It’s found in a variety of spices and flowers, most notably lavender. In mice studies, researchers have verified the sedative properties of linalool’s fragrance.

Beta-Caryophyllene

Given its dry, sharp fragrance, most people would probably be surprised to discover that beta-caryophyllene is one of the main CBD terpenes. Still, it’s difficult to turn up your nose at this terpene’s mood-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pinene

For some people, breathing in the fresh, woody aroma of pine forests is invigorating. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that pinene — the terpene responsible for pine scents — has been proven to promote alertness. One study found that pinene could even improve mental clarity by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme found in the body.

Myrcene

Myrcene’s distinctive pungent and earthy fragrance notes can be detected in plants like lemongrass, thyme, and hops. It’s also one of the most abundant CBD terpenes, and one that’s ideal for stress reduction and promoting restful sleep.

A woman shops for CBD terpenes on her phone.

Buying Terpene-Rich CBD: What to Look For

Although scientists have outlined many CBD terpene benefits, capitalizing on them is a different matter. Sadly, not all CBD products are rich with terpenes, and depending on how they’re manufactured, some CBD products might not contain any terpenes at all.

If you’re looking to maximize the terpene content of your next CBD purchase, your best bet is to purchase high-quality, organic CBD that’s produced via CO2 extraction. Unlike CBD products that are extracted with solvents like hexane and pentane, supercritical CO2 extraction utilizes gaseous CO2 to extract CBD from cannabis and hemp plants while retaining more terpenes overall.

Other than evaluating CBD terpene content, you should also consider the following criteria when choosing a CBD product:

  • Ingredients: Most CBD oils contain a base oil ingredient that “carries” the CBD. However, if there’s more than one oil listed on a CBD product, it might be indicative of product filler. The best CBD oils and products should contain a recognizable, simplified list of ingredients.
  • Product strength: Choosing a higher-potency CBD product doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a higher concentration of CBD terpenes. Instead, opt for a CBD product strength that meets your needs and wellness goals.

Discover the Benefits of Terpenes and CBD at Kratora

With a medley of mouth-watering flavors to choose from, Kratora is your online destination for high-quality CBD. Shop our selection of CBD oils, all-natural kratom powders, and kratom alternatives today and get free priority shipping when you spend $50 or more (USA customers only).

None of the products sold on our website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.