Terpenes: What is it and how does it work?

Terpenes image

Hemp is a versatile plant that consists of a wide range of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, each contributing to its unique properties and potential benefits. 

Terpenes, however, are a diverse class of organic compounds that are responsible for the natural aromas and flavors of hemp plants. Terpenes are also found in cannabis plants and they are responsible for giving a cannabis strain its distinct aroma and flavour. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of hemp terpenes, exploring what they are, how they work, and their potential impact on the human body.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are a diverse class of organic compounds found in various plants, including hemp and cannabis. They are responsible for a plant’s distinct aromas and flavors, making them the compounds behind the wide range of scents that you might associate with different hemp-derived CBD and THC products. 

However, beyond their aromatic and flavorful contributions, terpenes are also known for their potential therapeutic properties. 

Some hemp terpenes can have relaxing and sedative effects, while others can uplift mood or provide anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

How many terpenes are there?

Image showing the all the major terpenes present in hemp-derived CBD oil

There are over 20,000 different terpenes identified in nature and around 100 of these have been discovered in hemp. Each hemp strain can have a unique terpene profile, which contributes to its distinct properties. 

Some of the most common terpenes found in hemp include:

  1. Myrcene: It is recognized for its earthy and musky aroma and it also has relaxing and sedative effects. Myrcene is also known for its potential to increase the permeability of cell membranes, which can enhance the absorption of cannabinoids.
  2. Limonene: Limonene offers a citrusy, lemon-like scent and is associated with mood elevation and stress relief. It is also considered to have potential anti-anxiety properties.
  3. Pinene: With a distinct pine-like fragrance, pinene can have anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help improve alertness and focus.
  4. Caryophyllene: Exhibiting a spicy, peppery scent, caryophyllene is recognized for its potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It’s unique among terpenes because it can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system by binding to CB2 receptors.
  5. Linalool: Linalool carries a floral aroma and is considered to have calming and sedative properties. It also possesses anti-anxiety potential.

Nevertheless, the research on the effects of hemp plant terpenes is still in early stages and more studies are needed to understand the impact of a wide range of terpenes.

What do terpenes do?

Terpenes have several essential functions. First and foremost, terpenes act as a natural defense mechanism for plants, producing scents and flavors that deter herbivores and pests, helping protect the plant from harm. 

On the other hand, certain terpenes attract pollinators like bees, facilitating the plant’s reproduction. Additionally, terpenes can also assist in temperature regulation within the plant and protect it from environmental stressors.

In the context of hemp, terpenes are more than just contributors to aroma and flavor. They also interact with other compounds in hemp, particularly with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to create what’s known as “the entourage effect” within your body. 

This interaction can enhance the therapeutic benefits of the plant compounds.

How do terpenes affect the body?

Terpenes can affect your body in various ways, primarily through their interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex regulatory system in the body that plays a role in maintaining homeostasis.

Terpenes can modulate the ECS by influencing the activity of receptors and enzymes within this system which in turn can affect your mood, pain, sleep, and stress levels.

Terpenes, when taken with cannabinoids can offer a range of potential benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, anxiety-reducing, and sleep-promotion.

Are terpenes safe?

Terpenes are generally considered safe when consumed in the quantities that are naturally present in hemp and other plants.

However, isolated terpenes or terpene-rich extracts can be potent and should be used with caution, especially when inhaled or ingested in large quantities. Mainly because no research has been conducted on its effects yet.

Some terpenes can also cause irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Terpenes are typically found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts of hemp and hemp-derived products. These products contain natural levels of terpenes, which are safe for consumption.

Final thoughts

Hemp terpenes are fascinating compounds that contribute not only to the sensory experience of using hemp-derived CBD and THC products but also to its overall therapeutic benefits. 

As research on terpenes continues, we will learn more about their specific roles and effects, further enhancing our understanding of hemp plants and their potential to improve our well-being.


The information in this article is intended for general use only and may not always be appropriate for everyone’s needs. Your health and wellness are unique to you, so before acting on anything we say, seek personalized advice from a medical professional.

We value the accuracy and editorial integrity of all our articles, and we strive to ensure that the content we publish is accurate and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge.

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