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What are CBD Terpenes, and How Do They Impact a Product?

May 27, 2021 | CBD, CBD Food, Terpenes

While many hemp users think that CBD is the only compound in the plant worth exploring, the reality is that industrial hemp naturally contains hundreds of individual compounds, each having their own properties that could be potentially useful to the human body.  Cannabinoids are a class of compounds that are unique to hemp, with CBD (cannabidiol) being the most dominant of the plant, but another class of compounds is also important to consider, which is terpenes.  Terpenes, unlike cannabinoids, aren’t unique to the hemp plant, and are in fact present in all plant life.

Terpenes actually play a major role in the way in which a CBD product affects us, which is why we will be taking a closer look at them today. 

Understanding the Basics of Terpenes

Terpenes are compound that, as we said earlier, exist in all plant life.  They are the compounds that we benefit from when we use essential oils. We consume them daily as they exist in vegetables, fruits and herbs that are in our diet.  Terpenes play the important role of determining the flavor and smell of a particular plant. They are what makes flowers smell intoxicating, and vegetables satisfy our taste buds.  But they do a lot more than that.

Terpenes are rich in natural properties that can be useful to the human body.  Many of the terpenes in plants exist to keep the plant safe from harm. They fend off diseases, pests and other factors that could threaten their existence.  When we extract terpenes from plant material we get to experience these properties for ourselves. Many terpenes have effects that can reduce inflammation, pain, and even stress.

In the hemp plant, there are hundreds of individual terpenes that each bring something unique to the table.  The terpenes in hemp also provide cannabis with its unique taste and aroma, as well as the color of the plant.

Terpenes in Relation to Strains

Maybe you have heard people discuss different strains of the hemp plant.  The strain is another term for the breed of the hemp plant. Once upon a time, breed selection was limited and based on the geographic location of the hemp plant.  Nowadays, we have advanced technology that allows breeders to create strains by crossing two different breeds together.  

The strain of the hemp plant determines a good portion of its specific effects.  For instance, some strains are commonly used by people looking for stress relief. Others are prescribed to those with pain conditions.  The strain’s properties come largely from its terpenes. Each strain has a unique configuration of terpenes in the overall chemical composition.

There are three types of strains, each containing an ever-growing variety of individual strains within the category.  

  • Indica strains are known for being more calming, as they contain higher levels of myrcene, a terpene known for its relaxing effects.  
  • Sativa strains are more energizing because they have terpenes in them that can be uplifting and cognitive-boosting.
  • Hybrid strains are the result of crossing an indica with sativa so that the effects are more balanced between the two.

Most Sought-After Terpenes in the Hemp Plant 

While there are hundreds of terpenes that can exist in hemp, these are the ones that are more abundant than others. They are also more sought-after by hemp enthusiasts.  Remember that while terpenes are present in hemp, the exact levels of each one depends on the strain you choose. For instance, some strains have high limonene levels, while others have a small amount of limonene.

  • Pinene: Gives hemp its pine-like flavor notes and offers uplifting properties that may produce feelings of euphoria and bliss.
  • Limonene: Very abundant in citrus fruits and gives hemp its zesty taste.  This is another energizing, uplifting terpene, and may offer some form of pain relief.
  • Linaloool: Commonly associated with lavender, it has a woody, floral flavor and aroma, and offers calming effects while acting as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Eucalyptol: Like the eucalyptus plant that has high levels of the terpene, this one can be energizing and may also offer help in the focus and concentration department.  Furthermore, it may also have analgesic properties.
  • Borneol: Might be able to provide antispasmodic properties, as it has been used for centuries as an aid for muscle spasms.
  • Humulene: Abundant in hops, it may help suppress appetite.
  • Camphene: Noted for its antioxidant activity and is abundant in pine needles.
  • Caryophyllene: An immensely popular terpene noted for its calming properties coupled with its potential anti-inflammatory activity.
  • Myrcene: A terpene that is more abundant in indica strains and has calming effects.

Using Your Knowledge of Terpenes to Pick the Right Strain for You

Now that you know a bit more about terpenes, you can start to select a strain based on what you’re trying to get out of the hemp plant.  

  • Decide whether you want an indica, sativa, or hybrid option based on the type of experience that you’re looking for. 
  • Once you know what type of experience you want. Whether it be calming, uplifting, or pain-relieving, you can research the strains that are available. Find out which one is most likely to deliver the properties that you’re looking for.  
  • Many people find that they want to experiment with different strains before figuring out which one gives them the experience that they’re trying to achieve.
  • Keep in mind that not all products allow you to choose from a variety of strains.  Products made with CBD isolate do not contain any terpenes. It is rare to find tinctures and edibles that let you choose from various strain options.  Most commonly, flower and vape products give you a nice array of strains to choose from.

Overall, the terpenes in the hemp plant have quite an impact in terms of effects. They act alongside cannabinoids like CBD to determine the properties that the plant can offer you.  Terpenes are important as they determine the strain of the plant, and different strains can yield different responses in the body.  Apply this information when shopping for CBD in order to find a strain that can suit your more particular needs.

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