What Are Terpenes?

If you think of lemons and hemp, what connects these two? Not much right? 

The aroma of citrus and hemp is both unique, and if you smell or taste it, you can be sure of what it is without seeing it. The primary reason for these intense flavours and aroma is due to terpenes.

Also know as terps, terpenes oil is loved by cannabis enthusiasts to boost the flavour and effect of cannabis or hemp.

What is a terpene?

Terpenes definition: A terpene (referred to as a terpenoid when exposed to oxidisation), is an aromatic metabolite found in the oils of all plants but located in highly concentrated volumes in hemp and marijuana. 

Secreted through plant trichomes, the production of terpenoids evolved over time to originally act as defence against herbivores and to attract pollinators. 

Nowadays, terpenes are isolated through the steam distillation of plants and trees such as lavender or pine trees due to cost efficiencies vs cannabis.

These compounds are known to have specific benefits when used, and some you are probably more familiar with than you know – for example Linalool from lavender, is known for being relaxing with its distinct aroma.

What are terpenes in CBD?

The variety of terpene aroma and flavour profiles is impressive on its own, but arguably the most compelling trait of terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

As a result, these compounds are said to play a critical role in defining the effects of different strains of cannabis. 

In respect to CBD, terpenes are found in both full and broad spectrum CBD products. 

Although, they are most commonly found in CBD oils, either as a direct component on the hemp the CBD is extracted from or as an addition from plant derived terpenes.

The importance of these compounds is clear through research and anecdotal reports, suggesting using CBD Isolate based products is far less effective than using a product with a broader cannabinoid profile boosted with terpenes.

Terpenes and other essential oils are left behind in products which are considered full spectrum or broad spectrum

Research indicates that these products could prove much more useful than isolated CBD, primarily due to them being partially responsible for ‘the entourage effect’, where synergies between cannabinoids and terpenes are thought to increase overall efficacy.

This effect is one of the reasons full and broad spectrum are the two most popular formats of CBD. 

Nonetheless, adding terpenes to products which are not cannabis related or lack a particular profile is becoming more common too. 

Especially in the use of CBD concentrates, and products targeting specific wellness benefits vs a generalised formula. 

Cannabis terpenes vs other plant derived

A terpene is a terpene regardless of where it comes from. Terpenoids when isolated are exactly the same compounds as each other regardless of if they come cannabis or other plants.

However, when chemists attempt to produce strain specific terpene profiles, it’s never going to be 100% the same. The reason for that is because the cannabis plant features such a variety of terpenes in minuscule amounts, mirroring them match for match is near impossible.

Outside of this, the primary difference between a product fully derived from a full spectrum cannabis plant profile is that it likely contains other beneficial compounds such as flavonoids, which are thought to have additional wellness properties when used in conjunction to cannabinoids.

Cannabis terpenes are over 10 times more expensive to produce, and if you can source terpenes derived from plants which are 95% of the way there in terms of mirroring cannabis strains for taste and effect experience, as a result it’s an excellent proxy but there will always be a very slight margin of error.

Are terpenes legal?

Terpenes do not contain cannabinoids, and are 100% legal all across the world regardless of if you produce them via cannabis or other plants!

Just be sure to look for certificates of analysis proving content if buying terpenes exclusively.

Are terpenes psychoactive?

No, they are non psychoactive and using terpenes does not mean you will experience a high.

It’s THC which is responsible for the cannabis high, and THC doesn’t feature beyond trace amount in any EU CBD oils.

Common terpenes

Below we will run through the most common terpenes found in strains of hemp. Note of the research today primarily relates to pre-clinical studies, due to the lack of research on humans.

pinene terpene
myrcene terp

Pinene: Found in pine trees, citrus fruit and cannabis. Thought to boost focus and improve wakefulness. research suggest pinene has anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties 

Myrcene: Found in mangos, lemongrass and cannabis. Thought to compliment the sedative effects of cannabis indica. Research suggests the compound has anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties.

limonene terpene
lavaender linalool

Limonene: Research suggests it has anti anxiety effects, and the promotion of inflammatory reducing effects.

Linalool: Found in lavender and cannabis, and often associated with the smell of fresh flowers and summer. Studies indicate this compound could help reduce anxiety and pain .

humulene leaves
ociemene terp

Humulene: Herbs such as basil or coriander are rich in humulene. Research indicates it could have anti-inflammatory properties.

Ocimene: Commonly found in mint, mangos and cannabis. Research indicates it could prove useful for inflammatory control and anti-fungal purposes.

caryiphyllene terp
terpinolene terp

Caryophyllene: Commonly found in cinnamon, pepper and cannabis. Research outlines positive results when used in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Terpinolene:  Found in applies, nutmeg and cannabis, known to act as a sedative when used in conjunction to cannabinoids. Found to be an antioxidant in a recent study.


How to use terpenes

When shopping for terpenes, you will notice how expensive they are, and how small the bottles are – this is because of how little you need to use.

Be responsible and always dilute terpenes before use – never use them neat!

Terpenes can be added to your usual CBD vape juice, CBD oil or concentrate. They work in synergy with the cannabinoids in your product and promote the wellness benefits of CBD.

For example, 1ml of terpenes is more than enough for between 2-10 bottles of 10ml CBD oil (depending on your preference for taste, effect).

Usually, between 1% – 5% dilution works well.

Always measure out what you intend to use and use less than you intend to at first. Give it a try, and if you like it/want to add more if you add too much the flavour can be intense, and you cannot go back without adding more vape juice/oil.

Cannabis terpene profiles

It’s common to detect multiple terpenes in cannabis and various concentrations of each. Some strains are particularly high in one particular terp, whereas others contain a more balanced combination.

Cannabis connoisseurs have long valued these terpene profiles and used them to charge up a pre-existing cannabis-based product or to add them to something completely unrelated such as a CBD bath bomb.

Some of these strain-specific profiles are reproduced as botanical blends based on plant-derived terpenes. Fortunately, this process is being mirrored in products derived from low THC hemp strains.

Slowly European brands are starting to utilise terps to create CBD oils and vapes with terpene profiles mirroring cannabis strains, for night/day and ‘feeling’ specific blends with an explosion of aroma.

Let’s run through some of the top three most popular terpene blends and why they are in such high demand.

Grandaddy purple strain

First introduced in California in 2003, Grandaddy purp (GDP) is known for being an indica heavy strain with a sweet berry taste and most people agree its relaxing.

GDP contains myrcene, caryophyllene and pinene. It’s terpene profile is responsible for being a relaxing terpene blend and is frequently added to CBD concentrates and vape oil as a night friendly option.

We are big fans of this terpene profile, and it features across our CBD concentrate assortment.

OG kush strain

Initially cultivated in Florida in the 1990s, this sativa dominant strain has an earthy taste attributed to its terps.

OGK contains myrcene, limonene and caryophyllene. It’s well established in cannabis circles as a flavourful strain, and the terpene profile suggests it has an earthy but citrusy flavour.

Again, anecdotal reports agree it’s a relaxing and soothing blend.

Pineapple express strain

The other two profiles we have mentioned in this post are geared more towards evening use.

If you are looking for a daily daytime driver, pineapple express might be the one for you!

The pineapple express strain is known to have an energising and sativa terpene profile, with a sweet and tropical taste. Users report it as being uplifting and useful for use during the daytime.

Top tips

You might have noticed, the terpenes featured in some of the most popular blends for adding to CBD are all focused towards unwinding.

Although the terps are often repeated through strains, the different concentrations give different effect and taste profiles. When shopping for terpenes, use these three top tips to find what works for you

  • Strain-specific terpenes are the most popular, as they contain the right concentrations to mirror pre-existing cannabis strains. Look for reviews of the strains to check what might be right for you.
  • If you are adding terpenes to products yourself, use our guide and always dilute them – never use them neat! 
  • A little goes a long way, err on the side of caution as you can ALWAYS add more to a mix later!

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Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.