Few edible or consumable products have ever become as popular as quickly as CBD has. The product was illegal until the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill; since then, CBD is available almost everywhere, and interested customers can purchase CBD from a slew of stores and websites. As a result of this massive spike in availability, 1 in 7 Americans have tried CBD, and the industry is generating tens of billions of dollars.
However, CBD is still basically brand new to the average consumer, and as such, it is largely misunderstood. There are a variety of myths and misunderstandings about the compound, including what it is, what it does, what it is made of and whether or not it can get you high (it cannot).
CBD is made of many components, including compounds called terpenes. That leads us to our next question: What are terpenes, and why do they matter? Here’s a look at the answer to that very important question.
Broadly speaking, terpenes are natural compounds which occur in a variety of foods and drinks. Indeed, whether you have realized it or not, you’ve been tasting, smelling and touching terpenes your entire life. They are responsible for the creation of smells, tastes, flavors and appearances of many edible substances, and this includes CBD. As you would expect for something which grows naturally, terpenes are organic and produced by living organisms, including plants (like cannabis) and certain types of insects. Furthermore, they are often key components of a variety of other compounds – and, again, this is the case when it comes to CBD.
This, of course, is the case when it comes to CBD as well. Terpenes can be found in every form of CBD (except for isolate), as they are found naturally in the oils of all plants.
In cannabis plants, terpenes are produced based on a variety of factors. These include the specific type of cannabis strain which is being produced, the humidity and temperature in which the cannabis is growing, the amount of light in the area, the water that the plant receives and more. It is also worth noting that terpenes can be extremely sensitive to a change in any of these factors.
When it comes to cannabis, over 100 terpenes are produced by the plant. Hemp has even more, with 120 terpenes coming from the hemp plant.
Terpenes matter for many reasons when it comes to CBD. For starters, they affect more than just taste and smell: Different terpenes can have different impacts on the body’s endocannabinoid system.
This is important because the endocannabinoid system the primary way in which CBD makes an impact on your body. Your endocannabinoid system is largely responsible for keeping your body in homeostasis. It consists of your body’s naturally produced cannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptors which are found throughout your body, including on your organs and skin. CBD alters the interaction between your body’s cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, and this can help restore your body to homeostasis, reducing pain, anxiety, stress and more.
However, different terpenes can have differing effects, thus altering your experience with CBD. For example, Myrcene can help make you feel more tired or stoned and Linalool can balance out the Myrcene and help you feel less high. The amount of each terpene in the CBD you consume can thus make you feel very different.
There are an array of other types of terpenes, including:
When it comes to CBD, terpenes can have a stronger impact than just the sensations you experience when you taste or smell it. For many biological components, you only notice when you smell it. For something like CBD, different terpenes can give you a dramatically different interaction.
It’s also important to realize that terpenes can have important and varying impacts on the three different types of CBD: Full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate. Full spectrum contains terpenes, flavonoids and THC. Broad spectrum contains no THC, and isolate is purified CBD, containing 99% CBD with all flavonoids and terpenes filtered out.
As such, terpenes play a critical role in the experience of the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect is essentially the idea that CBD works best when all of its participating components – terpenes, flavonoids and THC – are present. This means that only full spectrum CBD can provide the entourage effect. Broad spectrum (which does not contains THC) and isolate (which only contains CBD) cannot. As such, terpenes are considered a critical part of whole plant therapy and necessary to any of the benefits of the entourage effect.
The research on whether or not the entourage effect exists is is decidedly mixed. At least one study has found that it does exist, but other studies have found the opposite. Regardless of whether or not you believe that the entourage effect exists, it does seem clear that it cannot occur without terpenes.