Seemingly out of nowhere CBD has swept across the world and is now included in products ranging from desserts to beverages to face moisturizers to hand sanitizers—and everything in between. We’ve talked extensively about how CBD products have permeated nearly every demographic of society and have grown to a market worth billions over the past several years.
However, with that said, there are many people, even those who are consuming CBD regularly, who do not have a clear idea of what it is, how it works, or what other components make up CBD products. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—you’re not expected to have a deep understanding of the chemical make up of drugs your doctor prescribes, for example.
Why You Should Learn about CBD Products
With CBD, though, because much of the research looking into its benefits and effect on the body is in its early stages (really beginning in earnest over the last 5-10 years), it’s a good idea to understand what you’re putting in your body. For that reason, we wanted to give a quick recap on how CBD works, as well as answer a question we often see from experienced users and newcomers alike: What the heck are terpenes?
You will often see terpenes listed on many CBD products but, unless you’re a botanist, you probably have no idea what they are. We’ll dive into that, as well as what they do in this article. First, however, let’s go over the basics of CBD and how it works.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of hundreds of chemical compounds found in the Cannabis genus of plants. Around 60 of those chemical compounds are found only in Cannabis plants and so are named cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are CBD and THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD has no psychoactive effects and so does not get you “high”.
CBD, like all cannabinoids, interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system, a body system that was relatively unknown until recently. Further Study has shown that it is a crucial biochemical communication system in the human body, and that it plays a critical role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience.
Here’s How CBD Works
We’ve gone over the mechanics of how CBD works in human body in several of our articles. To put it briefly, CBD triggers changes in your body’s endocannabinoid system that target different immune responses of your body’s nervous system. It does this by binding with one of two CBD receptors found throughout your body.
CB1 receptors are essential for a healthy functioning brain and are one of the most common receptors in the entire nervous system. They are found especially concentrated in the central nervous system areas of the brain and spinal cord. Depending on what region of the brain they are located in, they can be moderators of your memory, mood, motor function, or your perception of pain.
CB2 receptors are most often found in the peripheral nervous system. Specifically, on the cells of our immune system. This allows them to help moderate and respond to inflammation and our immune response to pathogens. If you use CBD products to combat conditions of an overactive immune system (i.e. arthritis, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders or digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease), that is your CB2 receptors hard at work.
When it comes to how CBD makes you feel, both receptors are important. However, it is largely the CB2 receptors that will bring about a quicker feeling of relief. That’s because the CB2 receptors influence conditions that cause us sharper more immediate pain or discomfort.
Consuming CBD triggers these receptors and they are thought to then temper or increase bodily responses (specifically, immune system responses) to combat your body’s over or under reaction and produce homeostasis.
When it comes to feeling relief from stress and anxiety, on the other hand, it is largely the CB1 receptors that come into play. CBD is thought to help chronic stress by preventing the overstimulation of our body’s CB1 receptors and by boosting our body’s production of endocannabinoids. This then reins in the body’s response to stress and helps lead to the proper chemical levels and a balanced emotional state.
So, What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes describe a large and diverse class of organic compounds which are produced by a great variety of plants, as well as by some types of insects. Their primary role is to produce a strong odor that helps protect their plants or other organism by deterring herbivores or attracting predators and parasites of the herbivores. Basically, they are a security system for various types of organisms, predominantly plants. In addition to this role, they also help in reproduction by attracting pollinators.
Even if you do not recognize them by name, you’ve been experiencing terpenes your entire life. They are what give pine trees the aroma that fills your house during Christmas time. They are what give oranges their distinct citrus smell when you pull back the peel. And they are even responsible for the relaxing effects produced by lavender.
It is currently estimated that there are over 20,000 different terpenes spread throughout the various plants and other organisms. They have grown to play a large role in holistic medicines and practices like aromatherapy and are thought to be as beneficial to humans as they are to plants. And, as you may have guessed, there are many terpenes that are also found in marijuana and hemp plants.
Our Tincture Products with Terpenes
Along with CBD, terpenes are responsible for both the flavor and some of the effects in our Uplift, Balance, and Relax tincture products. Try them for yourself and see if they help you feel better today.
Terpenes and CBD
In cannabis plants (hemp and marijuana), terpenes are produced and secreted in the same glands that product the cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Over 200 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, each with a unique composition. However, only a small number of these are in substantial enough quantities to be thought to have any real effect on our health.
These more “noteworthy” cannabis terpenes are monoterpenes, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, which are characterized by the number of repeating units of a 5-carbon molecule called isoprene, the structural hallmark of all terpenoid compounds. In addition to repelling insects, grazing animals, and fungus, giving cannabis plants a strong evolutionary advantage over the years, these types of terpenes are also thought to have a positive effect on our own bodies.
Beta-caryophyllene, for example, is a type of sesquiterpene that may have health benefits ranging from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, to treatment for cancer, anxiety, and seizures. Others may potentially aid in digestion, protect our gastrointestinal system, treat ulcers, and prevent pain.
Here are some of the more common terpenes that appear in many CBD oils and their possible benefits:
- Pinene – antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator
- Linalool – sleep aid and anti-anxiety
- Myrcene – anti-bacterial
- Limonene – anti-inflammatory, antifungal, mood booster
- Caryophyllene – analgesic, anti-inflammatory
- Humulene – appetite suppressant, anti-inflammatory
Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
In a nutshell, researchers and medical professionals are not always 100% sure what specifically causes certain benefits or positive effects of CBD or THC. Often, those unique effects are thought to be the result of the different components of cannabis plants interacting with one another, as well as with our body’s endocannabinoid system. This is known as the “entourage effect”. By “components” we mean CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, as well as all the terpenes found in the plant.
In 2011, Dr. Russo published a detailed report in the British Journal of Pharmacology on the entourage effect. The report essentially describes that all the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants work together to produce the beneficial effect on our bodies. It also found that terpenes play a role in the entourage effect, influencing cannabinoid receptors and helping the body absorb other terpenes and cannabinoids.
Entourage Effect and Full Spectrum CBD
The fact of the matter is that it is not completely clear what creates the many benefits of CBD and THC. CBD isolate products have been shown to product many similar effects as full spectrum products that include all the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant. However, because we, at this moment, are not sure if some of the benefits result from the entourage effect, many users prefer full spectrum products. They feel as though they are covering all their bases by doing so.