Terpenes and CBD

When we take a walk in the forest we usually say that we breathe fresh air. The fragrances of ferns, pines, flowers and moss come together harmoniously giving us a sense of tranquility. But where does all this smell come from? Many of these aromas come from natural chemicals known as terpenes. The relationship between terpenes and CBD may be more important than you think.

In the world of hemp, psychoactive cannabinoids like THC have always had the limelight. Now that the hemp industry is maturing, more and more consumers are hearing about terpenes and the important role they play in hemp therapy. In recent years, terpenes have been talked about much more frequently among hemp consumers.

If you ask a botanist what terpenes are, he or she would probably tell you that it is a substance found in the essential oils of plants. In addition, they are aromatic organic hydrocarbons. Terpenes can be found in a variety of plants and even in some insects. Nowadays, most people use this term when talking about hemp. In this article we clarify everything you need to know what terpenes really are.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are oils secreted by the same plant glands that produce CBD and THC during flowering. To date, more than 20,000 terpenes have been identified, and at least 100 are produced by the hemp plant. Each has a unique smell, taste and properties. Do you like the sweet, fruity taste of pineapple twist? It comes from terpenes.

The truth is that terpenes have different tastes and smells, including mint, citrus and pine. All plants contain terpenes. Therefore, all the aromas and flavors that are associated with terpenes are named after the plants.

For example, when grown correctly, the terpenes that give the unique cherry flavor can be produced in your favorite hemp strain, resulting in the Cherry OG strain. In addition, the combination of terpenes can produce new flavors and smells.

On a more scientific level, terpenes are simple organic substances that are composed of hydrogen, carbon and, in some cases, oxygen in different forms. There is a more complex chemical version of terpenes: terpenoids. Terpenoids are terpenes that have been denatured by oxidation.

Interest in hemp terpenes goes beyond aroma. Studies suggest that when terpenes interact with cannabinoid receptors, they can potentiate or reduce the effects of cannabinoids. Therefore, these substances also play an important role in the entourage effect. Hence, the relationship between terpenes and CBD is gaining so much importance.

The chemistry of terpenes

The term terpene is used to describe a broad group of chemicals that affect taste and odor. Its molecules can be divided into two types: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

Monoterpenes are “light” terpenes, and among others produce the aromas of limonene, myrcene and terpinolene. They are responsible for the more floral aromas given off by the hemp plant, such as jasmine, rose, apple and kiwi. Sesquiterpenes are “heavy” terpenes, such as caryophyllene and humulene. They are responsible for the more spicy and sandalwoody aromas given off by the hemp plant, such as musk, tea tree and fuel.

Because monoterpenes are lighter, they evaporate in less time once the live plant is cut. A study conducted by the University of Mississippi found that dry curing and decarboxylation can reduce monoterpene counts by 55-85%.

The reduction of monoterpenes makes the heavier sesquiterpenes more influential on the aroma, flavor and medicinal impact of the final product, whether it is wax, oil or the plant itself. This is why, for the most part, products that are made from decarboxylated hemp have a more pungent aroma.

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