Photo of orange and red coloured bubbles in a liquid. From e1011 Labs' terpenes information page.

What are Terpenes?

E1011 Labs provides a 101 in Terpenes for you.

Terpenes are microscopic compounds that can carry a sensory punch. Have you ever breathed in the fresh smell of a flowering jasmine bush or taken in the sweet scent of a freshly mowed lawn on a summer day? Or how about the smell of a mojito?

Almost every time you've stopped to enjoy an aroma, you could chalk it up to terpenes. The flora and fauna kingdoms are full of terpenes, and although they are generally found in plants, terpenes have become a buzzword in the hemp industry. Hemp plants are naturally high in terpenes, and different phenotypes will contain a variety of terpenes. These aromatic compounds serve an essential purpose for plants in the unforgiving realm of nature; terpenes can protect plants from possible threats, such as infections and even grazing animals. 

If terpenes can do all this (and more) in nature, how do they impact the human body?

Studies indicate that terpenes could offer some personal health benefits. Naturally, these potential benefits can excite the public, and combined with a good marketing strategy it has become a popular angle for hemp companies to explore. The increased interest in the cannabis industry has driven more scientific research into how terpenes affect the human body and how our body’s systems respond to them. 

Before we get too stuck into what the research, let's take a look at terpenes in general. So, we have covered that terpenes are aromatic compounds, providing the earth with scents and smells. They are found mainly in herbs, plants, and flowers, but are also found in some animals. 

When you smell a scented candle or even the lemon-scented dish liquid, they are usually made with isolated terpenes to give these manufactured goods their odors. Most perfumes, cosmetics, and even some food goods have been made using isolated terpenes. 

In the natural kingdom, plants use terpenes to repel dangers (predators such as animals and insects), and other plants use terpenes to attract their relative pollinators. Some terpenes can also repair a plant after damage while others even improve their immune system (yes, plants do have one). 

What is the difference between Terpenes and Terpenoids?

A living plant has terpenes, but when the plant dries and begins to 'cure,' these terpenes start to oxidize and are called terpenoids. 

What is the Difference between Terpenes and Cannabinoids? 

Terpenes in Cannabis

Terpenes are found in abundance in the plant kingdom, and Cannabis Sativa L. contains both cannabinoids and terpenes. Although both can be found in hemp plants, they are separate compounds that have entirely different functions.

Phytocannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two of the mainstream market's most well-known cannabinoids. 

Most mammals, including humans, have receptors within the body that interact with these cannabinoids. And these receptors are a part of the endocannabinoid system - a system that is included in our anatomies. When a person uses cannabis, this very interaction influences the 'high' that is often associated with cannabis consumption. 

CBD is currently being researched for possible health benefits, and although the research does look promising, more scientific clinical trials need to occur. Many people use CBD to help boost their health by adding it to their daily wellness routine. Unfortunately, edible CBD like tinctures and capsules aren’t efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream, wasting most of the cannabinoid. Luckily, Elon by E1011 Labs offers a better, more efficient way. This state of the art CBD delivery system is designed to maximize bioavailability, making the CBD incredibly more effective. Additionally, their Stems contain the hemp whole flower instead of extracts, meaning the naturally occurring terpenes found within the hemp plant are included. With the Elon Starter Kit you can add the benefits of THC, CBD and terpenes into your life!

Despite the two cannabinoids (THC and CBD) being far and away the most well-known, there are over 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plants. A full-spectrum product, like the Elon Starter Kit, would include many other cannabinoids beyond CBD and THC.

Although terpenes are mainly responsible for some plants' aromatic qualities, some terpenes do interact with the endocannabinoid system as well, in much the same way that cannabinoids do. However, there are key differences in how our bodies absorb, assimilate, and use these compounds.  

Can Terpenes Affect People?

CBD Vape

Some terpenes are bioactive compounds. If a substance is bioactive, then it means that it can have an influence or effect on the body. The exact details of this effect will depend on which terpene it is, the concentration, and how it is ingested (or how it is used).

Terpenes have vibrant aromas and are essentially the backbone of aromatherapy, including essential oils. Many other alternative therapies use terpenes, as well. Some terpenes can influence your mood, providing relaxation, and ease stress.

Regarding hemp and cannabis, there is a body of research suggesting that terpenes can impact the overall interaction of cannabis and the human body; this is known as 'the entourage effect.' This effect explains how terpenes, phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, and other naturally occurring compounds work together systematically and enhance each other’s effects. 

To encourage the entourage effect, e1011 labs fills each Stem with premium full-spectrum CBD flower. This beautifully sun-grown hemp combines CBD with natural terpenes to help increase overall wellness. 

A review in the Frontiers in Neurology reported how epileptic sufferers who took a full spectrum CBD extract experienced improved results compared to those who were given a CBD isolate dose. Full-spectrum CBD will contain the complete range of naturally occurring compounds, including terpenes.

If we turn back to specific research on terpenes, some studies show the medicinal properties of certain individual terpenes’ medicinal properties.

This study, published in Chemico-Biological Interactions, shows how terpenes have beneficial properties for the human body and have the potential to play an important role in alternative therapies and medicines.                                                                                                  

What Types of Terpenes should you Know?

There is a sea of scents out there, and the natural world is teeming with different terpenes. However, research has focused on just a small percentage of terpenes.

Here are some of the well-known terpenes:

Pinene

Pinene is a terpene that is abundant in the natural world. Pine needles, rosemary, and basil contain this terpene that offers their signature bright and fresh aroma.

There are two different types of pinene:

  • a-pinene 
  • b-pinene

Both forms of pinene give off a refreshingly bright scent, and research suggests that pinene could support good health.

A traditional Japanese therapy, Shirin-yoku (literally 'forest bathing') is based on taking walks in the forest and breathing in the forest scents. According to research, this ancient therapy could have both restorative and preventive properties. According to a study published in the Acta Salus Vitae, the fresh air in a healthy forest contains enough pinene to have therapeutic benefits.

These proposed therapeutic benefits allow pinene to be a bronchodilator, which simply means it helps the lungs to have an increased amount of air. Pinene could also be anti-inflammatory and, when inhaled, could help to ward off infections and germs.

Limonene

Limonene is another common terpene found in abundance in the natural world. Many people will be able to recognize this terpene as it can be found in abundance in many manufactured goods. It gives off a citrus scent, and it is present in the rinds of most citrus fruits.

Chemico-Biological Interactions published a study detailing limonene's therapeutic benefits:

  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antiviral
  • antidiabetic

Studies suggest that the limonene terpene has these effects because it can regulate some immune cells, helping them to offer protection from some disorders.

Some of the other common terpenes include:

  • Myrcene (commonly found in lemongrass, hops, and thyme)
  • Linalool (found in abundance in lavender) 
  • Beta-caryophyllene (widely found in peppercorns, cloves, and other herbs and vegetables)

While more conclusive studies need to be performed, so far, the research is suggesting that terpenes could help prevent asthma and allergic reactions. There is so much more to learn about the natural world, and while we are only just discovering the tip, the proverbial iceberg looks promising.