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What Are Terpenes?

Boost Your Mood, Relieve Anxiety, and Breathe Easier — With This 1 Natural Solution

Two things that are exploding on the wellness scene right now — essential oils and cannabis. Whether you drop herbaceous oils in your aromatherapy diffuser to calm down, sip a CBD tea for anxiety, make lemon water for a boosted mood from the citrus oils, or use cannabis to relieve pain and tension, you might be surprised to know that there's a through-line in all of this — terpenes.

By definition, terpenes are "any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees." Different terpenes have different properties, and purportedly can enhance different aspects of your health and deliver specific results.

POPSUGAR recently visited the Canndescent factory in Desert Hot Springs, CA to learn more about these terpenes, and how they can be applied to your very own wellness regimen, whether you use the whole flower or prefer a CBD extract.

Rick Fisher, Chief Operating Officer Canndescent, led a "Terpenes Tutorial" and broke down the chief ones you can look for in different strains of cannabis (that are also found in common fruits and plants, like mangoes, peppercorns, and pine trees), and how they can help you hone in on your desired results.

"There are several terpenes present in different concentration levels, across many different strains," Fisher told POPSUGAR. "These terpenes have effects associated with them, and can enhance or direct the effects of cannabis, acting in conjunction with the cannabinoids, becoming part of what is referred to in the industry as the 'entourage effect.'"

POPSUGAR has spoken with several medical doctors about the entourage effect, and its ability to enhance the medicinal benefits of using the cannabis plant, be it for mental health or even cancer. "The entourage effect is the combination of terpenes and cannabinoids, that when present in the right concentrations, can make for a synergistic effect, enhancing the experience."

And you don't necessarily have to smoke to get this entourage effect (though using a vaporiser or smoking is typically the simplest way to get it). In fact, if you prefer CBD oil and want to avoid any feelings of intoxication, you can try an isolate that's bolstered with terpenes (Check out Infinite CBD's collection to see how it works).

Fisher details the most common and present terpenes: myrcene, caryophyllene, linalool, pinene, and limonene. Here's where they're most common, and their potential effects on your body (in his words!).


Scent Profile: Musky, clove-like, herbal
Where It's Found: Mangoes, thyme, and bay leaves
Effects: Sedating, relaxing, and can enhance the intoxication feeling of THC. It also has antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.


Scent Profile: Floral and lavender-like, slight citrus
Where It's Found: Lavender, birch, and rosewood
Effects: Relaxing and calming but with more of an anti-anxiety impact. Studies have shown that Linalool can reduce lung inflammation and boost the immune system.


Scent Profile: Peppery, five-spice, earthy
Where It's Found: Black peppercorns, cloves, and hops
Effects: Mild physical effects reported; said to help with sleep/insomnia, inflammation, and pain relief. Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with your endocannabinoid system and currently is being researched for its ability to reduce the poisonous effect on the kidneys caused by anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs.


Scent Profile: Citrus, lemon, sweet orange
Where It's Found: Citrus, juniper, and peppermint
Effects: Elevates your mood while melting stress. This terpene has anti-depression, anti-anxiety qualities.


Scent Profile: Sweet, piney
Where It's Found: Pine needles, conifers, and sage
Effects: Good for alertness, and energizing qualities that aid memory retention. Pinene is a bronchodilator [which can help your breathing] and is said to lessen the impact of [the intoxication of] THC when consumed through cannabis [read: you won't get as "high"].
Editor's note: our terpene class noted that pinene as a bronchodilator can help improve a workout thanks to its ability to improve your oxygen intake and levels.

"While a handful of studies have been conducted on terpenes, there is much more needed," said Fisher. "At Canndescent we support research and trials to help us all unlock the potential of cannabis and better understand its possible integration points in our lives."

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