Terpenes are the compounds responsible for plants' smell


CBD & Hemp Dictionary | 14.01.2022

According to science, there are more than 8,000 terpenes, which are divided into different categories.

Terpenes are of great biological importance and form the basis of the distinctive essential oils that plants produce. Therefore, they play a major part in how these plants taste (when eaten) and smell. Good examples of the impact of terpenes are, for example, the fresh smell of lemon peels, the relaxing scent of lavender and the refreshing aroma of lemongrass. Conifers, citrus plants and cannabis plants produce particularly large amounts of terpenes.

Terpenes explained

Apart from being responsible for creating aromatic scents, terpenes have several other functions: In many cases, they protect the plants that contain them from bacteria, viruses or predators - in other cases, they ensure that pollinators are being attracted to them.

As mentioned before, terpenes are divided into different categories - whereas each plant has its own terpene profile:

  • Monoterpenes (C 10)
  • Sesquiterpenes (C15)
  • Diterpenes: (C20)

Each category includes a variety of terpenes with specific characteristics.

CBD & Terpenes

Apart from cannabinoids (such as CBD) and flavonoids, terpenes are also part of the natural compounds found in the cannabis plant. Researchers have identified more than 100 terpenes in the hemp plant, the most important being Linalool, Limonene and Caryophyllene.

  • Linalool: Linalool is part of the “monoterpene-group” - and is known for its slightly spicy, floral bouquet. It can also be found in plants like jasmine, birch and lavender.
  • Limonene: Just like Linalool, Limonene is also a monoterpen. The terpene is not only part of the cannabis plant but also plays a vital part in plants with a citrus component such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits.
  • Caryophyllene: In contrast, Caryophyllene is part of the sesquiterpenes and characterised by a warm, woody and earthy note.

Terpenes also play a major role in the use of CBD oils, which are extracted from the cannabis Sativa plant: These are available as so-called full-spectrum oils, as broad-spectrum variants or as isolates. Full-spectrum oils and broad-spectrum oils offer the advantage that all terpenes are included. This way, cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes can support and complement each other's effects, whereas broad-spectrum oils are completely THC-free.

Isolates, on the other hand, contain only CBD, so that neither cannabinoids nor terpenes can create the before-mentioned entourage effect. The CBD oils from HERBLIZ are available in different potencies and flavours and contain the full cannabinoid and terpene spectrum. Whether you prefer a fruity or more neutral taste - you're sure to find your new favourite here!

History of Terpenes

In 1866, terpenes were identified for the first time by German researcher August Kekulé - and named after the tree resin “turpentine”. Originally, only these compounds were called terpenes, but the term was later expanded and specified more precisely. Apart from August Kekulé, the most important researchers in the field of terpenes were, among others, Otto Wallach, who conducted research while working with August Kekulé, and Leopold Ruzicka.

Earlier, terpenes were named according to their origin, which led to the same compounds being given different names. In 1884, Otto Wallach showed that many of these compounds were in fact identical. Eight years later, Wallach was then able to clearly describe the first 9 terpenes.

Terpenes have been used in different ways for a long time: Among other things, they are used in cosmetics, cleaning agents, solvents, and in the production of perfumes. They are also used as natural insecticides and pesticides.

Additionally, many studies are focusing on the effect terpenes may have on the human organism and which potentially positive conclusions could be drawn from this. Also, terpenes have traditionally been used as part of essential oils in alternative medicines, such as aromatherapy.

Good to know about Terpenes

In Japan, there is a phenomenon called forest bathing, which is gaining more and more notoriety. People who practise this relaxation method go for long, leisurely walks in the forest to manage stress and enhance their overall wellbeing. It is suspected that the effects of the tree terpenes may have an impact in the calming effect of these “baths” as well.