What Are The Different Types Of Terpenes?
Terpenes are compounds responsible for the minty scent of pine trees, the citrusy essence of oranges, and the peppery aroma of cinnamon and cloves. They’re also abundant in cannabis plants as well as a variety of beauty and health products, including perfumes and oils.
Their strong scents attract pollinators, repel predators, and protect plants from damage and infections.1 But they’re also advantageous to humans, too. Terpenes may contain anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties and can help regulate positive moods.2
That said, there are 30,000 known terpenes—400 of which are found in cannabis plants—that are classified into seven distinct groupings. In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of terpenes, their connection to cannabis plants, and how you can reap their potential benefits through CBD oil and other CBD products.
What Are Terpenes?
Consider the rich, even hypnotizing scent of certain plants: The sharp smell of rosemary, the refreshing zing of lemon, and the sweet, clean perfume of lavender are all thanks to different terpenes.
Defined as aromatic, organic compounds, terpenes provide protection for plants, contribute to the color of certain flora, and create the essential oils we use in products like fragrances, cosmetics, body butters, and aromatherapy.2
As the biggest collection of naturally occurring compounds out there, you’ve probably been exposed to different terpenes for most of your life. After all, they’re found in everything from tea to wine.3 Some animals even produce terpenes.
You might also encounter terpenes in pesticides, cleaning products, and dyes.
As bioactive compounds, terpenes may be beneficial for humans, too. While the research is young, the terpenes in cannabis sativa, for example, may:4
- Support emotional balance
- Improve energy levels
- Ease worrisome thoughts
- Facilitate restful sleep
How Many Terpenes Groups Exist?
Nature has graced us with a plethora of terpenes, with some estimates suggesting that 30,000 terpenes have been discovered so far.5 The cannabis plant alone possesses roughly 400 identified terpenes.4
Terpenes are broken down into seven main classes, based on the number of five carbon isoprenes (volatile organic compounds) they have:3
- Hemiterpenes – One isoprene unit
- Monoterpenes – Two isoprene units
- Sesquiterpenes – Three isoprene units
- Diterpenes – Four isoprene units
- Sesterterpenes – Five isoprene units
- Triterpenes – Six isoprene units
- Sesquarterpenes – Seven isoprene units
- Tetraterpenes – Eight isoprene units
- Polyterpenes – Many isoprene units
Some of these may be familiar to you. Carotenoids, for example, are abundant in oranges and carrots, and they may encourage eye and heart health.6
Broad and full-spectrum CBD products include terpenes, but rarely will the manufacturer provide the list of terpenes and effects. Instead, they may list how much terpene content each product contains, as well as the specific name of each terpene.
Wondering what the difference is between CDT vs BDT? Terpenes can more broadly be classified into cannabis-derived terpenes (CDT), botanical-derived terpenes (BDT), and synthetic terpenes:
- CDT – These terpenes come exclusively from the cannabis plant and are often difficult to extract without using chemical processes.
- BDT – These terpenes are derived from a variety of botanical sources, including plants mentioned above, such as rosemary, lavender, and pine trees. Their extraction methods are less chemically involved, meaning these terpenes have higher purity levels than CDT.
- Synthetic – Synthetic terpenes are lab-manufactured and often require chemical processes, which may impact the purity and concentration of the terpenes.
What Are the Most Common Terpenes and Their Effects?
The use of terpenes for their potential mental and physical benefits dates back hundreds of years. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, an alternative, holistic form of medicine that’s been practiced for 3,000 years, used the limonene terpene found in lemons to treat dental issues and crush coughs.2
Goji berries, which are rich in the carotenoid beta-carotene, were relied upon to manage kidney problems, boost circulation, and promote longevity.
Science has been catching up on ancient medicine’s practices. The most commonly studied and well-known terpenes include:4
Keep in mind that the research on terpenes is inconclusive and we’re only now uncovering their therapeutic benefits. More human studies are needed before we have a complete picture of their possibilities.
Lastly, this isn’t an exhaustive list of terpenes. Others include:
What Are the Least Common Terpenes?
The least common terpenes fall into that sesterpene class we mentioned earlier, which are terpenes that are derived from fungi and marine organisms.8
When it comes to the terpenes found in cannabis sativa, one of the rarest is believed to be terpinolene. This rare terpene is partially responsible for giving “herb” its, well, herbaceous scent—an aroma that is woodsy, floral, and citrusy all at once.
Animal studies on this rare terpene suggest that it may have a sedative effect.9
What’s the Connection Between Terpenes and Cannabis?
In the context of cannabis, terpenes are believed to work in concert with THC and CBD to induce what’s known as the “entourage effect,” which works with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors and heightens cannabis’s effects.
Terpenes can also impact the flavor and scent of a cannabis strain.
An analysis of studies, published in Frontiers in Neurology, found that epileptic patients who received an extract containing all of the components of CBD, including terpenes, experienced an improvement in their symptoms when compared to taking pure CBD (which omits extra players like terpenes).10
However, the research on this topic is limited and largely theoretical, with the assumption that because both terpenes and cannabis each have effects, they must work better together.11 Moreover? Terpenes are effective entirely on their own—no CBD or THC needed.
That said, we capitalize on the potential benefits of both CBD and terpenes at Peels CBD. Our CBD products are made with terpenes derived from orange peels, which are combined with olivetol to create crystalline CBD that may help to support pain management, stress relief, sleep, and gastrointestinal processes.
How Can I Reap the Potential Rewards of Terpenes?
As evidenced, using THC and CBD certainly aren’t the only methods to take advantage of terpenes’ potentially therapeutic benefits. There are dozens of ways to weave terpenes into your life, including:
Perk Up Your Self-Care Practice with Peels
Scientifically, terpenes are classified into seven subgroups, depending on their molecular makeup. On a more practical level, terpenes can be classified as cannabis-derived terpenes, botanical-derived terpenes, or synthetic terpenes.
That said, no matter the classification, terpenes can deliver a host of potential benefits to plants, animals, and humans alike.
Whether you’re searching for a terpene-rich CBD oil to uplevel your focus or CBD Gummies to encourage post-workout recovery, we’ve got you covered. Explore our Peels CBD products to experience all that terpenes have to offer.
- Medical News Today. What are terpenes. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-are-terpenes
- Nature Public Health Emergency Collection. Therapeutic and medicinal uses of terpenes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7120914/
- Science Direct. Terpene–an overview. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/terpene
- Healthline. Cannabis terpenes: what they are and how they work. https://www.healthline.com/health/cannabis-terpenes#list-of-terpenes
- Flavor Chemistry. Biochemistry of essential oil terpenes. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-4693-1_21
- Healthline. Carotenoids: Everything you need to know. https://www.healthline.com/health/carotenoids
- Science Direct. Limonene: aroma of innovation in health and disease. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0009279717310487
- Natural Products Chemistry & Research. The role of terpene. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kasim-Jilo-2/publication/356557064_The_Role_of_Terpene_Secondary_Metabolite/links/61a0b7696b9a6f096705e652/The-Role-of-Terpene-Secondary-Metabolite.pdf
- Journal of Natural Medicines. The sedative effect of inhaled terpinolene in mice and its structure-activity relationships. http://europepmc.org/article/MED/23339024
- Frontiers in Neurology. Potential clinical benefits of cbd-rich cannabis extracts over purified cbd in treatment-resistant epilepsy–observational data meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6143706/
- Best Health Mag. The truth about the healing benefits of terpenes. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/article/health-benefits-of-terpenes/
- Best Health Mag. The benefits of forest bathing: what to know about boosting your health. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/article/benefits-of-forest-bathing/
- Pain Research and Treatment. The effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5192342/
- Science Direct. Hemiterpene. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/hemiterpene
- Science Direct. Terpene. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/terpene