What Are Terpenes and What Do They Have To Do With CBD?

You’re probably familiar with the saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” But have you ever heard someone say, “Stop and smell the terpenes?” They could actually since terpenes are the highly aromatic compounds that give plants and herbs their fragrance.  Terpenes also help protect plants. In some plants, they attract pollinators. Their strong fragrance also can protect plants by deterring predators, such as insects or foraging animals. Terpenes also act as part of the plant’s immune system to help ward off infectious germs or they help the plant recover from damage.[1]

Terpenes in Our Daily Lives

There are thousands of terpenes. Globally more than 50,000 different terpenes have been discovered although not all of them well researched. They are responsible for the different tastes and aromas found in food and plant life. [2] Manufacturers use isolated terpenes to flavor and add scents to food, personal care products and perfumes. However, some terpenes also act on the endocannabinoid system (ECS),[3] the vital molecular system that plays a very important role in maintaining homeostasis, which is the body’s efforts to maintain stable functionality and operate optimally regardless of any changes in its environment. 

Many terpenes are bioactive. This means they may affect the body based on the concentration of the terpene itself and how a person uses it. Terpenes produce vibrant smells so they form the basis of many essential oils. Inhaling the scents from some plants and essential oils may affect a person’s mood and stress levels.[4] 

In the cannabis plant, there are some 200 different types of terpenes, which is why many people associate terpenes with cannabis. The terpene’s interaction with cannabinoids helps to define each specific strain of cannabis and its distinctive effect. [5]

Safety and Health Benefits of Terpenes

Because they are naturally occurring plant compounds, terpenes are safe. However, you need to consider their use because of the other ingredients contained within the terpene solution.[6]

Each type of terpene offers its own unique health benefits. For example, some terpenes can help relieve symptoms associated with anxiety and stress, others can improve mental clarity or boost energy, and others may help improve sleep. Some types of terpenes can help by providing pain relief. Mixing certain terpenes together can also help to boost their power.[7]

Terpenes and CBD

In order to provide consumers with enhanced CBD offerings, some manufacturers now are infusing CBD isolate with combinations of terpenes.  Isolates are the purest form of CBD since all the other compounds and impurities have been removed.  This new method enhances the benefits of the CBD and allows for customization of the product to treat specific conditions, such as pain relief. With a customized blend, you can have a higher percentage of terpenes than you’d find in nature.


[1] “What to Know About Terpenes,” Medical News Today, May 26, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-are-terpenes
[2] Wyse, Rebecca, “How Many Terpenes are There?” Canna Digger, May 26, 2021. https://cannadigger.com/how-many-terpenes-are-there/
[3] “What to Know About Terpenes”
[4] IBID
[5] Wyse, Rebecca, “How Many Terpenes are There?”
[6] Social VT, “Are Terpenes Safe?” Vapeur Terp, October 25, 2019. https://vapeurterp.com/are-terpenes-safe/
[7] Wyse, Rebecca, “How Many Terpenes are There?”