There’s a reason that they describe walking through the forest as a “breath of fresh air.” The fragrances of pine trees, ferns, moss, and flowers harmoniously come together to instill a sense of calm restoration. But where do these smells come from? As it turns out, many of the plant-related scents come from naturally-occurring chemicals called terpenes.
Terpenes are simple organic compounds, made up of carbon, hydrogen, and sometimes oxygen in different arrangements. Terpenoids represent a more complicated chemical version of terpenes often containing oxygen. This diverse class of compounds creates many of the familiar scents and flavors in our favorite botanicals, including hemp.
Natural Sources of Terpenes
Plants, insects, fungi, and even some marine organisms produce terpenes. Scientists theorize one of their primary functions might be a form of communication between plants and insects in order to repel pests, send alerts, and work together.
For example, some insects use them to ward off other predatory insects. Termites in the Nasutiterminae family release terpenes from a specialized gland called a “
Plants also emit specific terpenes when under environmental or predatory stresses. When damaged, the plant can chemically repel a pest or attract predators to consume the pest, rescuing the plant.
Researchers also found trees who emit terpenes that potentially alter weather conditions. In one study, scientists used observation and computer models of spruce forests to discover that the terpenes released by the forest became aerosol, which helps water vapor condense into clouds. This has led some to theorize that these compounds could be used as a tool to help mitigate climate change and has highlighted another reason why deforestation may be contributing to global warming.
Humans first harnessed their power using aromatherapy. The essential oils of aromatherapy – extracts refined to capture the scent and essence of a plant – consist greatly of terpenes. These essential oils have been used by different civilizations for various reasons dating back thousands of years. Essential oils can be used in massage, meditation, and perfumes, as well as to preserve food and wine.
Terpenes, Hemp, and Cannabis
Cannabis contains a particularly plentiful array of terpenes. The unique combination of terpenes in each cannabis cultivar is known as its terpene profile.
Certain marijuana strains like Banana Kush and Grape Ape are recognized for their strong fruity scents. Likewise, you may recognize other familiar scents while smelling and tasting hemp products. This is because some of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, such as myrcene, limonene, and linalool, are also highly concentrated in other common plants. For example, myrcene is partly responsible for the smell and taste of hops in cannabis. Limonene, on the other hand, produces the scent of citrus while linalool produces the scent of lavender.
Bluebird Botanicals’ full-spectrum extracts contain a bountiful array of these terpenes. In fact, hemp contains up to 120 different terpenes and terpenoids. Check out the most common terpenes found in hemp and their associated scents:
- Myrcene – hops
- Delta 3 Carene – sweet, earthy, and piney
- Terpineol – lilac
- Valencene – citrus
- Geraniol – rose
- Limonene – citrus
- Linalool – lavender
- Caryophyllene – cloves and black pepper
- Pinene – pine
- Alpha-bisabolol – sweet and floral
- Eucalyptol – eucalyptus
- Trans-nerolidol – woody
- Humulene – hops
You may even be able to identify which of these terpenes are in your CBD oil. Next time you reach for your bottle, give the oil a whiff and see if any scents stick out to you. If you can’t distinguish what you’re smelling, pull up the batch report for your product to see which terpenes are most prevalent in your extract. Then, try smelling and tasting the oil again to see what you can recognize.
Related Article: What’s In Your CBD Oil? Making Sense of Labels and Lab Tests
Terpenes in CBD Oil
The difficult part of producing a hemp extract that retains its naturally-occurring terpenes is their volatility. Since they can easily evaporate during the extraction process, it’s important that the methods carefully control for temperature and other factors to ensure these compounds remain in the final CBD oil.
Bluebird uses a reliable, low-temperature carbon dioxide extraction process that retains all the vitamins, terpenes and other phytochemicals that increase the entourage effect without introducing any toxic solvents. In our Complete blend, we also use an additional steam-distilled hemp extract to include an extra helping of terpenes.
So, next time you’re shopping for CBD oil, try a full-spectrum hemp extract to experience the magic of terpenes!