Terpenes and What We Kind of Know

One of the terms common in the world of CBD is “terpenes” and various claims or theories about terpenes abound. Unfortunately when we get down to solid science, the conclusions to be drawn are not very clear. So let’s start with the basics: What are terpenes?

Terpenes are a large and very diverse class of organic hydrocarbons that are produced by a wide variety of plants, including the hemp plant as well as in many fruits and flowers. Scientists have catalogued over 30,000 different compounds. So, what do terpenes do, exactly?

In terms of mood, terpenes have long been used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation or elevate mood. A dominant theory was that since our sense of smell is connected to emotions, it was the smell that helped. Now a theory is emerging that terpenes actually have an effect directly on the brain itself. Complicating the analysis is the fact that there are many types of terpenes, which allegedly have quite different properties.

For example, a common terpene caryophyllene is thought to have promise for inflammatory conditions but offers nothing for mood. Another terpene, myrcene, may help with sleep while the terpene limonene has been reported to increase alertness. The list goes on an on, and while some studies exist, there is nothing really definitive at this point. Adding to the confusion is that different strains of hemp have different concentrations of different terpenes.

At Utopia CBD we remove all terpenes from the CBD, so that our products contain the type and kind of CBD that has been subject to scientific study. The National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization studies, for example, relate to CBD not to CBD plus some unknowns. CBD operates on the receptors in the endocannabinoid system, and not on the brain directly as some terpenes are theorized to do.

We anticipate future endeavors where specific terpenes in particular amounts are added to clean CBD so that sound results of the combinations can be gathered. Studies on random terpene mixtures that appear in hemp seem unlikely. Terpenes, or some of them, may well add to the effectiveness of CBD, but there is no comprehensive scientific treatment of the subject currently available.