In an effort to demystify the wellness lingo around CBD, we’re digging into all things terpenes. This diverse class of organic compounds is produced primarily by plants and select insects. As the primary constituents of essential oils, terpenes are what give everything from pine trees to orange peels their distinct, aromatherapy scents. Popular terpenes include Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, Nerolidol, Pinene, Limonene, Terpineol, Terpinolene, and Phytol.
So what do they have to do with CBD? It all boils down to the “entourage effect,” or the theory that various compounds in cannabis work synergistically to create unique effects and benefits. Terpenes play a role by either altering the way CBD binds with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system or producing an effect that compliments that of the CBD.
Broad spectrum hemp extract is a type of CBD that contains almost every compound in the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. However, because the terpenes are in small, barely traceable amounts, you may find CBD supplements with additional terpenes added to the formulation. (CBD isolate, on the other hand, is composed of 99% pure CBD and stripped of all other ingredients, including flavonoids, THC, and terpenes.)
Below are five different terpenes that specifically promote a sense of calm, relaxation, and drowsiness to combat insomnia due to their natural anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) and analgesic (pain-reducing) effects. As you’ll notice, the research for each terpene profile is emerging, which means studies are still in progress, information is constantly evolving, and no trials have been conducted on humans in the public domain. But here’s what we know to date on terpenes as sleep aids:
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in several cannabis strains and is also naturally found in fragrant fruits and herbs such as mangoes, lemongrass, and basil.
Emerging research: It is being studied for its sedative effects and inflammation/chronic pain-reducing properties. (1-2)
2. Beta-Caryophyllene (BCP)
BCP is a peppery terpene found in strains of cannabis, as well as black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, basil, and rosemary. It is one of the only known terpenes that binds to cannabinoid receptors (3) (the same ones that THC binds to) and may provide some of the benefits associated with CBD’s “entourage effect.” (4)
Emerging research: It is being studied for its pain-relieving properties, as well as its effects on inflammation, heart disease, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. Like Myrcene, no BCP trials have been conducted on humans in the public domain. (5-9)
Linalool is found in cannabis products, as well as lavender, mint, cinnamon, coriander, and birch bark. It appears to be most responsible for the spicy and flora aroma of cannabis.
Emerging research: It is being studied for its effects on anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disease (arthritis, depression, seizures, insomnia). (10-15)
4. Beta Pinene
Beta Pinene is the most common terpene in the world. It’s found in cannabis as well as coniferous trees, pine, rosemary, basil, and cumin.
Emerging research: It is being studied for its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-anxiety, and memory-supporting effects. (16)
The cannabis plant contains far lower levels of terpinolene than any other terpene, but it's worth mentioning nonetheless. This floral, herbaceous ingredient shows up in lilacs, nutmeg, apples, and cumin.
Emerging research: It is being studied for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and mild sedating effects. (17-19)
Interested in learning more about CBD? Refer to our full guide to broad spectrum hemp extract for the low-down on what it is, what emerging science says about it, and different forms to take it (capsules, tinctures, edibles, topicals, etc).