What on earth are terpenes?

If you’ve spent any time engaging with the CBD boom then you’ve likely encountered the word ‘terpenes’. While knowing exactly what a terpene is isn’t particularly commonplace, terpenes themselves are extremely common. In fact, you’ve probably encountered them today.

The sweet scent of an orange, the fresh, relaxing fragrance of a pine forest, or the spicy, stinging aroma of freshly ground black pepper. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for all these odours, and a great deal more. 

A family of organic, aromatic compounds that are predominantly produced by plants, terpenes typically have strong, distinctive scents. These scents affect the behaviour of animals that come into contact with the plant, either deterring animals that might want to eat the plant or attracting pollinating insects.

Terpenes in CBD

Cannabis sativa L. is no exception to its brothers and sisters in the plant kingdom, with its distinctive smell attributable to the 100 or so terpenes that it produces. In fact, it’s thought that the individual terpene profiles of different strains of Cannabis Sativa L. are responsible for the characteristic odour each strain gives off. 

How are terpenes important to your CBD though? Well, some CBD products, including our DragonflyCBD Broad-Spectrum Oil, retain many of the naturally occurring terpenes found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. As well as providing our broad-spectrum oil with a more distinct flavour, leaving terpenes in the mix ensures that it retains more of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant’s natural goodness. 

Meet the Family

While there are a huge variety of terpenes present in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant, we want to introduce you to some of the more important ones:

Myrcene – 

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in the Cannabis plant, with a Swiss study from 1997 suggesting it may comprise up to 50% of the terpene content in a given strain of Cannabis Sativa L. Myrcene’s is often described as having an earthy, fruity, clove-like aroma and is found in a huge variety of different plants, ranging from the fruit of the mango tree to wild thyme.

Limonene – 

As the name indicates, limonene is the terpene found in many varieties of citrus fruit, from lemons (surprise surprise) to grapefruits. It’s also abundant in many different strains of Cannabis Sativa L., including those sold for recreational purposes in the USA, something that’s given rise to a variety of flowery names: lemon haze, lemon kush, orange kush, etc. Of course, CBD is made from strains of Cannabis Sativa L. that contain less than 0.2% THC, but you’ll still find limonene in these strains, lending its characteristic aroma to our broad-spectrum oil.

Caryophyllene – 

Caryophyllene is unique in the world of terpenes in as far as it can often exhibit the same chemical behaviour as many cannabinoids. Caryophyllene is the terpene responsible for giving black pepper its distinct spicy aroma and can also be found in spices like cinnamon, clove and oregano. At DragonflyCBD we have a bit of a soft spot for caryophyllene as it’s one of the most abundant terpenes found in our CBD.

Humulene – 

If you’ve ever visited a brewery then you’ll know exactly what humulene smells like. Responsible for the floral, herbal fragrance given off by hops, humulene is also abundant in cannabis, which explains the similarity between the two smells. A very close relative of caryophyllene, humulene is found in many of the same sources, including plants like sage and tobacco.

Our Fragrant Friends

As you can see, terpenes play a crucial role in both the life of plants and your nose’s day to day experience. See which ones your nose can pick out next time you’re sampling one of our broad-spectrum oils!



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