CBD products are more popular than ever before but, while many people are curious and want to try CBD, they often do not understand what it is or how it works. The first thing to note is that it does not contain any psychoactive component, unlike marijuana products that contain THC, so it will not get you high. So, you may be wondering, if it does not get you high, how does it work? CBD, or cannabidiol, works within our body’s natural Endocannabinoid System to provide various potential benefits. Terpenes are unique from CBD, meaning that not all CBD oils may contain terpenes and vice versa. When CBD and terpenes are used concurrently, the user may experience an ‘entourage effect.’

What are Terpenes? And What Do They Do?

Terpenes are oil compounds secreted in the hemp plant’s glandular trichomes. They are what gives the plant its aroma. Terpenes and hemp share a biochemical precursor, geranyl pyrophosphate, which becomes cannabinoids and terpenoids that saturate the plant’s flowering top. Terpenoids are characterized as Monoterpenes, Diterpenes, and Sesquiterpenes, characterized by the number of repeating units of a 5-carbon molecule called Isoprene, the structure of all terpenoid compounds.

Monoterpenes– Are a class of terpenes that consist of two Isoprene units and compounds found in the essential oils extracted from many plants, including fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. These compounds contribute to the Flavor and Aroma of the plant from which they are extracted. Modified terpenes, such as those containing oxygen functionality or missing a methyl group, are called Monoterpenoids. 

Diterpenes– Are a class of chemical compounds composed of four Isoprene units that form the basis for biologically important compounds such as retinol, retinal, and phytol. They are known to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.

Sesquiterpenes- Are a class of terpenes that consist of three isoprene units. Geosmin, a volatile compound that gives an earthy taste and musty order while drinking water and has a similar odor as on a rainy day.

Isoprene- The most common hydrocarbon released into the atmosphere from plants. Many Isoprene emitters are from woody plant species.

Common Terpenes 

Alpha-pinene- The most common terpene in the plant world. Pine is thought to promote alertness and memory by the metabolic breakdown of acetylcholinesterase, a neurotransmitter in the brain that stimulates cognitive effects.

Beta-caryophyllene– A sesquiterpene found in black pepper, oregano, clove, and many leafy vegetables. It may also help relieve discomfort and provide inflammation support because it binds directly to the peripheral cannabinoid receptor CB2.

Limonene – A major terpene found in citrus plants is thought to help boost mood, uplifting, and powerful antimicrobial action to help against bacteria.

Linalool– A terpenoid found in lavender, when applied topically, may help aid with skin conditions, inflammation support, and aid in ailment discomfort.

Myrcene- Found in mangos may help the muscle relax, relieve discomfort, and provide inflammation support.


Why are terpenes so important? Discover Magazine explains how CBD and terpenes work synergistically together for more effective results, “CBD products also benefit from the Entourage Effect. For example, terpenes present in CBD oil help the body in three important ways. They improve our ability to absorb beneficial chemicals through the blood-brain barrier, overcome bacterial defense mechanisms, and increase the absorption and effectiveness of cannabinoids. A 2011 study by Russo proved that, even without the presence of THC, terpenes still worked synergistically to produce the Entourage Effect. This resulted in a complete therapeutic experience for the user. This means that a CBD product with naturally occurring terpenes is far more effective than a product that only contains CBD.” When researching which CBD product would be best for your desired results, consider looking for a product containing both CBD and terpenes that includes a full panel lab report showing these important plant compounds.