Think back to the last time you walked into a pine forest and were overtaken by the crisp, pungent smell of pine, the air seemingly more pure. Your senses were awoken, and your inner self came alive in that place.
That is the power of terpenes.
The cannabis sativa plant has a complex offering of compounds that interact with our endocannabinoid system. Most people are familiar with CBD and THC, and some may even be familiar with the other compounds like CBG, CBC, THCV and more. Seasoned recreational users of marijuana are also familiar with terpenes, and they know that terpenes are important.
So what are terpenes, and if these terpene molecules are so important can we get them in hemp?
Remember the pine forest again. Now think of the sharp citrus of a freshly zested lemon, or the sweet and floral notes of flower petals. These distinct and nearly universally appreciated smells are due to terpenes.
Terpenes are volatile flavor molecules, meaning they break apart easily, often becoming airborne. These molecules attach to receptors in our olfactory epithelium to signal to our brain that familiar and beneficial compounds are nearby. Our brains have even associated certain smells with nutrients that our body wants.
Plants are smart too, and cannabis sativa has evolved to put off more than 100 types of terpenes to attract wanted attention and repel pests. Humans also played a roll in this evolution through selective breeding — human cannabis cultivation goes back at least as far as our written history!
More Than Just The Smell
Terpenes do more than just smell good. These super molecules also provide a variety of healthful benefits. For example, limonene is a terpene that gives off a distinctively citrus smell has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Linalool is a terpene known to have sedative properties, providing a relaxed feeling. Beta-Caryophyllene, found in black pepper and cannabis, is known to reduce inflammation, provide pain relief and more. It’s no wonder we crave black pepper on so many foods!
Terpenes can have beneficial effects and can make other nutrients more available — this entourage effect increases bioavailability. This is important because CBD can get to work faster and work better depending on the presence of terpenes. Think of terpenes like a guidance system, with different terpenes leading CBD and other compounds to different parts of our body. And we humans have only scratched the surface of understanding these compounds.
At Cannadips we are aware of many the nuances and play the terpenes to your benefit. We preserve these volatile molecules in our processing by keeping temperatures low and minimizing air exposure, along with other steps to allow the terpenes to improve the bioavailability of our CBD. This is partly what makes our pouches work so darn well, all the while tasting fantastic.
So What About Hemp?
Hemp too can provide a diverse and exciting array of terpenes, including limonene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, myrcene and more. Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis and is credited for the distinctive musky smell of cannabis.
However, high-terpene hemp can be hard to find. Marijuana has been selectively bred to be high in terpenes and higher in THC over time as outlaw farmers sought to produce more effective and variable THC effects. Hemp is a form of cannabis sativa that was bred to be low in THC, minimize its odor, and utilized for industrial purposes like fiber.
Hemp farming for medical research was only legalized in 2014, and in 2018 the US government legalized the growth of large scale industrial hemp. Due to the legal environment of western society, only now are we able to start exploring the possibilities of high-terpene, low-THC cannabis plants.It is challenging to source high-terpene hemp or hemp with a diversity of alternative molecules (CBG, CBC, CBN, etc.) outside of small boutique farms. Cannadips goes to great lengths to find the best hemp we can for our CBD products. We are based in Humboldt County, California and have deep relationships with our farmers from California and Oregon. We work to get our hands on the best hemp possible for our consumers. Our farmers are some of the most experienced growers, going back as much as three generations.