Education Nov 19, 2020

What Are Terpenes in CBD? Understanding Full Spectrum CBD Blends

by Taylor Hogan

What are terpenes in CBD: Populum CBD oil

Whether you're brand new to using full spectrum CBD or are a seasoned user and would like to learn more, we've got you covered. You may be aware cannabinoids are part of full spectrum blends, but what do you know about terpenes? These compounds are found in various plants, and hemp has high concentrations of them. However, we're still learning how these compounds work with cannabinoids.

In this guide, we'll help answer the question, “What are terpenes in CBD?” We'll explore what terpenes are along with the effects they can have on your body. Plus, you’ll learn why you might want to skip CBD isolates in favor of full spectrum CBD products. After all, you don't want to lose out on the potential health benefits cannabinoids and terpenes have to offer.

What Are Terpenes?

Lady bug on hemp plant

If you've ever enjoyed the zesty scent of fresh-cut citrus fruit or the elevating fragrance of crushed pine needles, you've been smelling terpenes.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds responsible for giving various plants their scent and color. You come into contact with terpenes all the time, as these compounds have long been used in fragrances, food flavorings, and personal care and household products.

In nature, terpenes can act as pollinators, attracting bees and other helpful critters to help a plant reproduce. But they can also be used as a self-protection mechanism and repel animals or fend off harmful insects.

They have therapeutic effects since some terpenes function as anti-inflammatories and antifungals, and are also antibacterial and antimicrobial.

There are different kinds of terpenes too. Monoterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, and sesquiterpenes are all present in hemp plants and contribute to its scent.

While you may have heard of terpenoids being used interchangeably with terpenes, they aren't exactly the same. Terpenes are present in a live plant, but once they oxidize, those terpenes become terpenoids.

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What Are Terpenes in CBD?

Because of legal restrictions, there isn’t as much scientific data on how terpenes and cannabinoids work together. Whether it's exploring lesser-known cannabinoids such as CBN and CBG, or how certain parts of the plant interact with our endocannabinoid system, there's clearly much more to uncover.

However, we're making progress. Researchers have identified more than 100 different terpenes in hemp plants responsible for each strain's unique scent and influence on the body. They've even discovered terpenes can cross the blood-brain barrier as well as cell membranes, which is leading to further research. Slowly but surely, we're getting closer to answering, what are terpenes in CBD?

While we can’t do a deep dive on all 100+ terpenes, we can give you a rundown of some of the more common terpenes and what kind of effects they potentially have on the body. Here are some of them:


Also known as Caryophyllene, this terpene is found in several plants and classified as a sesquiterpene with a spicy odor. Cloves, black pepper, and Thai basil all have beta-caryophyllene terpenes in them.

Beta-caryophyllene attaches to CB2 receptors and may have anti-inflammatory effects that could alleviate pain. It's also known to be antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and have anti-tumor activities.


Humulene is a terpene found in hops, cloves, ginger, and Vietnamese coriander. This terpene has several beneficial qualities, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-tumor properties.

Evidence is promising that humulene may prevent allergic reactions and could be used as a natural asthma treatment in the future.


Feel calm after smelling lavender essential oils? If so, you're benefiting from the relaxing effects of the linalool terpenes in the plant (one reason why it's so prevalent in aromatherapy). Aside from lavender, linalool is an abundant terpene found in hundreds of plants. Birch, laurel, coriander, rosewood, and citrus all have linalool terpenes.

Like other terpenes, linalool has anti-inflammatory properties, is antimicrobial, neuroprotective, and helps with depression and anxiety. It also helps with pain and can act as an analgesic.


Limonene is fairly recognizable as it's a common ingredient in perfumes, household products, food, and medicine. That citrusy scent in your natural household cleaner likely comes from limonene. People aren't usually allergic to it, which is one reason why it’s used so widely.

Limonene is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antifungal qualities. Interestingly, limonene helps other terpenes absorb through your skin and into cells, where it’s been found to modulate cell activity.


Mangos, hops, lemongrass, thyme, bay leaves, and eucalyptus all have beta-myrcene terpenes in them. It’s high in antioxidants and may protect cells from oxidative damage.

Beta-myrcene is a precursor to other terpenes and lowers the resistance to crossing the blood-brain barrier. It might also act as a sleep aid and help treat insomnia, spasms, and pain.


Pinene is another abundant terpene found in several different plants, including conifers and pine trees, basil, rosemary, and orange rinds. It acts as a bronchodilator and helps more air get into your lungs. Pinene is anti-inflammatory and may be antibacterial as well.

How Terpenes and CBD Work Together

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CBD stands for cannabidiol (a phytocannabinoid found in hemp plants) and interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Along with other cannabinoids, CBD will attach to specific cannabinoid receptors and help balance and regulate your ECS, affecting your central nervous system.

When you’re shopping for CBD oil, you might be tempted by CBD isolates. After all, you’re looking for pure CBD, right?

Not so fast.

You've probably heard nutritionists talk about eating whole foods rather than taking supplements since your body absorbs nutrients better that way. Well, the same concept applies to a full spectrum CBD oil (or any other full spectrum product).

Full spectrum CBD products use all parts of the plant, so you benefit from the array of cannabinoids and terpenes available. Studies suggest that terpenes positively affect how cannabinoids work in the body and perform better in concert with each other. This is known as the "entourage effect," and researchers suspect that terpenes work with CBD to make it more effective than CBD alone.

We're not sure of the extent to which terpenes affect CBD and other cannabinoids. Still, as legal restrictions loosen, we can expect further studies and more inroads to be made.

All of Populum's CBD products are tested by an independent third-party laboratory. Every product you order comes with lab results, giving you a full breakdown of the cannabinoids and terpene content along with the reassurance your CBD product is free of solvents and mycotoxins.

Be sure to follow the instructions on your CBD products and start low and slow with your dosage. While side effects are rare, you'll want to allow yourself the chance to monitor how your body responds before increasing your dose. Remember, you may need to adjust your dosage as time passes.

Maximizing Terpenes with Full Spectrum CBD Blends

While the choice is yours, if you'd like to take advantage of terpenes and how they might enhance CBD, your best bet is to look for full spectrum CBD products. Whether you go with something topical, like a hemp CBD rub or you opt for tinctures or capsules, as long as you choose something that's full spectrum, you'll have terpenes in your CBD.

As the stigma around hemp products wanes, we can expect to learn more about their effect on the human body. For more information on CBD, don’t miss the Populum blog.

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