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CBD and Terpenes: How Terpenes Enhance the Effects of Cannabinoids

The perfect team you didn't know existed.
By Colorado Botanicals |
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On its own, CBD doesn’t offer the full benefits of the hemp plant. Combined with terpenes, however, CBD unlocks the hidden power of hemp. Terpenes strengthen the effects of CBD that are already there, and they might also modify the effects of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid to enhance certain specific attributes.

In this guide, learn what terpenes are, how they’re beneficial, and how to find the best CBD oil with terpenes. CBD might not seem so revolutionary anymore, but terpenes are the next frontier of natural health science. Find out everything you need to know about terpenes to choose a company that offers the most effective products.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are natural aromatic compounds that are found in hemp and many other plants. Non-intoxicating while providing impressive medicinal benefits, no two terpenes are alike, and there are dozens of terpenes present in hemp flowers.

Some of them, like limonene, may already be familiar. That’s the terpene that makes oranges smell citrusy, after all, and pinene is the substance in sap that produces the easily recognizable aroma of pine trees. Terpenes are all around us in nature, but few plants aside from cannabis bring together so many diverse terpenes so beautifully and deliciously.

What are the Benefits of Terpenes?

Researchers have discovered at least 150 unique terpenes in hemp1, making it infeasible to cover the benefits of each aromatic compound in the course of a single article. For our current purposes, we’ll stick with four common cannabis terpenes: beta-caryophyllene, limonene, linalool, and pinene. Scientists have discovered quite a lot about each of these terpenes, and what you learn may surprise you:

Beta-caryophyllene

The same substance that makes red peppers spicy, beta-caryophyllene is unique among terpenes in that it acts as a cannabinoid in your body. Beta-caryophyllene won’t get you high, but it does activate your CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which mediate pain throughout the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

In 2008, scientists submitted a paper suggesting beta-caryophyllene be treated as a cannabinoid2 due to its unique properties, and in 2021, new research was released supporting this terpenes’s cannabinoid-like qualities3. Research into beta-caryophyllene and pain has been limited to animals so far, but initial results indicate this terpene should be strongly investigated as a potential pain treatment.

Limonene

The citrusy terpene limonene has been intensively investigated for its potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Many common conditions have already been linked to oxidative stress and inflammation, and it’s possible the scope of damage these two bodily phenomena cause is far greater than our current understanding indicates.

In 2010, an animal study into the effects of inflammation-related colitis provided some of the first evidence that limonene may have anti-inflammatory properties in vitro4. Then, in 2017, a study conducted using human cell cultures indicated that limonene may reduce oxidative stress5 in the context of leukemia.

Linalool

Linalool is what makes lavender smell so soothing, and scientists have looked at the potential usefulness of this relaxing terpene for various conditions. Of greatest note, however, is research into linalool for depression and anxiety. In 2012, for instance, an animal study found that linalool may reduce symptoms related to anxiety and depression6 in animals subjected to various stress-inducing tests.

Pinene

Like other terpenes, pinene has been investigated for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. What’s unique about piney-smelling pinene, however, is research into this terpene as a potential bronchodilator.

In 2014, for instance, Korean researchers provided evidence that pinene may be useful as a bronchodilator7 in the context of allergy attacks in mice. Since a bronchodilator is a substance that opens up your airways and helps you breathe, pinene may have great utility in the future of respiratory illness treatment.

How Do Terpenes Enhance the Effects of CBD?

Scientists haven’t yet discovered all the chemical mechanisms behind this phenomenon, but considerable evidence indicates that certain terpenes may improve your body’s handling of CBD and other cannabinoids via a type of synergy called the entourage effect. Alone, CBD isn’t able to pass along all the benefits hemp is trying to convey when it packs its flowers to the brim with sweet-smelling, beneficial terpenes. Each terpene augments the benefits of CBD in a different way, but together, a full hemp flower terpene profile liberates CBD to reach its maximum effectiveness.

What is the Entourage Effect?

The best CBD oil combines CBD and terpenes in a simple carrier oil to provide the full benefits of the entourage effect in a convenient, delicious package. Since terpenes taste so great, there’s no need to artificially flavor CBD oil, and the entourage effect is a natural result whenever you use terpenes for flavoring instead.

People who smoke or vape hemp or cannabis flower have long reported that different strains make them feel different effects. Some researchers have posited that the entourage effect may be behind these augmented, boosted effects, so adding terpenes to CBD oil tinctures delivers all the extra benefits these terpenes provide without having to inhale a thing.

Check Lab Reports Before Buying CBD Oil

When you examine a lab report for CBD oil, it’s natural to check for contaminants like heavy metals and solvents first. It’s just as important, however, to review the terpene information included in CBD oil lab reports—if it’s provided at all.

CBD oil manufacturers that don’t include terpenes in their products will often skip terpene analysis in their third-party product testing. The terpenes present in CBD oil can profoundly change its effects, though, so it’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to terpene CBD lab reports. Here’s an example for reference:

Where to Buy CBD Oil with Terpenes

There aren’t many CBD oil companies out there that afford terpenes their proper importance. Colorado Botanicals, however, produces a line of terpene-infused tinctures that not only taste excellent but deliver all the unique benefits each individual terpene provides. More than just that, this brand’s tinctures fully capture the entourage effect, which appears to make CBD more potent. Flavored naturally with terpenes and available in various potency options, Colorado Botanicals CBD tinctures are third-party batch-tested and are accompanied by some of the best terpenes we’ve seen in the industry.

CBD and Terpenes: The Bottom Line

Alone, we can only do so much. With friends at our side, however, our power increases. CBD is the same way: isolated away from its entourage, it can’t deliver its benefits to the fullest. Reunited with the terpenes it emerged alongside in hemp flower, however, CBD can do so much more. Try a CBD tincture with terpenes today to find out for yourself what a massive difference these delicious, sweet-smelling compounds can make.


  1. Booth, J. K., & Bohlmann, J. (2019). Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans. Plant Science, 284, 67–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2019.03.022
  2. Gertsch, J., Leonti, M., Raduner, S., Racz, I., Chen, J. Z., Xie, X. Q., Altmann, K. H., Karsak, M., & Zimmer, A. (2008). Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(26), 9099–9104. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0803601105
  3. LaVigne, J. E., Hecksel, R., Keresztes, A., & Streicher, J. M. (2021). Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity. Scientific Reports, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87740-8
  4. Hirota, R., Roger, N. N., Nakamura, H., Song, H. S., Sawamura, M., & Suganuma, N. (2010). Anti-inflammatory Effects of Limonene from Yuzu (Citrus junos Tanaka) Essential Oil on Eosinophils. Journal of Food Science, 75(3), H87–H92. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01541.x
  5. Yu, L., Yan, J., & Sun, Z. (2017). D-limonene exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in an ulcerative colitis rat model via regulation of iNOS, COX-2, PGE2 and ERK signaling pathways. Molecular Medicine Reports, 15(4), 2339–2346. https://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2017.6241
  6. Guzmán-Gutiérrez, S., Gómez-Cansino, R., García-Zebadúa, J., Jiménez-Pérez, N., & Reyes-Chilpa, R. (2012). Antidepressant activity of Litsea glaucescens essential oil: Identification of β-pinene and linalool as active principles. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 143(2), 673–679. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2012.07.026
  7. Nam, S. Y., Chung, C. K., Seo, J. H., Rah, S. Y., Kim, H. M., & Jeong, H. J. (2014). The therapeutic efficacy of α-pinene in an experimental mouse model of allergic rhinitis. International Immunopharmacology, 23(1), 273–282. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2014.09.010

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