Hemp terpenes impact the smell, taste and benefits of hemp products. They are found abundantly in hemp essential oil, as well as in full spectrum CBD. Read our guide to hemp terpenes to learn about how they work and their benefits, including a break down of ten of the most common terpenes in hemp.


Different hemp terpenes in oil

Hemp terpenes are compounds found in the hemp plant that impact the smell, taste and benefits of hemp products. They are found abundantly in hemp essential oil, as well as in full spectrum CBD. Read our guide to hemp terpenes to learn about how they work and their benefits, including a breakdown of ten of the most common terpenes in hemp.

CBD hemp essential oil with terpenes

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are a massively wide ranging collection of organic compounds that are produced by many plants (and even some insects!). They are responsible for the strong and distinct smells of plants — think about the smell of walking through a pine forest — as well as their taste.

They’re made from carbon, hydrogen and sometimes oxygen, but arranged in different ways to produce unique effects. There are also compounds called terpenoids, which are very similar but are made from more complicated arrangements of atoms and more commonly contain oxygen.

Natural Terpenes

Terpenes allow the plant to communicate with things in the world, usually insects or other animals. This could be to ward away herbivores that would eat them or to entice predators that might eat the herbivores.

Naturally different plants and animals will release terpenes under different conditions. For example, corn seedlings release terpenes when they’re under attack from caterpillars. The terpenes then attract wasps, whose larvae, when hatched on the corn, will eat the caterpillars.

Researchers have also suggested that some terpenes emitted by trees actually cause weather conditions to change. Terpenes released in a fir tree forest become aerosol, which helps water vapor condense into clouds, ultimately causing it to rain.

Terpenes affect the smell and taste of a plant. They’re what makes cannabis smell so distinct and give CBD oil its strong, earthy taste. However, they also have significant therapeutic effects. They are the makeup of essential oils which are used in aromatherapy, and each terpene found in the hemp plant has its own set of benefits to the body.

As humans, we’ve been harnessing the power of terpenes and using them to create perfume, therapeutic oils and even food preservatives for hundreds of years.

Bottle of hemp terpenes

Terpenes, Hemp And Cannabis

Like many plants, the hemp plant releases its own collection of terpenes. The specific terpene profile of hemp or cannabis will vary between different cultivars. This means that hemp plants cultivated and grown to produce CBD oil will contain a different terpene profile to those grown to make cannabis. And even within this, there are lots of different strains that will all be slightly different to each other.

There are loads of terpenes in the hemp plant that each have different benefits to us as humans. Full-spectrum CBD oil will contain a full variety of the different terpenes present in hemp plants, helping you to get all the benefits.

You’ll also find all these terpenes in hemp essential oil. They give the oil its unique aroma and therapeutic benefits.

Benefits of Hemp Terpenes

Hemp is extremely rich in terpenes, which is one of the reasons that cannabis has such a distinct and strong aroma. Experts have distinguished up to one hundred and twenty different terpenes and terpenoids in the plant!

The benefits of terpenes generally are wide ranging; they are used in lots of different industries and for lots of different purposes. In fact, there are thought to be 20,000 kinds of terpenes in nature, many of which we use in products for humans.

The aromatic properties of terpenes mean they are indispensable to the cosmetics industry, primarily in making perfumes. They are also used within the food industry as preservatives and within pharmaceuticals for making medicine.

Each terpene has its own unique chemical makeup, smell, taste and therefore benefits. People have been creating and using essential oils for thousands of years for the benefits that terpenes can bring. In order to better understand how hemp essential oil could be beneficial, we’ll break down some of the most common and abundant terpenes found in hemp and look at their individual properties.

This includes:

  • Limonene – citrus fragrance
  • Linalool – lavender fragrance
  • Pinene – pine fragrance
  • Valencene – citrus fragrance
  • Alpha-bisabolol – sweet and floral fragrance
  • Humulene – hops fragrance
  • Myrcene – hops fragrance
  • Delta 3 Carene – sweet, earthy, and piney fragrance
  • Terpineol – lilac fragrance
  • Caryophyllene – cloves and black pepper fragrance
  • Eucalyptol – eucalyptus fragrance
  • Geraniol – rose fragrance
  • Trans-nerolidol – woody fragrance

Next time you use your CBD oil or hemp essential oil, give it a smell and see if you can pick out any of these terpenes!

10 Common Terpenes In Hemp And Their Benefits

1. Pinene

Pinene is the most abundant terpene found in nature. It creates the distinct smell of pine trees (or Christmas trees!), for example, but is also responsible for the piney taste that you might be able to pick up in CBD oil.

Pinene is a bronchodilator, which means it relaxes the muscles involved in the respiratory system, making it easier to breathe. The chemicals in an asthmatic’s inhaler, for example, do the same thing. This means that inhaling pinene helps you to relax and improve your breathing.

While improving breathing and oxygen intake is its primary benefit, it also has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-proliferative (limiting cell growth of tumours) and antioxidant effects.

Pinine is a hemp terpene

2. Linalool

Linalool is found in a huge number of cosmetics, soaps, antiperspirants and perfumes. It has a floral, spicy fragrance and naturally occurs in lavender, basil, hops and many other flowering plants. It has anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving), antidepressant, antipsychotic, anxiolytic (anxiety relieving), and sedative effects.

It’s a fantastic terpene both for its wonderful smell and its ability to be extremely calming. People are usually aware of the calming effects of lavender and this is, in a large part, due to the linalool. It means that the linalool in hemp essential oil is particularly useful for calming and preparing you for sleep.

Lavender containing linalool

3. Limonene

Limonene, you might guess from the name, has a strong citrus fragrance and taste, and is found in the peel of lots of citrus fruits, including (of course) lemons. It’s used in a massive range of products including cleaning supplies, but also as a food flavouring and in medicine. It’s used in creams to help the skin absorb other chemicals, which is limonene’s primary benefit.

It helps the skin, and mucous membranes in other parts of the body, to better absorb other terpenes. It also has wider benefits: Limonene is an antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative (reduces the growth of tumours and perhaps even kills tumour cells), anxiolytic (anxiety reducing), gasto-pesphageal reflux (relating to easing acid reflux), immunostimulant (stimulating the immune system).

4. Myrcene

Myrcene is, structurally, one of the smallest terpenes, but is found in huge abundance in the hemp plant. You might have heard of indica or sativa cannabis varieties. These are dictated by levels of myrcene. In regards to cannabis, it interacts with THC and affects how the high associated with cannabis is experienced.

In CBD oil or hemp essential oil (neither of which provide a high), myrcene can be recognised by its fruity and earthy taste and smell. As well as in the hemp plant, it also occurs naturally in mango and lemongrass.

It has a range of benefits that include being analgesic (pain relieving), antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia (helping you to sleep), antiproliferative and antimutagenic (reducing risk of DNA mutation which can lead to tumours), antipsychotic, and antispasmodic (relating to muscle spasms).

Mangoes contain the same terpene as hemp

5. Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene is an interesting terpene found in the hemp plant as it’s the only one known to directly interact with the endocannabinoid system — on the CB2 receptor. This is the system through which CBD, and other cannabinoids, interact with the body. Through this, it helps to relieve pain, working as an important anti-inflammatory. It is particularly effective when working in conjunction with CBD. Full spectrum CBD oil will also contain this terpene, helping to accentuate the effects of CBD alone.

Caryophyllene smells spicy and is found in cinnamon, black pepper and cloves. It has analgesic, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, antioxidant, anxiolytic, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects.

6. Humulene

Humulene has a more subtle fragrance, quite earthy and woody with additional spicy undertones. As well as the hemp plant, it’s found naturally occuring in cloves, basil and hops. It is thought to have analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anorectic (suppressing appetite) effects.

7. Bisabolol

Bisabolol has a light, floral fragrance. It’s found naturally in chamomile, and has been used for hundreds of years in cosmetics because it has been thought to have properties that help to repair the skin.

This viewpoint likely formed because bisabolol is a pro-apoptotic agent. Apoptosis is the natural process of cell death that helps to body to rejuvenate and renew itself by recycling old cells. It’s possible that bisabolol is thought to improve skin by encouraging the removal of old cells to rejuvenate the skin.

Its pro-apoptotic properties have been shown to impact acute leukemia cells. Bisabolol also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-irritant effects.

8. Terpinolene

Terpinolene is a terpene in hemp with a smokey or woody fragrance. It’s one of the lesser abundant terpenes in the hemp plant. It can also be found in nutmeg, tea tree, conifer plants, apples and lilac.

It acts acts a sedative, helping to calm the mind to make going to sleep more easy. This means its very effective for those using hemp essential oil to help with relaxation.

9. Terpineol

Terpineol smells like lilacs and is, unsurprisingly, found in this flower. It’s also found in pine, as well as the hemp plant. Scientists are interested in terpineol as an antioxidant, anticancer, anticonvulsant, antiulcer, antihypertensive and anti-nociceptive (pain relief) compound. (Source)

10. Selina-3, 7 (11)-diene

Selina-3, 7 (11)-diene is one of the terpenes in hemp that has been discovered more recently (and doesn’t have a very easy name to remember!). Scientists are still exploring the properties of this terpene, but it has been used in essential oil antimicrobial tests.

CBD Oil and Hemp Essential Oil

CBD oil (full-spectrum) and hemp essential oils both contain a full range of terpenes — more than we included on our list! The difference between them is that hemp essential oil does not contain cannabinoids, including CBD. Essential oil is mainly used for aromatherapy while CBD oil can be consumed as a health supplement to combine the hemp terpene benefits with CBD.

Hemp Terpenes

Hemp terpenes are found in a wide range of CBD products from full-spectrum CBD oil through to hemp essential oil. They have a huge range of benefits and are especially used in aromatherapy treatments to help relax and calm the body and mind.