CBD & Terpenes

5 min read

CBD & Terpenes

You’ve probably come across the term “terpenes” when researching CBD products. They’re an essential but often overlooked component of Onyx & Rose CBD products. What exactly are terpenes, and what do they do? We’ll break it down for you.

The background

It’s no secret that marijuana and hemp got a bad rep in the 20th century. Most people are familiar with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of marijuana, as well as CBD, the well-touted cannabinoid with a vast array of potential benefits. There’s more to the science of cannabinoids and your health than this duo, and that’s where terpenes come in. When marijuana became illegal, hemp became negatively (and unfairly) associated. Science and medicine weren’t able to delve into CBD, terpenes, and other flavonoids like we can now, thanks in part to the 2018 Farm Bill. The more scientists learn about how components of hemp work together, the more intriguing the role of terpenes is becoming.

If you love the scent of fresh pine, aromatic lavender, or relaxing eucalyptus, then you have terpenes and terpenoids to thank. Along with fragrance, they’re also responsible for the tastes and scents of many botanicals. These aromatic metabolites can be found in the oils of all plants. Over 20,000 terpenes can be found in nature, and over 100 of them are produced by the hemp plant! And terpenes do more than being an aromatic force—they also help protect plants from fungi, pests, and even bacteria. It’s no wonder that scientists are increasingly exploring individual terpenes and their unique and unusual characteristics.

The breakdown

Amongst the terpenes found in hemp, several are gaining the recognition they deserve and appearing more and more often as the focus of scientific research. Here are some noteworthy terpenes and what they may do.


Beta-caryophyllene can be found in everyday spices, such as black pepper, basil, and oregano. Unlike other terpenes, Beta-caryophyllene has properties that are more similar to other cannabinoids.  Scientists believe that beta-caryophyllene has the ability to directly activate cannabinoid receptors. In fact, it’s one of the first non-cannabinoids found to have this ability! Beta-caryophyllene works as a CB2 agonist, which means that it binds to the CB2 receptor and activates the receptor to produce a response. As we’ve covered before, the activation of CB2 receptors is thought to help moderate inflammation and may impact our immune response to conditions such as autoimmune disorders, arthritis, and more.


If you’ve ever encountered the recognizable familiar earthy, musky, or spicy smell that’s commonly associated with hemp, you have myrcene to thank. This terpene is one of the ten primary terpenes found in hemp and believed to work synergistically with cannabinoids to promote sedative properties. Myrcene is a natural remedy for falling and staying asleep according to this study performed on mice, which found that myrcene helped increase sleep duration by 2.6 times. For those who have insomnia, taking a high quality, full plant extract CBD product may help.


Your favorite citrus fruits get their refreshing scent from limonene. But this fantastic terpene does more than smell great. There is ongoing research between the potential link between limonene and how it could impact anxiety, depression, and boost overall mood. Scientists believe that limonene interacts with 5-HT1A receptors to reduce anxiety, but the exact mechanism is still unknown. There’s also an increasing research surround limonene, and its potential anti-cancer properties, such as the effect it may have on breast cancer.


Relaxing lavender gets its calming scent mainly in part to linalool. It’s no surprise then that this terpene is also thought to potentially improve sleep and reduce anxiety and stress.  But this soothing terpene is even believed to be capable of playing a part in more severe conditions. In a 2016 study, scientists findings suggested that linalool “reverses the histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease and restores cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect. Thus, linalool may be an Alzheimer’s disease  prevention candidate for preclinical studies.”


Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene are potent anti-inflammatory terpenes. As you may have guessed, they’re found in nature in pines as well as herbs such as rosemary and basil. Pinene is often used by those with Chron’s Disease, due to the impact it may have on stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions. In a 2015 study, scientists report that their data “showed that α-pinene exhibited significant antiulcerogenic activity and a great correlation between the concentration of α-pinene and gastroprotective effect.” There’s also ongoing research about the impact this terpene may have on respiratory conditions, arthritis, and even cancer.

The bottom line

Cannabinoids don’t act alone, and they’re not the only therapeutic compounds found in hemp. The bigger picture of how CBD works best is one that includes top quality, whole-plant extract. The wide variety of terpenes included in a whole plant extract may have a myriad of benefits that an isolated product simply cannot offer. With their numerous potential benefits, terpenes are an essential part of our understanding of The Entourage Effect. The future of hemp looks increasingly bright, and we’re excited to see how diverse, naturally occurring terpenes and cannabinoids work together to improve health for as many people as possible.