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What Are Terpenes and Terpenoids?

If you do any amount of research on CBD, you’ll come across these terms: terpenes and terpenoids. But what are terpenes and terpenoids? What benefits do they provide to the human body? And why is keeping terpenoids in CBD products important? We’ll break it down for you in this article.


Let’s start with the “what.” Aromatic compounds responsible for creating the characteristic scent of many plants, terpenes are one of the most abundant and diverse compounds found in the natural world. Plants with strong scents—cannabis, orange peel, rosemary, pine, and lavender, to name a few—have highly concentrated amounts of terpenes.

The purpose of terpenes in nature is multi-faceted. In some plants, the strong scent produced by terpenes can ward off predatory insects or grazing animals. By the same stroke, a plant’s scent can also attract valuable pollinators. Terpenes can also benefit biological plant defense, helping plants heal from damage or proactively protecting them from infectious germs and fungi.

You may see “terpene” and “terpenoid” used interchangeably, but they are not quite the same thing. Terpene is the unoxidized compound found in plants or animal compounds. When a terpene is oxidized (such as when a plant is dried and cured), they become “terpenoids.” Oxidation does occur in the processing of CBD oil, so strictly speaking, what you find in any full-spectrum CBD product will be terpenoids. However, since both terms refer to the same basic compounds, many companies and individuals simply use “terpene” to refer to both.


Terpenoids are bioactive in the human body. In studies, terpenoids have demonstrated beneficial effects on the body. Essential oils and aromatherapy are both popular alternative therapies used to improve mood and reduce stress levels—all thanks to terpenoids.

The benefits of terpenoids go beyond mood and stress, though. They have been shown to be effective in the therapy and prevention of diseases like cancer, and they have antifungal, antiviral, antiallergenic, and anti-inflammatory properties (among many others).

In one study, epilepsy patients who were given a CBD-rich extract showed improved symptoms and fewer side effects than those who took purified (isolate) CBD, suggesting that terpenoids may impact the way the human body uses CBD.


The cannabis plant has over 100 naturally occurring terpenes. Depending on the strain, the dominant terpenes will shift—which is why some varieties smell and taste different than others.

Read more: What does CBD oil taste like?

All Rational Hemp products are thoroughly tested by 3rd party labs (see all our Certificates of Analysis here). Those certificates provide the chemical makeup of our products, including which terpenoids are detectable.

Here are four common CBD terpenoids and their known benefits, all of which were detected in our latest COA from Kaycha Labs:

  • Guaiol (AKA Champacol) – This terpene is most prominently featured in the guaiacum plant, but it can also be found in Cypress pines and other coniferous trees. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antioxidant, and diuretic properties and has been used to treat conditions like arthritis, constipation, gout, sore throat, and high blood pressure.
  • Trans-Nerolidol – Jasmine, tea tree, and lemongrass also contain this floral terpene. It is believed to have a sedating effect, and research is being conducted into its anti-parasitic, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
  • Caryophyllene Oxide – Also found in black pepper, this terpene has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It has been shown to help improve cold tolerance at low ambient temperatures.
  • b-Farnesene – Due to its sedative properties and calming effect, his terpene has been used to treat anxiety, relax muscles, and reduce spasmodic episodes. It has anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, antifungal, and neuroprotective properties.
  • a-Bisabolol – This terpene can also be found in chamomile. It’s ideal for topical CBD because it can enhance the absorption of other molecules by the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-anxiety, anti-depression, and analgesic properties.
  • Trans-Caryophyllene (AKA b-Caryophyllene) – Rosemary oil, hops, cloves, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and basil all have this terpene in common. It has a unique ability to bind with CB2 receptors, which are associated with the body’s immune system and inflammation response. This terpene has potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. It has also been shown to help relieve anxiety and pain, reduce cholesterol, prevent Osteoporosis, and treat seizures.
  • a-Humulene – Also found in black pepper, hops, ginseng, coriander, basil, sage, and balsam fir, this terpene has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and appetite suppressing properties.
  • Cedrol – This terpene can be found in the essential oil of conifers, especially cypress and juniper. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, tonic, diuretic, sedative, insecticidal, and antifungal properties.
  • Terpineol – Also found in narcissus, freesia, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and lemon peel oil, Terpineol has a wide range of properties and applications. It has antioxidant, antibiotic, anticancer, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, antiulcer, antihypertensive, anti-nociceptive, and insecticidal properties.

Terpenoids are an integral part of CBD and are one of the reasons we take a whole-plant approach to our products. With Rational Hemp’s Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract, you will benefit from all naturally occurring compounds of the hemp plant, terpenoids included.

Rational Hemp is regulatory-compliant and contains trace levels of THC under 0.3%.  While we know of no instance where a drug test came back positive after using our Hemp Extract, we cannot guarantee this result. Speak to a physician before using CBD if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription medications.

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