When you think of cannabis compounds, you probably picture CBD and THC. One is psychoactive, the other is not. One is federally legal; the other is only legal in some states. They are vastly different, equally interesting, and constitute a sizeable percentage of the organic compounds within cannabis.
But there are actually over 500 different compounds in cannabis, and these include an array of terpenes and flavonoids.
What are these compounds, what do they do, and why should you care?
What are Terpenes?
If you browse through the virtual shelves of online hemp flower retailers, you’ll see a wealth of CBD-rich hemp buds organized by fragrance and taste.
You’ll see descriptive words like “crushed black pepper”, “sour candy”, and “sweet fruits”. Some will even tell you that a specific bud smells like freshly cut lavender or sharp grapefruit peel.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s not just a way for the copywriter to earn their price per word, nor is it some kind of satirical take on wine snobbery.
Those fragrances really exist, and for the most part, they are provided by unique compounds known as terpenes.
There are terpenes present in most plants and herbs, including the cannabis plant. These naturally-occurring compounds are as diverse as they are aromatic, and they have been studied for their unique interactions.
Here are a number of the terpenes you can find in hemp strains, along with their noted fragrances:
- Myrcene: Earthy, fruity, found in mangoes.
- Limonene: Fresh, sharp, and citrusy. Found in the peel of citrus fruits.
- Linalool: A fragrant terpene also found in lavender flowers.
- Beta-Caryophyllene: Spicy and peppery. Found in black pepper and cloves.
- Pinene: Also found in pine needles, this terpene produces sour, woody, and gassy notes.
- Bisabolol: Fragrant, flowery, and found in chamomile.
- Cineole: Also known as Eucalyptol, cineole is found in large quantities within the eucalyptus tree.
- Trans-nerolidol: Commonly found in jasmine, lemongrass, and other herbs and flowers, with a similar fragrance.
- Borneol: Found in essential oils of herbs like rosemary and mint, borneol produces strong minty and herby notes.
- Terpineol: Floral, sweet, and minty.
- Geraniol: Often used in lotions, bath/body products, and essential oils, this terpene produces sweet and fragrant notes. It can be found in fragrant flowers, as well as tobacco and citrus fruits.
- Valencene: Found in oranges, produces strong citrus notes.
- Humulene: Previously known as alpha-caryophyllene, this terpene is found in hops and is very earthy and woody.
- Delta-3 Carene: Said to resemble the fragrance of a cypress tree, can also be found in peppers, pine, and cedar.
- Camphene: A musty, earthy fragrance similar to fir needles.
What Are Flavonoids?
Flavonoids, just like terpenes, are found throughout nature, including in cannabis plants. Flavonoids affect the plant’s pigmentation, which means they help to give cannabis flowers their unique colors.
Anthocyanins are a great example of this. These compounds are responsible for producing blues, reds, and purples. They are found in large concentrations in grapes, berries, and many blue/purple/red vegetables, and you’ll also find them in cannabis flowers with strong blue and purple tints.
It’s not just about color, though. Flavonoids are thought to be one of the reasons that a whole food diet is closely correlated with good health, as these compounds are abundant in fruits, vegetables, and herbs, all of the things that your doctor wants you to eat more of.
Cannaflavin A and Cannaflavin B are two of the most interesting flavonoids produced by the cannabis plant. These compounds are found in very small concentrations, but they have been the subject of much exciting research into cannabis and its many constituent compounds.
Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids
The endocannabinoid system is vastly complex, and the same could be said for hemp, which contains hundreds of naturally-occurring compounds. Humans have been using hemp for thousands of years, but we’re still making new discoveries and learning more about this system and the compounds that act upon it.
One of the theories that is quickly becoming an accepted fact within the hemp community is that the whole plant is better than individual extracts. This is known as the “Entourage Effect”, and it implies that you’ll get more by consuming a full-spectrum CBD oil (one containing a range of natural cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) as opposed to a CBD isolate.
The jury is still out on this one, but it’s certainly the more complete, natural, and holistic approach to consuming cannabinoids.
When choosing CBD oils, remember the following:
- Full-spectrum CBD oil is a complete extract that contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds found within the cannabis plants, including flavonoids and terpenes.
- Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains all cannabis compounds with the exception of THC, which is removed to prevent positive drug tests.
- CBD isolate contains only CBD and has had all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids removed.
It’s not just CBD oils, either. Most CBD products are made with oils or extracts, including gummies, which contain drops of oil in various concentrations. The product label should tell you what type of oil it is.
Is CBD Oil With Terpenes Better?
We certainly believe so, and that’s why we use full-spectrum oil extracted from the hemp plant. The same is true for many other leading producers and the general consensus within the hemp/cannabis community is that full/broad spectrums are best.
But of course, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Summary: What Are Terpenoids And Flavonoids?
Hemp isn’t just about cannabinoids. The best hemp products are not just the ones that contain the highest concentration of CBD. That certainly plays a big role, but CBD is just a small sketch in a vast mural.
There is a lot of exciting research out there concerning terpenes and flavonoids. If you’re interested in learning more about this plant and its many unique compounds, we recommend checking out the latest cannabis science, including this guide to terpenes and this one on flavonoids.
If you want to try these compounds for yourself, grab a bottle of full-spectrum CBD oil!