We all know that fruit and vegetables can provide quality doses of nourishment and support to the body, making them essential to consume daily. But, what exactly is it about these plants that provide such support? Of course, various components make up fruits and vegetables, but one of these elements — terpenes — is vital in providing a number of health benefits including physical relaxation, stress relief, pain and inflammation reduction, memory retention and many others.
There are many people who recognize terpenes for their aromatic profiles, aiding in the tastes that help you enjoy these foods the most. But, not everybody realizes that these tasty terpenes have super supportive therapeutic value, as well!
That’s why, today, we’re taking a deep dive into some of the most prominent health benefits of terpenes. These health benefits vary from terpene to terpene, but they’re some of the most widespread and commonly reported. Let’s get right into it.
First thing’s first: what are terpenes, exactly? Terpenes are chemical compounds found in nature that plants produce for various reasons. Typically, terpene secretion is a plant’s response to predators or danger. When they release these stinky notes, it repels predators and helps protect the plant. For other plants, producing terpenes actually helps to attract the right pollinators and support life. It just depends!
In terms of the plants themselves, terpenes work beautifully to protect the plant — both on the inside and out. As we mentioned, the smell alone protects the actual body of the plant. At the same time, the terpenes’ therapeutic properties work to protect the plant’s immune system and fight off potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
When we hear of terpenes’ medicinal values within plants themselves, it’s not hard to imagine that their supportive properties work for humans, too. We’ll talk about this more in detail later, but studies demonstrate profound the medicinal value of terpenes for everyday people, with benefits ranging all throughout the body.
We can assume that terpenes work well in the body because these compounds also function alongside the ECS. The ECS, or endocannabinoid system, is a system of cell signalers found in the human body. This system works to ensure that all of your biological functions — appetite, mood, sleep, pain — are working just as they should. Unfortunately, sometimes, the body needs a bit of help achieving this kind of inner stability; thankfully, compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes bind wonderfully.
If these natural compounds are so helpful, where can you find them to enjoy? Luckily for you, you can discover terpenes in a lot of different plants.
Terpenes are most commonly associated with the cannabis plant, as cannabis contains an abundance of terpenes. These terpenes are what make every cannabis strain smell, taste, and feel a little bit differently after consumption. So, if you’re someone who enjoys medical marijuana or some CBD products, you’ll easily come across some terpenes within these. You can find products with specific terpenes if you find ones you like most, as well.
If you’re not into cannabis, that’s okay! You can also find an extensive terpene profile in most teas, as the herbs inside are packed full of these aromatic beauties. Different tea blends will produce slightly different terpene profiles, which is why they taste and smell unique. Lavender, for example, is a ubiquitous ingredient in most sleepy time tea blends; this herb contains a terpene called linalool which is known for its calming, soothing properties.
Citrus fruits, too, boast prominent terpene profiles — but that shouldn’t surprise you! It’s so easy to pick up on the bright, refreshing notes of these fruits. For that, you can thank terpenes! Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits have pungent terpenes profiles that help make them the delicious fruits you love to eat.
So, the short answer is that you can find terpenes in your favorite fruits, your favorite teas, and even within your medical marijuana. Plant terpenes are everywhere, and manufacturers choose to isolate them every day to enjoy their specific benefits. That being said, you can just purchase isolated terpenes to add to your daily routines if you don’t want to enjoy the actual plant they’re derived from.
Now that we’ve given you everything you need to know about what terpenes are and where you can find them, let’s start talking about the actual health benefits they possess. These therapeutic values differ from terpene to terpene. This means that while one terpene may be excellent for combating specific aches and pains, another terpene may be ideal for relaxing the mind and helping you get some sleep. It simply depends! However, the following health benefits are five of the most common that people report.
Many well-known terpenes demonstrate clear anti-inflammatory properties that can do wonders for the body. For those who are constantly struggling with arthritic pains or other bone and joint complications, reducing inflammation is crucial — but it’s not always easy. Thankfully, terpenes — think myrcene, for example — produce strong anti-inflammatory properties that target these painful areas directly.
Studies show that terpenes like myrcene have the ability to slow or halt the process of bone cartilage destruction. This kind of prevention helps combat bone density loss and weakness, allowing you to potentially regain strength and fight inflammation. Other terpenes can actually work to regulate pain perception and response in the body. This helps you to better react to pain and have less extreme reactions, granting comfort and relaxation when you need it most. Regulation like this may make pains feel more manageable and give you the boost you need to get your health back on track.
You can find myrcene specifically in lemongrass, hops, mangos, basil, and Myrcia sphaerocarpa — the plant that the terpene got its name from.
Along with having anti-inflammatory properties, we know other terpenes for their analgesic properties. Analgesics are drugs that specifically work to mediate pain and provide relief. While terpenes are not manufactured drugs, these natural compounds demonstrate pain-relieving properties similar to analgesics, giving them profound therapeutic potential.
Research demonstrates that terpenes like myrcene, alpha-pinene, and caryophyllene all release analgesic characteristics, aiding in pain relief for all sorts of conditions. Alpha-pinene appears to regulate pain response while lowering inflammation and even working to reduce tooth pain. On the other hand, Myrcene has analgesic effects that appear to last longer than those of morphine. Finally, caryophyllene binds to the body’s CB2 receptors. Targeting these receptors has been looked into for pain-relieving therapies as they directly control modulating pain responses. And, this is exactly what caryophyllene appears to do.
If you’re looking to try some analgesic terpenes for yourself, you’ll find alpha-pinene in things like pine trees, orange peels, tangerines, dill, rosemary, and conifer trees. Ever wonder why taking a stroll through the forest is so peaceful? The smell of those pine trees has more of a positive effect on you than you may realize. For caryophyllene, you’ll discover this terpene in hops, black pepper, cinnamon, basil, and oregano.
Beautifully, some terpenes appear to have anti-cancer characteristics that may aid in the comfort of those suffering. We have to stress that we are in no way saying that terpenes can treat or cure these complications; instead, they’re great for helping with some of the symptoms that cancer and cancer treatments present.
In a study conducted about the limonene terpene, scientists found that the terpene demonstrated strong anti-cancer properties. Specifically, limonene worked to destroy breast cancer cells and even reduce cancer proliferation in those suffering. This kind of result is incredibly encouraging for those who feel helpless or out of options.
Alpha-pinene, myrcene, linalool, and humulene are all terpenes that also produce similar properties. Some terpenes target melanoma growth, while others prevent tumor growth and slow down the production of cancerous cells. Altogether, terpenes like these can help provide some serious relief and relaxation for multiple types of cancers, of all severity levels, too.
If you’re interested in trying some limonene, you don’t have to look too far. You can find this citrusy terpene in lemons, limes, oranges, and orange rinds.
We cannot discredit the incredible calming health benefits that terpenes bring. Like we mentioned at the beginning, you’ll likely come across some strong terpene profiles within your tea blends — and aren’t teas a wonderful way to calm you down? There’s a reason for this connection! Terpenes are commonly associated with aromatherapy, which is the idea that certain scents can actually stimulate receptors in the brain, calming you down and proving you a sense of relief.
Terpenes like linalool, for example, are specifically utilized for their soothing characteristics, helping to relieve anxiety and calm the mind. Studies show that linalool also helps to induce levels of adenosine in the brain, which is a chemical that helps induce sleepiness and relaxation. When this occurs, actually falling asleep becomes so much easier, and your body is in a heavier state of comfort than usual. So, enjoying a cup of lavender tea before bed is likely a wonderful decision if you’re someone who struggles to fall asleep at night.
Linalool isn’t the only calming terpene in the bunch, either. Others like myrcene, caryophyllene, and terpinolene produce calming, anti-anxiety, and sleep-inducing properties. A lot of these terpenes have been utilized for centuries by ancient civilizations to help with sleep and relaxation naturally. You won’t only find linalool in lavender, either; you can enjoy this terpene from thyme and basil as well.
Overall, terpenes are wonderful for nourishing, protecting, and strengthening the body. These all-natural chemical compounds each provide a unique effect that can benefit your immune system, your bones, or even just your sleep schedule. Whether it’s working to manage pain, helping with focus, improving memory, reducing the severity of seizures or something totally different, the incredible health benefits of terpenes are impossible to deny.
Just as terpenes work to protect the plants that they’re inside, these components work to protect our bodies, as well. If you’re looking to experience a specific benefit, always take the time to research the terpene you’re interested in and see how it tends to react in the body. There are so many scientific studies available about these aromatic substances, helping you fully understand the beauty of terpenes.
We mentioned linalool, limonene, alpha-pinene, and caryophyllene, but those are only a few of the terpenes we have available to us. Other terpenes like humulene and geraniol are also being looked into for their incredible health benefits and therapeutic value. The more we look into these complex compounds, the better we’ll get to know how these terpenes can help our health and wellness.
It’s incredibly reassuring knowing that you can fully embrace the health benefits of terpenes if you’d like. The idea that terpenes only come from cannabis is 100% false, but it’s something that many people believe. However, as we demonstrated, you’ll find therapeutic terpenes in fruits, vegetables, herbs, trees, and so much more. There’s no shortage of terpenes on our aromatic planet, and with them coming from Mother Nature herself, there’s no worry about consumption.
Take a stroll through the woods, eat an orange, or sip on some lavender tea. Doing these everyday tasks may seem simple enough, but they do so much more for your body than you may imagine. With the help of terpenes, your body gets a whole extra dose of support, helping your internal functions work just as they’re meant to — or maybe even a bit better.