How natural terpenes are part of our everyday world
Why does a rose smell like a rose? What gives hemp its distinctive fragrance? Every single day, we are confronted with an untold multitude of aromas from the world around us, but rarely do we ask ourselves how those scents came to be.
Terpenes are what give plants their natural perfume (or pungency, depending on the plant), and not only do they produce unique scents, but they also affect how a plant tastes. These aromatic molecules are the basic building blocks of essential oils, and they are even used in different kinds of beauty products and food additives. Terpenes make up the odoriferous world as we know it, and there can be as many as 100 different kinds of terpenes in a single plant.
Terpenes can actually be found all over the natural world, and they can also be produced by different species of wildlife such as swallowtail butterflies and termites. From an average organism’s perspective, these compounds play a role in protection from disease and predators, but to human biology they can mean much more.
Therapeutic benefits of terpenes
By interacting with our body’s endocannabinoid system these natural compounds can influence our day-to-day disposition. Citrusy terpenes like citronellol or limonene can foster creativity and provide an uplifting effect in the body, while some floral, earthy terpenes such as humulene can inspire calm and rest. In fact, terpenes are widely used in alternative and pharmaceutical medicine, and interestingly, many steroids are made from terpenes.
Scientists are still in the process of researching these molecules to fully understand their benefits, as well as identifying the countless different kinds of terpenes that can occur organically. For instance, in recent years studies have shown that ocimene produces an anti-inflammatory effect, which is an exciting discovery for a rarely-discussed terpene that we previously didn’t know much about.
As we continue to learn more about these powerful aromatic compounds, science is also refining how we experience aromatherapy. By combining specific terpene profiles into targeted sensory blends, we can create an Entourage Effect designed to help us feel how we want to feel. At their very essence these tiny molecules have the power to enhance our lives.
So, the next time you smell a rose, a pine tree, or the fresh center of an orange, you are having a sensorial conversation with a whole community of natural terpenes, and each one has the ability to affect your overall mood and sense of well-being.