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What are terpenes?

02.02.21 8 min. read

At a glance: What are terpenes ?

  1. What are terpenes?
  2. The importance of terpenes for plants and animals
  3. effect and benefits of terpenes for skin
  4. Other possibilities of terpenes?
  5. How long act terpenes?
  6. Are there any side effects?

    CBD-containing care products currently springing up like mushrooms. But which of them make really beautiful, smooth and clear skin? It is often said that one should pay attention to full or broad-spectrum products. The reason for this is that in the entire range of active ingredients of the hemp plant are included. Just as the terpenes and cannabinoids can be mutually reinforcing way, for example. An extra bonus of effectiveness, so to speak. But what does it exactly with the terpenes about?

    What are terpenes?

    In short, terpenes are responsible for smell and taste of plants - and for one or the other effect on us humans ...

    plants have many charming characteristics: they are equipped with a variety of colors and smells. Some of them taste good and even have a special effect. Not for nothing plants have been used for millennia as tea, spices, food or medicine.

    plants and new treatment options can open that some synthetic chemical products in no way inferior. The good thing about them: They are not only amazingly diverse, but are often well tolerated .

    The terpenes belong to the group of phytochemicals. They are enormously diverse. When you give, for example, an essential oil in your oil burner the terpenes are the what arrives in your nose as smell. But that's not all: They also make other flavors and lipids, hormones, attractants (pheromones), vitamins, skeletons of fungi and sponges, natural rubber u.v.m. [1] .

    Just think of the different types of hemp, how different they smell and look. One looks more reassuring, others stimulating. Hemp can flowery, earthy, fruity, woody, musky, minty, sweet, lemony or even cheesy smell and all because of different terpenes.

    The importance of terpenes in plants and animals

    In plants and animals, there are about 8,000 different terpenes. It is no wonder that they have so many different functions. You'll find them in the oils and resins of plants, in the flowers, leaves and bark. There they help to carry out photosynthesis and ward off predators plants to attract insects.

    We protect people terpenes against bacteria, fungi and harmful environmental factors, making them ideal as an ingredient in cosmetics. It is even believed that they can inhibit the development of cancer. They provide as hormones for communication between cells and help to pass on stimuli in the body. There are even terpenes that can act directly on the endocannabinoid system. In conjunction with CBD can draw, attenuate or amplify the effects of cannabinoids. Terpenes and cannabinoids, according to the theory, influence in their effect each other (Entourage effect) [2].

    terpenes in the hemp plant

    Alone in the hemp there are over 200 different terpenes. They are located mainly in the resin of the female hemp flowers, as well as the cannabinoids. Strictly speaking, are cannabinoids even a special form of terpenes. Has a variety of hemp many terpenes, which also usually an indicator of a high cannabinoid content [6] applies.

    Several varieties of hemp differ mainly regarding odor and effect. This is connected with the fact that each species has a unique composition and concentration of ingredients (as just CBD and terpenes). How and to what extent a variety of hemp acts, depends crucially on their terpene and cannabinoid composition.

    Maybe you've already heard that CBD exerts its action in part to the CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. The terpene caryophyllene can too, but acts on a direct manner to the CB2 receptors, in contrast to the CBD. CBD itself namely does not act directly on the receptors [S16].

    terpenes but can do even more: They also react with other receptors in our body. So the terpene bisabolol example, can inhibit the production of inflammatory mediators by binding directly to inflammatory proteins.

    Here you see the main terpenes in the hemp plant and at a glance. To make the whole more lively, we have listed in parentheses where the terpenes still occur - so perhaps you can watch each smell begin to imagine:

    • ß-caryophyllene (black pepper)
    • eucalyptol (eucalyptus)
    • linalool (lavender)
    • limonene (citrus fruit, especially in the shells)
    • myrcene (ripe mango)
    • nerolidol (orange blossom)
    • pinene (pine resin)
    • γ-terpinene (citrus) [6].

      effect and benefits of terpenes for the skin

      What now has everything to do with cosmetics, you may ask yourself. In fact, terpenes can do a lot for our skin very much. Smaller terpenes can,. B. overcome the skin barrier easily. So they are able easily to penetrate into deeper skin layers. Meanwhile, we know that terpenes:

      • in the control of pathogens (bacteria, fungi and viruses)
      • in the control of inflammation
      • in the reduction of free radicals (anti-aging)
      • against the development and spread of skin cancer
      • can help relieve pain, ulcers and wounds [3]

        The main terpenes in detail

        Have you ever had an aromatherapy enjoyed with essential oils? With a massage or a relaxing fragrance lamp, perhaps? Essential oils are often used in natural medicine to de-stress the body and mind to revitalize calm or. The oils act not only through the senses, but also through mucous membranes and / or skin. This also makes them so popular in cosmetics.

        You do want to know more? Then you look at what all terpenes can:

        terpenes for the immune system and anti-inflammatory

        Inflammation is an immune system response. Here, the vessels widen, so immune cells can fight harmful stimuli. If you ever had an allergy, you know that: the skin becomes red and warm, usually swells also. Many terpenes can adjust this over-reaction of the immune system at least partially and soothe inflammation. This is done in the cosmetic advantage to alleviate chronic skin diseases, reduce pain and soothe blemished, acne-prone skin. Examples of such terpenes are:

        • bisabolol
        • ß-caryophyllene
        • eucalyptol
        • lime
        • linalool
        • myrcene
        • ginkgolide B
        • humulene
        • cineol
        • pinene [2; 4; 5; S1; S2; S3; S5; S7; S8; S10; S11; S14; S17; S19].

          terpenes as an antioxidant

          Free radicals are everywhere in and around us. They come for. B. before in UV light, fine dust and cigarette smoke. The congregation, they can destroy unrestrained cells and cell components. You might know that from people who have tanned often like: Over time, the aggressiveness of free radicals indicates premature aging, pigmentation and at worst skin cancer. The opponents of free radicals are antioxidants. They neutralize the free radicals before they can cause skin damage. Some terpenes can be powerful antioxidants that protect the skin from sunburn and support the regeneration and healing of the skin. These include:

          • bisabolol
          • camphene
          • pinene
          • squalene
          • terpinene

            terpenes against pathogens (bacteria, fungi and viruses) That we can see

            A good many microorganisms around us do not. They want to invade our bodies, but fortunately held through the skin barrier. This creates the skin just not always such. As when dry or is attacked. Then, abscesses, wounds and infections can occur. Many terpenes can but fight well and heal wounds microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi). Therefore, they are u. A. also popularly used as preservatives. These include:

            • bisabolol
            • carvacrol
            • cineol
            • thymol
            • humulene
            • Limonoids
            • myrcene
            • pinene
            • squalene [2; 4; 5; S4; S9; S14; S17; S19; S20].

              terpenes against cancer

              In cancer, cells multiply uncontrollably. an error in the genetic information is responsible for frequent. Terpenes are but be so potent that they can even block the emergence and spread of skin tumors. This is for. As in the case of:

              • lime
              • Limonoids
              • squalene
              • carvone [S6].

                In animal studies, the terpenes have been able to regress existing tumors. How exactly this happens, we do not know yet for sure. they are likely to kill the cells but not directly on how the z. B. makes chemotherapy. The researchers suggest that they tend to suppress the activation of cancer genes and the self-destruction of cancer cells trigger [2; 4; 5; 6].

                terpenes for circulation

                The skin needs a good blood circulation so that it is supplied with oxygen and nutrients and pollutants well get rid of is - in short, so that it can regenerate. She needs energy from the metabolism so that they can build up and renew. Forskolin is a terpene, that the blood flow to the skin and can improve the energy production in the cells [5]. The result? Your skin looks fresher, plumper and younger.

                terpenes for soothing and Sebumkontrolle

                If you are affected by acne or were, you know that certain: the skin is oily and there are always unsightly pimples. The reason is that the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum and clog pores. Come even bacteria to develop inflammation and eventually pimples. Many terpenes have an antibacterial effect, so that inflammation have no chance. such a calming effect on the skin. B.

                • camphene
                • Linalylacetat.

                  Other possible applications of the terpenes

                  These are just a few of endless examples in which the terpenes do really good work. And that goes for the body, the mind and the psyche. Therefore, you will find them also particularly in naturopathy and holistic cosmetics.

                  Some terpenes help other substances easily penetrate into the deeper layers of skin. increase bisabolol and limonene as the capacity of the skin. The nice thing: terpenes can also be used as solvents and preservatives and do with synthetic chemical means unnecessary. Limonene, for example, oils and fats such as oil in a short time and very effectively dissolve [6; 7].

                  How long act terpenes?

                  terpenes are very volatile. How long they act on the skin, but you can not give a general answer. That depends u. A. less:

                  • how sensitive your skin on terpenes react
                  • from which plant they come
                  • how high they are dosed
                  • how high quality your product is
                  • which symptom you want to fight
                  • which ingredients were combined terpenes.

                    In the form of creams or ointments it takes a while before the effect sets more than one hour in general. But then the effect lasts for several hours. The effect of terpenes can be more severe when they are combined with other plant substances. Cannabinoids and terpenes cooperate, for example, synergistic (entourage effect). This means that both substances together have a greater effect than the sum of the two individual fabric effects. These small amounts of cannabinoid are sufficient.

                    Are there any side effects?

                    Yes! at least at higher concentrations and for sensitive skin, irritation and allergies, the terpenes can cause. This is especially true for citral, geraniol, limonene, and several others. you wear them on to the skin, they can cause skin irritation, itching and redness. So if you're unsure, ask your dermatologist rather for a allergy test.


                    [1] bioprocess for the enzymatic preparation of (-) -Patchoulol and structurally related products

                    [2] Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects

                    [3] Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater than the Sum of Their parts

                    [4] Terpenes

                    [5] terpenes: parent class of bioactive substances

                    [6] Cannabis: From Cultivar to chemovar II-A metabolomics approach to cannabis Classification code

                    [7] Use the Right Citrus-Based Cleaning Products to Avoid Corrosion or Rust < / a>

                    Further studies:

                    Piccioli, Giacomo et. al., β-caryophyllene Reduces the Inflammatory Phenotype of Periodontal Cells by targeting CB2 Receptors

                    Fine, Gerry P. and Rosenfeld , Mark J., The cannabinoid receptor, cannabinoid, and Pain

                    Rogerio, Alexandre P. et al, Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene alpha Humulene in experimental allergic airways inflammation

                    Jang Hye-in et. al., Antibacterial and anti-biofilm effects of α-Humulene against Bacteroides fragilis

                    Yazgan, Hatice et al, Antimicrobial influence of nanoemulsified lemon essential oil and pure lemon essential oil on food-borne pathogens and fish spoilage bacteria

                    Ajikumaran, Nair S. et al, Citrus peels prevent cancer

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