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Cannabinoids & Terpenes 101: Hemp’s Major Components

Cannabidiol’s structure is highly complex, filled with numerous chemical compounds. In fact, hemp produces over 120 cannabinoids and more than 200 terpenes and flavonoids.

Cannabinoids nourish and interact with the endocannabinoid system, the body’s “master regulator”. Terpenes make up the aroma of a plant, while antioxidant-rich flavonoids are responsible for their colors.

Let’s explore some basic facts about the cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp.


Cannabinoids are found in animals, humans and in many plants, including hemp and echinacea. These compounds are what activate the cannabinoid receptors on cells in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The two most well-known cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In this article, we’ll focus on CBD. (THC is a psychoactive compound that is only present in industrial hemp at extremely low levels–0.3% content or less.)

CBD provides superior nutritional support to the body, and it’s the most commonly-occurring cannabinoid. When CBD is sourced from industrial hemp, it doesn’t produce a “high”, and it does not create psychoactive effects in the body.

Hemp-sourced CBD:

  • Safe for topical use, ingestion, and sublingual delivery
  • Non-psychoactive and non-addictive
  • Adaptogenic
  • Encourages homeostasis, or balance, in the ECS

The United States Department of Health and Human Services holds patent 6,630,507, which states:

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties […] Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids.”

Although we have learned much about CBD since the discovery of the ECS, further scientific research is needed.


Terpenes are phytochemicals that give plants their taste and smell–in other words, they’re the essential oils of the plant. If you’ve ever stopped to notice and enjoy the scent of a specific plant or tree, that’s the terpenes at work.

A few examples of terpenes include:

  • Myrcene, the most common terpene found in hemp. It smells like clove and tends to have relaxing properties.
  • Terpineol, a terpene that smells like sweet lime blossom.
  • Linalool, which smells very similar to flowers blooming in the spring and tends to inspire a sense of calm and relaxation.

Cannabinoids & Terpenes in the Entourage Effect

Terpenes are a crucial component of the entourage effect, which refers to the interaction between various terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids in the plant.

This interplay between these types of chemical molecules, and the way they combine and lock onto various endocannabinoid receptors in the body, determine the consumer’s unique cannabinoid experience.

The entourage effect demonstrates why cannabinoids and terpenes are much more powerful together than they are when isolated. This is one of the reasons why, when choosing a hemp product, you should pick a full-spectrum CBD where all the cannabinoids produced in the hemp plant have been preserved.

Consuming full-spectrum CBD is the optimal way to support the body’s endocannabinoid system. Look for organic, full-spectrum hemp CBD oil–with easy-to-access Certificates of Analysis–that’s extracted through a clean process, like supercritical CO2 extraction, for maximum purity and potency.

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