Have you ever wondered why animals are drawn to certain plants, or why they like to eat grass? Well, it may be the terpenes.
By now, you may know that hemp is a part of the cannabaceae family (Cannabis sativa). You may also know that more than 100 phytocannabinoids, including the two most popular ones — CBD and THC, have been identified in hemp. But what you may not know is that terpenes help make up the biological profile of the hemp plant. They also enhance the therapeutic effects of phytocannabinoids like CBD.
Still, confusion surrounds these little molecules. What are terpenes? Is there a difference between hemp terpenes and marijuana terpenes? And finally, can our four legged friends benefit from the terpenes in CBD oil? The answer to these questions may surprise you.
What are Terpenes?
By definition, terpenes are volatile molecules responsible for the distinctive odor, flavors, and colors of the different strains found in cannabis. These little molecules act as a natural repellent against pests, help attract pollinators, and protect the plant from extreme temperatures and other environmental stressors.
Terpenes are produced from the resin within the trichomes of the cannabis plant, which is the same place where phytocannabinoids are found. Interestingly enough, you can find several of the same terpenes you find in hemp, in other everyday plants, herbs, flowers, and fruits. That’s why you may find your pets so drawn to certain plants: it’s the terpenes.
So does this mean that different terpenes are found in hemp-derived CBD vs. marijuana?
Hemp-Derived CBD Terpenes Vs. Marijuana Terpenes
Determining the ratios and amounts of different phytocannabinoids in hemp and marijuana is slightly more predictable than determining their terpenoid content. The terpene composition varies greatly and is usually established through the genetics of the plant, cultivation and harvesting of the plant, and the environment in which the plant is grown. So yes, there is a difference between CBD terpenes and marijuana terpenes, but it usually boils down to genetic strains.
Additionally, temperature and extraction play huge roles in the terpenoid content. According to The Medical Cannabis Awareness Association (MCAA), terpenes that are the most volatile will begin evaporating at temperatures as low as 70 degrees. Other, less volatile, terpenes will evaporate at higher temperatures. This may explain why cannabis smells the most pungent first thing in the morning. It also explains why the terpenes in hemp-derived CBD oils vs marijuana considerably vary. This leads us to the question:
Do Terpenes Get My Pet High?
While we know that hemp and marijuana both belong to the cannabis family, their biological profiles are very different. Hemp is known for an abundance of CBD, and marijuana is known for the psychoactive THC. Unlike certain phytocannabinoids, terpenes are not psychoactive. This means pet owners can safely administer terpene rich hemp oil to their pet, without fear or concern.
So what are the terpenes in CBD oil and how do they affect our pets?
What Are the Terpenes in CBD Oil?
While we know that temperature highly affects the terpenoid content of CBD oils, there are a few terpenes that appear more abundant than others, and always seem to show up in terpene rich hemp oils.
The most abundant terpenes in CBD oil include:
Before we breakdown each of these terpenes and list their benefits, let’s first discuss how terpenes affect our pets.
Amazingly, terpenes found in CBD and terpene rich hemp oils stimulate receptor cell signaling in mammals. They also help enhance the therapeutic properties of CBD, which help contribute to the entourage effect –– when all phytochemicals of the hemp plant work synergistically in the body.
In addition, certain terpenes contain analgesic properties as well as other therapeutic properties. Because our pets also have an Endocannabinoid System, they can benefit from the same therapeutic properties of terpenes as humans do.
Now let’s look at the most common terpenes you’re most likely to find in CBD oil and their potential benefits for our pets.
How Do Terpenes Benefit My Pet?
Myrcene is a common terpene found in cannabis, and it can be found in other plants like wild thyme, hops, lemongrass, basil, and even mango. Myrcene has a musky-like scent, and it gives cannabis an earthy yet spicy, clove-like aroma. Historically, humans have used plants and mangos rich in myrcene to relieve pain. In one study, scientists noted that myrcene holds antinociception properties (reduces the sensation of pain) when administered to mice.
Limonene is one of the most common terpenes found in nature. If your pets’ CBD oil has ever had a lemony or orangey citrus flavor, it’s most likely due to limonene. Because limonene puts off such a strong scent, it’s considered one of the best terpenes to use as a pest repellent. For example, citronella candles that ward off mosquitoes are made with limonene. Fortunately, limonene is packed with therapeutic benefits for our companions. In one study, researchers found that limonene from citrus oils helped reduce anxiety in mice. Other studies suggest that limonene holds powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Pinene is commonly found in the resin of pine trees and cannabis. When we think of pine, most of us refer to cleaning products. Why? Because pinene contains antimicrobial properties, which kill and inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Like limonene, pinene is packed with an array of therapeutic benefits, some of which include: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiallergic, gastroprotective, and analgesic properties (pain relief).
Linalool has similar therapeutic traits as myrcene, but they’re just not as potent. That said, linalool gives off a clean, fresh floral scent, with hints of citrus aroma. For a long time, lavender has been known for its mood enhancing and anxiety reducing effects in animals. The reason for this is because lavender contains linalool. Linalool has also been studied by scientists for its anti-inflammatory properties.
B-caryophyllene is the terpene that has the most pharmacological potential. Scientists often refer to B-caryophyllene as the “dietary cannabinoid”, because it can be found in black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, and of course, cannabis. What makes it so unique amongst other terpenes is that it actually activates the CB2 receptor cells in the body. In one study, researchers found that B-caryophyllene was able to reduce inflammation in immune cells. In addition, B-caryophyllene contains antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Most of this research has been done on animal models showcasing just how therapeutic B-caryophyllene can be for our four legged friends.
Are Terpenes Safe for My Pet?
While we know that terpenes are in no way a cure-all for the unwanted symptoms and ailments our pets experience at times, they are packed with therapeutic benefits. Terpenes occur in our everyday plants, fruits, and even spices, deeming them completely safe for our pets to consume.
Terpene-Rich Hemp Oils for Dogs and Cats
As with any new supplement, moderation is key. CBD and terpene rich full spectrum hemp oils hold a lot of therapeutic value, but each animal will respond differently. It’s important to take things slowly, introduce new supplements in low dosages, and always be observant to how your pet responds to a new terpene rich hemp oil. Finally, it’s important to always inform your veterinarian when introducing a new supplement to your pet’s regimen, especially if your pet is currently on any medications.