Although terpenes have been used for centuries, they aren’t really in the spotlight for most. In fact, many people have the wrong perception of what they are as well as their place in our everyday lives.
Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds that are present all around us. They’re responsible for so many wonderful scents that we attribute to food, plants, perfume, and cosmetics. The list goes on.
This infographic will uncover the truth behind some of the most common perceptions about these aromatic compounds because the more you know, the better your judgement will be.
The Myths and Facts Behind Terpenes
Terpene consumption can have various benefits (TRUE)
A number of studies have found that several types of terpenes have antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. In one experiment, it was observed that oxygenated monoterpenes demonstrated strong antibacterial activity against all tested bacteria, especially Gram-negative bacteria. In another test, terpenes have been shown to possess the active ingredients used to cure skin infections.
Meanwhile, a separate study suggests that terpenes may be used to treat diseases caused by resistant microorganisms such as Methicillin-resistant S. aureus due to their antimicrobial activity.
While these results provide evidence of terpenes’ positive effects, more studies need to be done to fully understand them.
Terpenes are illegal (FALSE)
Terpenes are used in all sorts of legal applications. Manufacturers use isolated terpenes to create the flavors and scents of various products, such as colognes and lotions. For instance, terpenes are added to creams to restore the skin’s strength and thickness. They’re also mixed with perfumes because of their olfactory properties that enable certain fragrances to be produced.
Companies also blend terpenes with beverages, tinctures, and foods to enhance their flavor and effects. Parsley, rosemary, and basil – which are some of the plant sources of terpenes – are widely used as culinary condiments.
Terpenes contribute to the “Entourage Effect” (TRUE)
The “entourage effect” refers to the magnified therapeutic benefits of combining various chemical compounds from whole-plant extractions. The concept is that when taken together, the substances will produce a more potent effect than when consumed alone.
Research suggests that the entourage effect can increase the medicinal potentials of psychoactive compounds. This therapeutic property of terpenes arises from their ability to link with naturally occurring molecule receptors in the brain. However, scientists note that more studies are necessary to strengthen this finding.
Terpenes are not safe (FALSE)
Various types of terpenes have been recognized as safe for consumption. Most terpenes have been commonly ingested in their original form – as natural components of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and essential oils – for thousands of years, offering powerful medical benefits at safely diluted concentrations. But, as with other compounds, they can be toxic when consumed at high levels.
It is important to note that some terpenes are more ideal for inhalation than others. Certain types can be cause irritation when ingested, while others may provide amplified medical benefits and are better metabolized by the body when taken in. This is due to terpenes’ varying levels of stability and chemical make-up.
Terpenes promote better sleep (TRUE)
Research has shown that terpenes have natural sedative and hypnotic effects. They work by quieting brain activity, thus inducing relaxation and drowsiness. Some terpenes also possess anxiety-reducing properties, helping ease tension and thereby activating the sleep hormones.
Moreover, the anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities exhibited by certain terpenes have been shown to promote sleep. One study that employed mice models found that terpene ingestion eased the swelling in their paws. It also helped block the detection of painful and injurious stimuli by the rats’ sensory neurons, stimulating longer sleep.
While these findings present promising benefits, experts note that further studies are needed to validate them.
Terpenes are just essential oils (FALSE)
Terpenes have been used in aromatherapy for centuries to promote relaxation and relieve stress. But they’re more than just essential oils. Beyond their scents and flavor, they possess a range of medicinal properties that make them crucial for the treatment of certain diseases.
For instance, sesquiterpenes can be used to treat malaria, bacterial infections, and migraine. Meanwhile, diterpenes are known to help alleviate heart-related conditions. Other types of these volatile compounds are used as remedies for certain conditions, including burns, infections, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.
Terpenes support memory (TRUE)
Multiple studies suggest that terpenes may help improve memory because of their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. One study has found that limonene, a monoterpene, tends to restrain hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity, thus enhancing focus. Another experiment has noted that limonene exhibits brain-protecting activity, making it a possible therapeutic reagent for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Meanwhile, beta-Caryophyllene, a sesquiterpene, has been shown to help improve cognition by reducing neuroinflammation and boosting antioxidants in the body. This compound stabilizes glutathione levels and activates a special pathway called NRF2, thereby protecting against fatigue.
These findings underscore terpenes’ potential to improve memory and cognition. However, researchers recommend that extensive clinical trials be carried out to further validate them.
Terpenes can help relieve anxiety (TRUE)
In a involving mice models, it was observed that alpha-pinene injection lowered their anxiety levels. It also helped suppress the brain abnormalities present in the rats, suggesting that this terpene can potentially treat schizophrenia in humans.
Meanwhile, limonene, a type of terpene derived from citrus oil, has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. Beta-Caryophyllene, a sesquiterpene, also exhibits analgesic properties, making it a potential agent for treating depression. Furthermore, linalool, a monoterpene, is known to display sedative and anticonvulsant properties that stimulate calming effects.
The Truth About Terpenes
Terpenes have been used for thousands of years because of their medicinal and therapeutic properties. People have also found ways to incorporate these aromatic compounds into tinctures, beverages, foods, and body products.
The reality is that terpenes are here to stay. And that’s a good thing!
We hope that we’ve inspired you to learn more about the truth surrounding terpenes and the part they play in our everyday lives. Be sure to check out our other blog posts to get started.