Terpenes 101: The Basics

Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons, which to put it succinctly,  are the building blocks of essential oils. They  can be found in most all species of flora throughout the plant kingdom, and are primarily responsible for the diversity of both aroma & flavor. The distinctive scent of mint, lavender, hops, and all plants, is mainly due to the unique the combinations of terpenes found within.  Simple chemical compounds, terpenes are also produced by plants to help defend themselves against threats and to attract beneficial species.

Recognized as safe by the FDA (GRAS), terpenes are found in many of the fruits, herbs, vegetable & plants, that we eat or are around everyday. There are over 20,000+ terpenes that have been identified in nature.  

Not only do terpenes effect the scent & taste of our favorite foods, but these compounds also offer some notable benefits of their own. Some of which you might already know, but not realize they were due to the terpenes! Ever smelled lavender and found is calming?  It has a high concentration of Linalool, which helps with insomnia and acts as a sedative.  The Myrcene found in hops certainly contributes to the relaxing effect a pint of your favorite IPA might have. Other terpenes have been found to have benefits ranging from Anti-inflammation, Appetite supression, Anti-Microbial, Cell regeneration, Analgesic/Pain relief, and more. 

Throughout history terpenes have provided medical relief for a variety of human conditions.  The're part of the reason why the plants & herbs used in wholistic health & Chinese medicine have been around and effective for  thousands of years.