As a terpene biochemist highly active in the field of olfactory research since the late 90’s, I have long wondered why the world did not take “scent” more seriously. After all, your sense of smell is the second most complex system in the body, residing only behind the immune system. Surely, if our wiring is so complex for scent it must be far more important to us as a species than we are thinking.

Back when I first got involved in olfaction research, I recognized the role that terpenes could exert on creating behavior change and on improving the health and lifestyle of people. But no one wanted to take scent seriously. Anyone talking about the power of scent was considered “kooky” back then. I thought things might change in 2004 when the Nobel Prize was awarded to Axel and Buck for their olfaction research, but no, scent was still considered very fringe in modern life. Around 2003, I decided to give some legitimacy to scent based products and manufactured the first true terpene-based consumer product Sprinkle Thin which later became Sensa®.  Given the fact that Sensa® became the world’s best-selling weight loss supplement gaining multi-billions of sales in its lifetime, you’d think that would have created a deep interest in scent. Didn’t happen; not even a curiosity. In fact, to sell the product the message was telling people to “shake, shake, shake” it onto their food. Everyone assumed it was a digestive product like other nutritional supplements. Again, the importance of scent and terpenes was lost in the marketing wind. More than a decade passed and then as cannabis began to get more and more into the mainstream news, young people began talking about terpenes. The reason for this was simple – it was the terpenes present in marijuana that differentiated one strain from the next. Huge international competitions like the Cannabis Cup, promoted terpenes better than anything. Fast forward to today where the true power and value in terpenes is beginning to become known. Finally! But the fact remains, terpenes are far more important than most any aspect of cannabis. Terpenes deserve a birthright of their own!

Let’s look more closely at these fascinating compounds called terpenes. Let me simply explain what they are. You’ve heard of a plant essential oil, I am sure. Imagine taking a rose and pressing one of the petals until it produced an oil like substance that smelled very much like a concentrated rose aroma. That plant essential oil is composed of groups of much smaller compounds called volatile aromatic terpenes and phenylpropanoids. In nature, existing freely in all plants (and some insects), these compounds can easily cross cellular membranes and serve a wide variety of ecological purposes such as either attracting or repelling insects and discouraging even larger predators from harming the plant. Pretty powerful for the plant, right, but what does that have to do for a human?

To answer that, let’s look at one of my favorite terpenes, (E)-β-caryophyllene [(E)-BCP]. Let’s just shorten this to the term beta-caryophyllene. While beta-caryophyllene is found in abundance in all cannabis plants, it is also quite a common terpene in nature and is found in large amounts in many different spices and food plants, such as broccoli, oregano, cinnamon, and black pepper. It has a weak smell and taste, so it is often used commercially as a food additive and in cosmetics.

The deeper, real story of beta-caryophyllene is far more fascinating in that it triggers various biological targets in a true olfactory sense; but is also a powerful “digestive” terpene which is something that is quite rare. The studies on the role that beta-caryophyllene has on the body are wide ranging but the most telling studies show that it selectively binds to receptor sites in the endocannabinoid system leading to cellular activation and anti-inflammatory effects. I suggest you do your own research on this amazing olfactory and dietary terpene and all its varied positive health producing effects in the body and you will be convinced that you MUST take a cannabis oil that not only all its natural beta-caryophyllene intact.