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The latest market research on CBD has estimated that CBD sales in the U.S. are likely to exceed $20 billion by 2024. The research, which was conducted by leading cannabis researchers BDS Analytics, also predicted that the overall cannabinoid market could be worth $45 billion in the next 5 years. Another market forecast from the New-York based firm Cowen & Co has published slightly more conservative numbers, projecting that the CBD market could be worth $15 billion by 2025.
While this number may not be set in stone, one thing is definite: Despite the legal grey area around CBD regulation, consumer interest in the potential for hemp and cannabis-based products only seems to grow. As consumer knowledge around cannabinoids and CBD grows, people are now turning their attention to the potential benefits of terpenes.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the aromatic botanical oils that give plants their distinctive scent. While you most often hear about terpenes in relation to cannabis strains, terpenes are found in all plant matter – not just hemp and cannabis. As well as giving plants their distinctive scent profile, terpenes also work to repel certain insects while attracting others to help them pollinate more successfully.
Out of the 20,000 known terpenes found in the plant kingdom, around 200 of them appear in plants from the cannabis family. Some of the most well-known terpenes include limonene (also found in citrus fruits), Linalool (abundant in lavender) and beta-caryophyllene (found in oregano and black pepper).
While certain terpenes are found more predominantly in certain cannabis strains (for example, limonene appears more potently in Sativa strains than Indica), the terpene profile of hemp is also determined by factors like climate, fertilizer, soil, and the age of the plant.
What do terpenes do?
While we already know that CBD binds to our brain’s cannabinoid receptors to produce a variety of effects, recent research indicates that terpenes play a crucial role in determining how cannabinoids actually work in our bodies.
Terpenes work in conjunction with the entourage effect, to control how CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system through the blood-brain barrier. This indicates that terpenes have potential for therapeutic use in their own right, such as myrcene – which has been shown to have analgesic effects. Linalool has also been found to show antidepressant-like activity.
This research indicates that while two CBD products may have similar percentages of cannabidiol, they may produce completely different results depending on what terpenes are most prominent.
Hitting the Mainstream
While talk of terpenes has largely been confined to the niche worlds of scientific journals and the cannabis community, these plant oils were recently projected into the mainstream conversation after Kim Kardashian hosted a CBD-themed baby shower for the arrival of her 4th child, Psalm West.
Among other CBD treats, guests were greeted with terpene-infused teas from True Terpenes, who also create self-care products made with terpenes like candles, chocolates and skin lotions.
Terpenes have also become a popular trend among innovative cocktail bars in the U.S. like Prank bar, who have used terpenes for their aromatic qualities to devise new and exciting cocktails. In London, speciality beer bar Indiebeer are selling customers the High Flyer from Green Times Brewing, which blends terpenes and organic hops for a unique flavour profile.
The therapeutic benefits of terpenes are also likely to gain some attention during tomorrow’s FDA hearing on the regulation of CBD and cannabis products. In fact, the Chief Science Officer of True Terpenes will be testifying at the hearing to educate FDA officials on how hemp-derived terpenes can safely be used in food items and how to manufacture products to ensure public safety. The outcome from tomorrow’s FDA hearing is likely to have at least some influence on how CBD regulation proceeds across Europe and the UK, which remain in murky territory.