Makes Scents: How Terpenes Affect Your Health

Learn more about the benefits of inhaling terpenes and how they can affect your emotional well-being.

Walks in nature, smelling fresh flowers, or enjoying a dish rich with aromatic herbs are all simple activities that have the ability to bring a sense of happy calmness to your days – and it turns out that there’s a scientific reason for that.

Terpenes, like limonene, myrcene, pinene and others are the fragrant molecules that give plants, flowers, and trees their wide range of scents; if you’ve ever breathed in the heady smell of pine trees, the crisp scent of citrus, or the sweet aroma of lavender, then you’ve experienced the work of terpenes.

“The fragrant molecules are basically oils that release a therapeutic scent,” Josh Kaplan, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington explained. “The scent is greater when the terpenes are combusted because they become aerosolized at high temperatures, but they also release a scent in their natural state.”

Inhaling the scent of terpenes has long been associated with having a positive impact on emotional well-being, which is why aromatherapy is a popular remedy for a variety of issues. For instance, lavender contains the terpene linalool, which is responsible for its perfumed, floral scent and has a calming effect. Citrus has a terpene called limonene, which elevates mood. Pinene is found in pine and sage and helps with energy and focus.

The long-standing hypothesis is that people benefit from terpenes due to the connection between our sense of smell and emotional centers in the brain, however, research indicates that terpenes have a direct impact on the brain by modulating the activity of brain cells. Recent research in this space includes:

  •  A 2017 study from the Department of Biological Sciences of Konkuk University in Korea noted the effects of “forest bathing” – a Japanese practice of spending time in nature for therapeutic purposes. Their research concluded that terpenes contributed to anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, or neuroprotective effects and had a beneficial impact on human health. Spending time in a terpene-rich environment of trees is more than just a nice way to spend an afternoon; it actually has verifiable medicinal benefits.
  • Research from Chongqing Medical University in China studied the effects of a terpene found in oregano, black pepper, basil, and cannabis and noted that its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and pain-relieving properties may mitigate brain inflammation in a way that could have a positive impact on Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Studies are also underway to further understand the connection between terpenes and the effects of medical marijuana. Terpenes are often used in conjunction with cannabis or CBD and are said to enhance the therapeutic properties of both. The synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids is called the “entourage effect” and various combinations of the two are used to promote pain relief, reduce inflammation, or act as a sleep aid.

Taking a deep breath in a pleasantly aromatic environment feels good, and science shows that it’s good for you. Stop and smell the roses, take a walk in the woods, and familiarize yourself with essential oils that have a positive impact on your health to reap the rewards of the natural remedies offered by terpenes.

Take nature with you no matter where you are with Kinin Wellness Pods. Find your scent, improve your life, and be well.

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