Essential oils have been used for centuries: they are even mentioned on papyrus from ancient Egypt (4500 BC). But do you really know what’s in them, and how we get them? Have you ever heard of hemp essential oil? How about terpenes?
Let’s get to grips with this plant elixir…
An essential oil is a concentrated substance containing volatile aroma compounds from a plant. Despite its name, it contains no oil, because it is composed solely of volatile molecules.
We get our essential oil using the steam distillation method. This technique has not changed much over the millennia: it involves passing water vapour through the selected part of the plant, taking the aromatic plant molecules with it. This gives us a mixture of water vapour and various biochemical components. This mixture is then condensed: it is cooled to allow the separation of the water and the essential oil, because these two fractions cannot be mixed in the liquid state (they are what we call “immiscible”).Because it has a lower density than water, the essential oil ends up at the surface, allowing it to be collected. The remaining water is called a hydrolat or floral water.
It takes around a tonne of hemp, produced in France, to obtain a litre of our essential oil. This explains its rarity and market price, comparable to that of rose or everlasting essential oil.
Our hemp essential oil is made up of over 200 compounds, some of which are recognised in aromatherapy as having very interesting biochemical properties.
Cannabinoids are not soluble in water, so our essential oil contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive molecule in cannabis. However, it contains lots of terpenes. These terpenes are non-psychoactive organic components that give plants their characteristic scents. In the plant Cannabis Sativa L., they provide natural protection against bacteria, fungi, insects and the various environmental stresses that the plant may encounter.
Terpenes are not only present in cannabis. They are also found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Scientists have identified around 20,000 different terpenes in the plant world! Significant concentrations of over 120 different terpenes have been found in cannabis.
The main terpenes found in our hemp essential oil are β-myrcene, trans-β-ocimene, β-caryophyllene, terpinolene and β-pinenes.
It’s time for a little look at these compounds:
β-myrcene is the main terpene in cannabis. It is responsible for the characteristic scent of the plant, with its earthy, musky and spicy notes.
It is reputed for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. According to studies, it also has a relaxing, tranquillising and sedative effect.
Photo credit: RoyalQueenSeeds
Ocimene is a terpene also found in basil, mangoes and mint. It has a herby, woody aroma, and anti-inflammatory potential.
Β-caryophyllene is a terpene with an exceptional chemical structure for a natural compound. It is a sesquiterpene, which can specifically activate receptors (CB2) in the endocannabinoid system (a system of cellular receptors and molecules in our body). In this way, it is similar to cannabinoids like THC. It also has anti-inflammatory, calming and anti-pain action.
Photo credit : RoyalQueenSeeds
Terpinolene is partly responsible for the plant’s sometimes woody, pine or lemony fragrance. It is found in tea tree, conifers, rosemary and lilacs. According to initial studies on this compound, it has antioxidant, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Pinenes have a characteristic scent of pine and conifer. They are quite common in nature, and function as anti-inflammatories and bronchodilators.
Obviously, this information is not exhaustive: it is almost impossible to summarise all of the studies and all of the properties attributed to the molecules in a single page, especially as detailed studies of these compounds are still relatively recent.
Now that we know what terpenes are, and the main terpenes found in our Flower Power, what conclusions can we make about using our essential oil?
Due to the properties of β-myrcene and Β-caryophyllene, it can be helpful to massage our essential oil into affected areas (muscles, joints, lower belly, etc.). Remember that the essential oil should always be diluted in plant oil before application.
Used in a diffuser or with massage oil, it provides a general sensation of relaxation, to help you combat everyday stress.
To boost general relaxation of the body and mind, you can also apply one drop of essential oil diluted in plant oil to your wrists, and rub them together gently before breathing in this fragrant mixture.
Essential oils work very well in synergy, and it can be a good idea to combine them to enhance their effects and increase their benefits. So let’s explore some possible mixes using Flower Power.
The following ideas are just our observations and conclusions. It’s up to you to find your preferred combination, depending on the effect you’re looking for!
Hemp essential oil can be diffused with citrus essential oils such as lemon, citronella or bergamot. Relaxation guaranteed!
You can also add a few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oil, for even better relaxation. For a more cosy, meditative moment, consider combining it with frankincense or vetiver essential oil.
Bonus: mix it with rose essential oil for an enchanting scent you’re sure to love.
Now it’s over to you: harness Flower Power and explore its many uses for a stress-free life!
For the scientists among you, here are the studies that allow us to define the properties of our terpenes: