What are Terpenes and why we need them

Terpenes are organic molecules that are commonly found in essential oils.

Essential oils are natural synergies of organic chemical components, sometimes 200 or 300 of them. They are the products of the secondary metabolism of the plants.

Terpenes are important for regeneration and protection of the plants. These substances are used as medicines and are distinguished by very specific pharmacological properties.

Recipes with lemon essential oil

Terpenes can be subdivided into monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

Monoterpenes are the most commonly occurring of the organic molecules that make up essential oils. Limonene and Pinene are the most frequently occurring of all. Monoterpenes are antiseptics, decongestants, analgesics, and anti-inflammatory.

The essential oils that contain Monoterpenes are Black pepper, Bergamot, Cypress, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Juniper Berry, Lemon, Neroli, Sweet orange, Rosemary, Sweet marjoram, Tea tree, Thyme.

Component Limonene can be found in the peel of citruses, it shows antiseptic and antibacterial activities. These activities define the medicinal use of limonene. It is also having uplifting qualities due to its very fresh citrus scent.

Limonene activates white blood cells, shows analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-obesity, antioxidant, antitumoral, antiulcerogenic, immunostimulant, skin penetration enhancer qualities.

Essential oils containing limonene are citrus oils, such as Bergamot, Lemon, Neroli, Sweet orange, and Fennel and Black Pepper.

As Limonene is warming to the skin it can be skin sensitising especially when used before going outside.

Pinene shows anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral properties, prevents bone loss. Pinene can be found in the essential oils of Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Pine, Rosemary.

Sesquiterpenes are aromatic molecules which are characterised as soothing, calming and anti-inflammatory. Sesquiterpenes show anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, analgesic, antispasmodic qualities. The essential oils containing Sesquiterpenes are Black pepper, Cedarwood, German chamomile, Ginger, Helichrysum, Myrrh, Patchouli, Spikenard, Vetiver, Ylang-ylang.

Caryophyllene is the most common of the Sesquiterpenes. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral, analgesic, antispasmodic, antiviral, immunostimulant. Caryophyllene can be found in Lavender, Marjoram, Clary Sage. Sesquiterpenes are also skin soothing and used in skin care products.


Terpenes are organic compounds produced by many plants, especially conifers. They occur naturally in essential oils extracted from the aromatic plants. Speaking in chemical terms, Terpenes are a combination of hydrogen and carbon.

Terpenes, their composition, participate in creating the characteristic scent of essential oils.

Terpenes work as a natural defence against pathogens, preventing infections and therefore protecting health.

If you have any other questions as to what are terpenes pop the question in the comment box below and we’ll try to answer.

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