Ok, terpenes aren’t really that new. People have been benefiting from terpenes for as long as they have cannabis. But as CBD products become increasingly popular, awareness of terpenes is also growing.
To understand why terpenes are important in CBD chemistry, we first have to understand what terpenes are.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds present in all plants. The terpene profile of a plant will determine how it smells. For example, terpenes give oranges their citrus smell and give lavender it’s popular aroma.
Terpenes may be evolutionary developments that deter predators i.e. they don’t taste or smell good. Or plants use terpenes to attract pollinating insects.
The words terpenes and terpenoids are often interchanged although they are differences between them:
- Terpenes are hydrocarbons (consist only of carbon and hydrogen atoms)
- Terpenoids are terpenes that have somehow been denatured, often by oxidisation.
Terpenes are not cannabinoids and there is a common misconception that therefore they don't interact with the body's endocannabinoid system. However, some research now shows that terpenes can enhance the interaction between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system through a process known as the entourage effect.
Are terpenes the same as essential oils?
Not quite... Essential oils are, essentially, a mix of terpenes and other compounds like flavonoids. Essential oils have distinct odours and properties because of their unique mix of compounds including terpenes.
So, terpenes influence the benefits of essential oils. For example:
Myrcene has an earthy, musky smell that produces a relaxing effect. Therapeutically, it has value in the treatment of insomnia. Myrcene is also present in mangoes, lemongrass and thyme.
Limonene has a citrusy smell and has potential medical value in alleviating anxiety and depression plus in the treatment of pain and cancer. It has a stress relief effect and is also found in rosemary and peppermint.
Unsurprisingly, a-pinene smells like pine trees and may improve alertness and memory retention. Promisingly, a-pinene also has potential value in the treatment of asthma and ulcers. You can find a-pinene in pine needles, basil and dill.
Linalool produces the lavender's relaxing, floral aroma. Like lavender, it has potential medical value in the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Linalool is also an anti-inflammatory and may be effective in the treatment of neurodegeneration.
This terpene has a sweet, woody aroma and has valuable anti-pathogen properties that often associated with essential oils. Ocimene is as an antiviral, an antifungal, an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent. Ocimene is also in kumquats, mint and basil.
How can terpene analysis benefit your CBD product?
Terpene profiles of cannabis or hemp can affect the product experience for CBD consumers.
- Bad - Terpenes may impact the flavour of edible or orally administered CBD products, such as a gummy or CBD oil. No wants chocolate that tastes of pine forests.
- Good - For consumers of products such as vape e-liquids the terpenes can improve or add to their sensory experience.
Knowing if a CBD oil does or does not contain terpenes could influence your purchasing decisions as both a manufacturer and as a consumer.
There is also another effect of terpenes known as ‘the entourage’ effect.
There is a synergistic relationship between terpenes and cannabinoids which can affect the potency of CBD (and other cannabinoids) without increasing a dose.
A study by neurologist Ethan Russo published in the British Journal of Pharmacology describes ‘the entourage’ effect. Differing mixes of cannabinoids and terpenes can change to the therapeutic effect of cannabis-based medicines.
So, this means the cannabinoid/terpene mix of your CBD product may improve the results for consumers who choose to take them therapeutically. Submitting your CBD oil or product for terpene analysis may help you make business savvy decisions regarding it's most profitable uses.
However, terpenes will not be present in CBD products made from CBD isolates (unless they have been added back in). The purification process will remove terpenes and other compounds.
Full-spectrum hemp oil will still contain the original mix of cannabidiol, terpenes and other organics.
Terpene analysis from PhytoVista Laboratories
Terpenes are more volatile than cannabinoids as they have much lower vapourisation points. This volatile nature makes terpenes well suited for gas chromatography methods of analysis. Our state-of-the-art facilities in Frome, in Somerset, offers full-validated gas chromatography equipment that offers analysis of 21 terpenes.
Get a quote for your product’s terpene analysis with PhytoVista Laboratories today.