Whether they’re homemade or bought at a dispensary, we’re all looking to get the most out of cannabis concentrates in terms of therapeutic potential. While this is simpler with broad- or full-spectrum products, it can become a little more complicated when hand selecting higher potency options.
Take CBD isolates, crumbles, shatter or budder, for instance; while their potency is significantly higher, the tradeoff is the lack of synergy and flavour when dabbing or vaping them. One solution to this problem is the addition of terpenes to cannabis concentrates.
What are terpenes, and how do they work?
Terpenes are organic compounds that produce the flavor and smell of fruits, flowers, herbs and spices. They also have therapeutic properties; cannabis can be used to treat pain or anxiety by smoking or ingesting a tincture with specific terpenes found in cannabis for relief from certain symptoms.
In places where medical marijuana is legal, patients are prescribed specific strains of marijuana as an alternative treatment for cancer because of CBD’s ability to inhibit tumor growth while killing off cancer cells simultaneously. These effects are enhanced by the terpene profiles of strains such as OG Kush or Sour Diesel.
In places where recreational cannabis use is legal, many individuals diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders opt to self-treat by experimenting with terpenes and CBD concentrates to supplement conventional medications. This is done via the use of high-CBD cannabis strains, CBD concentrates or even terpene-infused vape juice.
Terpenes are a natural product of the plant world, and they play a big role in giving plants their unique flavors. These aromatic hydrocarbons can be found in all types of products from topicals to edibles. In this post, we go over a list of popular terpenes within the cannabis industry, as well as two key ways they can enhance your concentrates.
Examples of Terpenes & Where They Come From
Terpenes are present in virtually all plant life, and even in some insects. They serve a variety of vital functions in plants, such as warding off predators or attracting pollinators. In the case of human use, terpenes are currently utilised in a variety of industries other than cannabis, including beauty, sports medicine, vaping and restaurants.
Contrary to popular misconception, terpenes are fairly ubiquitous and don’t have to be purchased at a premium. In fact, they can be extracted at home using a range of different extraction methods, such as olive oil, steam or solvent extraction. Let’s look at some of the more commonly used terpenes within the cannabis industry today, and where they’re reliably found in nature.
- Myrcene is found mostly in mangoes, lemongrass, thyme or hops, and has been known to be a powerful muscle relaxer.
- Caryophyllene is found in cloves, black pepper and rosemary, and has been known to relieve inflammation.
- Limonene is found mostly in citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.
- Linalool is known mostly for its calming effect, and can be found in lavender, mint, laurels and coriander.
- Pinene is found mostly in pine trees, balsam and parsley — and has been known to act as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and bronchodilator.
Terpenes provide flavour, aroma and many other benefits such as aiding digestion and promoting muscle relaxation. Terpenes can also affect our overall mood; some terpenes like pinene promote feelings of happiness while others like linalool can relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression and even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Enhancing the Flavor & Aroma of Cannabis Concentrates
Many new cannabis consumers are put off by a heavy resinous aftertaste when experimenting with budder, or the oily sensation on the inside of the mouth after sublingual consumption of homemade tinctures. Terpene infusion can improve these experiences via their natural properties. Valencene, for instance, can impart the flavour of sweet Valencia oranges to a DIY cartridge, making it much more enjoyable to vape.
The zesty, citrusy anti-microbial terpene limonene strips oily residue while adding the flavour of fresh lemon. This not only makes tinctures more pleasant for newer consumers, but also viable for use in food items such as salads or stuffing.
The “Entourage Effect” Between Cannabinoids & Terpenes
The Entourage Effect is a term used to describe the synergistic response from the combination of compounds found in cannabis. This includes cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) interacting with terpenes or flavonoids. The combined properties of these components result in a better, more complete effect than any one compound can produce on its own.
In the case of CBD and terpenes, both compounds interact with the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), which is a network of receptors located within the nervous system, peripheral nervous system and immune cells. The two function synergistically to effectively enhance each other’s therapeutic potential, in particular their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties.