Extraction 101

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Extraction 101: What are Terpenes and Why are they Important?

Aside from cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, terpenes are the most talked about components of the cannabis plant. However, most people have never even heard of terpenes, let alone know what they are or how they play a key role in the effects cannabis has on the body. 

As cannabis consumers are becoming more educated, though, they’re becoming increasingly aware of terpenes and looking for them specifically when purchasing cannabis products. The manufacturers of those products, then, need to become mindful of both the demand for terpenes and the benefit they can have in increasing overall product quality. 

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally-occurring organic compounds that plants produce for various reasons, like attracting pollinators and deterring would-be predators. Terpenes are the compounds that make plants smell the way they do. The cannabis plant can produce dozens of different terpenes, which is why there is such a diverse range in the smells cannabis can have. 

Terpenes play a larger role than just giving cannabis its unique taste and smell. Research suggests that terpenes are integral to the entourage effect and magnify the cannabis plant’s beneficial properties. They also influence the differences between the unique effects that cannabis strains have.  

While many cannabis processors ignore terpenes, ENTEXS has developed a cutting-edge automated steam distillation system specifically for producing ultra-high purity extracts of terpenes from both cannabis and other botanical sources. The extracted terpenes from this system can be used in conjunction with cannabis distillates and isolates to create products which more accurately reflect the profile and benefits of the plant itself. 

What’s the Difference Between Terpenes and Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a specific class of chemical compounds that the cannabis plant creates. They’re all chemically similar and derive from one root chemical compound. When consumed, they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system by binding to very specific receptors in the body, evolved for signaling within the body with its own endogenous cannabinoids. Cannabinoids themselves don’t have specific tastes or smells. 

Terpenes are chemical compounds created by all plants. Most don’t interact directly with the body’s endocannabinoid system, though some can. They have different chemical structures, and the body interacts with them differently than most cannabinoids.  

How Do Terpenes Affect the Body?

Research on terpenes and cannabis in the body is still relatively new. Even still, there is a growing body of evidence that they do play a secondary role next to cannabinoids in the effects cannabis has. In fact, many cannabis manufacturers are listing the main terpenes in their products and marketing their effects based on those terpenes. At the same time, educated consumers are looking for terpene information, both for the smell of the product and the effects it may have. 

At the same time, many terpenes have been studied independently. Since terpenes are found in all plants, they’re commonly used for flavoring and smell in a wide range of products, including food, cosmetics, cleaning products, and a lot more.  

What are Some Common Terpenes?

The cannabis plant can produce more than 150 terpenes, but there are a few that come up more than the rest. These are also the ones typically associated with the smell that different cannabis strains have.   

Myrcene is a very common terpene in the cannabis plant. It’s also found in hops, thyme, and mangoes. It has a rich, sweetly rich, sweet, fruity aroma. Myrcene has been shown to have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Myrcene typically makes people feel sleepy.

Limonene is another common terpene, usually found in citrus fruits. As the name implies, it has a lemon or citrus smell. Limonene has many reported health benefits. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. This terpene also has reported immune-boosting and antiviral properties. Limonene generally makes cannabis users feel more awake or energized. 

Linalool is the terpene that gives lavender its distinct smell. Linalool has been studied fairly extensively for its aromatherapy benefits. This terpene has been shown to have serious antianxiety benefits which also help boost the immune system. Linalool is also a great terpene for relaxation and sleep. 

Pinene is responsible for the signature pine smell of pine needles, rosemary, and basil. Pinene has anti-inflammatory properties and has been proven to be a natural bronchodilator, increasing airflow to the lungs. Pinene may also have antimicrobial properties too. 

If you’ve ever wondered what gives black pepper and cloves their unique aroma, look no further. Beta-caryophyllene is the terpene that gives black pepper, cloves, oregano, and other spices their distinct smell. Beta-caryophyllene is a known powerful anti-inflammatory that actually binds to CB2 endocannabinoid receptors. Because it’s such a powerful anti-inflammatory, beta-caryophyllene can also be used to treat pain. 

Humulene is the terpene that gives craft beer its distinct “hoppy” smell. It’s often described as earthy or woody. Humulene is also an anti-inflammatory, but it’s more versatile than that. Humulene is known to reduce allergic reactions and even prevent tumor growth. 

Clearly, terpenes play a key role in the many benefits the cannabis plant holds. Keep a close eye on the ENTEXS website and social media channels for exciting news on brand new terpene-related tech from ENTEXS. In the next entry of the series, we’ll explore isolates and their uses. 

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