Whether you know it or not you probably appreciate terpenes on one level or another. Cannabis users are accustomed to terpenes in their flower. From the first cracking open of a container, to the dispensary, usually the first quality to grace your senses is the smell. That aroma comes from the array of terpenes. These volatile oils vaporize around room temperatures which is how they come to make contact with your nasal passage.
They are very potent, just a few percent of the total weight of your flower needs to be terpenes in order to create robust scents. Raw cannabis flower usually has about 3-5% terpenes by dry weight. They are often attributed with the various effects of the flowers which produce them. That detail is debatable and I think over exaggerated in order to create the perception of neatly categorized and understood flower types.
Regardless of those details, terpenes are potent volatile oil compounds with a variety of physiological effects. So whether you are sniffing at your latest dispensary purchase or rubbing essential oils on your temples, you are an appreciator of terpenes.
Did you know that terpenes, steroids and hormones are all made out of the same isoprene units? So terpenes actually get broken down and fuel our endocrine system.
“Terpenoids, the largest family of natural products with more than 40,000 structures, refer to a large class of oxygen-containing terpene analogues that can be found in all classes of living things”(1). Terpenes are fundamental to life on earth as we know it. There have been 120 terpenes identified in cannabis, based on encore labs article, our lab and most labs test for around 40 of those terpenes.
One of the main benefits of buying cannabis from a dispensary is getting all of the terpene lab results. As previously stated, only about 1/3rd of the possible terpenes in cannabis are actually analyzed for in the lab. With quantities of terpenes getting well below .1% levels it becomes increasingly difficult to detect and quantify them. Regardless, this information can still give you some idea of what the aroma the flower might have.
A Whole World of Terpenes
Outside of the 120 terpenes found in cannabis, there are tens of thousands in the rest of nature. Often the terpenes in cannabis are among the more simple. The world is full of complex and diverse terpenes like pentacyclic tri-terpenoids and these are incredibly medicinal.
Unfortunately these terpenes are nowhere to be found on any cannabis industry terpene test. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of the cannabis terpene world and let these other incredible terpenes fall into the shadows. Herbs and spices contain some of the most powerful medicinal terpenes. They are very stable, so much so we can dry them out, let them sit for years and they will still be aromatic.
Herbs, Spices and Resins "Oh my!"
Cinnamon and black pepper are two of the most utilized spices in any kitchen. Rarely is there a meal without black pepper or a table which is missing shaker or grinder. Black pepper can help increase our gut permeability and aid in food nutrient absorption. Cinnamon is renowned for its delicious semi-sweet flavor, but did you know it also helps keep your blood sugar from spiking?
Just about every herb and spice has a medicinal purpose. Often these effects come from their powerful terpenes. We utilize Co2 extracted spices in our formulations in order to harness these effects.
Often these medicinal components go beyond terpenes alone and are contained in the more dense oil fractions, only contained in what are called “oleoresins.” As opposed to thin, volatile oils (terpenes) or essential oils, these are thick and robust oils which also contain the terpenes as well.
Single Isolates vs. Complex Profiles
Many producers utilize single terpene isolates that are refined and derived from fruit. They think they have identified the single terpenes that will give you energy, focus or relax you. Sounds a lot like another industry right? The pharmaceutical industry.
This mindset has been problematic in the past and it is why we have all turned away from the reductionist oversimplification of our complex natural world. In general most compounds when isolated become more difficult for your body to absorb and increase their detrimental side effects or harm potential. Isolated terpenes also fall outside the realm of the full spectrum extract philosophy, more compounds from the same source work better together.
The Remedy Way
At The Remedy we tend to do things a little differently. We identify terpenes that we think are particularly beneficial, but we will use a a complex “full spectrum” extract of those terpenes, often that is in the form of essential oils. For example, instead of isolated beta-caryophyllene, we use copaiba balsam oil which contains β-caryophyllene, α-copaene, β-elemene, α-humulene, and germacrene D.
This makes for a much more complex terpene profile, robust entourage effect, and a more effectively absorbed and utilized product. Unfortunately, these terpenes often are not detected on lab tests and therefore cannot be demonstrated in a terpene profile test, we have tried!
The Most Robust Terpene Profiles
With each of our terpene containing ingredients comes a dozen or more terpenes. This creates a considerably more complex profile than could be achieved with individual isolates. Not only do our essential oils contain many varieties of terpenes while providing the specific main terpenes we chose, but even our distillate and oleoresins have terpenes too. So we have hemp derived terpenes while also including terpenes that will never be found in hemp or cannabis.
These terpenes are often more medicinal than any cannabis terpenes too. Including terpenes and more dense oil fractions together will maximize their absorption, utilization and effectiveness. This will provide more compounds from the same source working better together. Come feel the difference for yourself, all of our tinctures include our absorption enhancing complex which includes countless terpenes.