Terpenes in CBD oil. What are some benefits of having terpenes in a CBD product? How does it affect taste and consistency?
Let’s talk about terpenes. As a certified organic extractor of natural cannabis terpenes, we get a lot of questions from customers about the benefits of terpenes and how terpenes are blended into formulated products. These questions generally fall into four categories:
What are terpenes?
Technically, terpenes are unsaturated hydrocarbons that exist in plants. They provide the characteristic smell and flavor of a given plant. For example, pine needles have a distinctive smell that we associate with conifers like Christmas trees (and those air fresheners that people have hanging on their dashboards). That distinctive scent comes from terpenes, and specifically the predominant terpene – pinene – that exists in pine trees.
Terpenes allow plants to communicate with each other, aiding them in reproduction and warning each other about threats like bacteria or blight. The science of terpenes is extraordinary, and one can do a deep dive into terpene literature and come away impressed with what we still don’t know about terpenes.
Cannabis terpenes have historically been understudied, and only in recent years have scientists started to unlock the potential of cannabis terpenes. Research is increasingly pointing to health benefits from cannabis terpenes, including what is known as the “entourage effect” that the body experiences when terpenes and full-spectrum cannabinoids interact. The potential therapeutic benefits of terpenes are legion – from anti-inflammatory to sleep support to joint pain relief.
How are terpenes extracted?
Terpenes are highly volatile compounds. When left uncovered, they evaporate over a short period of time. When heated, they burn off. That’s why we use a two-step process for our terpene and oil extraction.
Our CO2 technology allow us to pull terpenes using a very specific level of pressure and temperature – a “soft pull” that extracts the terpenes from the hemp plant while leaving the cannabinoids in the plant. After we do a “terpene run” (which usually takes about a half hour of extraction), we remove the hemp material from the extractor and load it into our decarboxylation oven, which creates the chemical process by which cannabinoids are converted into their bioavailable form. Decarboxylation, or “de-carbing” is a process that merits its own discussion, but the key thing to note is that we have to pull the terpenes prior to putting the hemp material in the oven, so that we can capture the maximum terpene yield.
How do terpenes affect the taste of a CBD product?
The taste and smell of cannabis terpenes depend on the strain that we’re extracting. Some strains are high in terpenes like linalool, while other strains may be predominantly myrcene-dominant. Yet even within individual strains, terpene expressions can vary. In fact, we have found after three years of terpene that the same strain, grown in the same soil, can have a different terpene profiles depending on its location in the land plot and the time of harvest.
While this can be frustrating to some customers – understandably, brands want consistency in their products – this is the beauty and mystery of the cannabis plant. We emphasize with our customers that while we can aim for a specific terpene profile, there is inherent variability in botanical extraction. We embrace this variability, and see it as a logical extension of a focus on producing a product as close to nature intended as possible.
When developing products with our customers, we go through a sampling process that allows them to try a range of terpene concentrations before settling on a final product.
Does Kria extract individual terpenes, like myrcene and limonene?
No. While some companies produce individual terpenes by creating terpene isolates, these are synthetic compounds, and not naturally derived from the cannabis plant. Given our focus on natural ingredients, and the fact that our products are USDA certified organic, we do not create terpene isolates.
Unlocking the therapeutic potential of terpenes is a process that is only beginning. Since so little formal research has been done on the cannabis plant, our understanding of its properties and possibilities is extremely limited, especially compared to other botanicals. What we do know is that terpenes are what give the plant its unique smell and distinct flavor, and create the entourage effect that supports whole-body wellness.
If you’re a new CBD brand, or a current brand looking to branch out into new terpene-rich products, Kria Botanicals is your source for certified organic oils, customized to your specifications.