The Value of Whole Plant Terpenes in Cannabis Extracts

Why Fortifying With Cannabis-Based Terpenes is Essential

Throughout recent years, the introduction of cannabis concentrations has flooded the market. With excitement and an eagerness to explore new methodologies of cannabis consumption, processors and consumers began diving into the realm of dabbing and concentrates. And why not? Boasting extremely high THC concentrations, such products seem as a dream realized for those wishing to expand their minds and maximize both the psychoactive and therapeutic effects of cannabis.

In theory, cannabis concentrates fortified primarily with decarboxylated THC appear to be the holy grail of both recreational and medical patients. However, when dissected on the molecular level, concentrates with such high THC levels leave very little room for other cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBG, etc. While this isn’t meant to suggest there is something wrong with the high-THC concentration, it does limit the scope of broad-spectrum benefits delivered not through one cannabinoid alone, but by the synergistic effect stimulated by multiple constituents.

Although the readily accepted theory of The Entourage Effect, which suggests therapeutic value is contributed by numerous compounds working together rather than a single compound, generally discusses more well-known cannabinoids, recent research suggests terpenes hold a very powerful key to experiencing the full breadth of benefits offered by cannabis (1). This opens up a heated topic within the cannabis processing industry, is it better to use whole-plant or isolated terpenes?

An Investigation Into Wholeness | Terpene Usage in Cannabis Extracts

The use of terpenes in cannabis products is skyrocketing. As our understanding of terpene usage, beyond fortifying products with more desirable scents, so does the desire to enhance its overall effects. Whether used for surface-level enjoyment, such as boosting a specific flavor, or to maximize potential therapeutic value, a major discussion point revolves around how the terpenes are gathered.

In essence, the two primary methods of terpene usage include isolates and whole-plant extractions. Isolates are geared toward isolating a specific compounds, in this case, terpenes. Generally, when a terpene-only concentrate is used, such terpenes may come from plants other than cannabis. For example, beta-caryophyllene can be derived from both cannabis strains and black pepper. Yet, when it’s extracted from non-cannabis sources, it’s devoid of other cannabinoids that may assist in delivering its true therapeutic value.

As outlined in the August 2011 issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology, to maximize the therapeutic value of terpenes, we must consider the synergistic effect terpenes have with other cannabinoids to produce medicinal value. The interaction between phytocannabinoids and terpenes are as unique as the many cannabis strains on the market. Although the scientific community is unable to definitively state the actual influence whole-plant terpenes, current evidence strongly suggests in order to amplify positive benefits, we must switch our view from looking at a singular compound and adjust ourselves to consider the overarching interaction of all cannabis-based compounds.

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Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox has represented CAT Scientific’s family of homogenizers, magnetic stirrers, liquid handling and related laboratory equipment since 2002 when Staufen, Germany-based CAT Ingenieurbüro M. Zipperer GMbH established operations in North America. Bob oversees CAT Scientific laboratory apparatus sales and service organization from the company’s headquarters in Paso Robles, CA. He also is in charge of the parent company’s line of JetCat jet turbines, turboprop, and helicopter power plants for hobbyists’ radio controlled fixed wing and helicopter model aircraft. -- Earlier in Bob’s career he was involved in visual and special effects as well as camera and electronics supervisory responsibilities for the motion picture and television industry.

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