Terpene Facts

In recent years, the importance of the function of cannabis terpenes in hemp products has taken on great importance with companies who are keeping up with the latest research. Hemponix is one of those companies. Up until the last few years, the only explanation most hemp product companies could give was somewhat of a mysterious and almost magical one, expressed in qualitative terms, like “entourage effect” and “synergistic effect.” While those terms are impressive sounding, they are wholly inadequate at educating you, the consumer, on just how these compounds do what they do.

Here at Hemponix, we believe the more informed you are, the more confident you will be in your purchasing decisions – and confidence is empowering! So, let’s first look at the meaning of “entourage effect” and “synergistic effect,” then examine what those terms actually mean, in practice, as they pertain to your Hemponix products and how your body responds to them.

First, what are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced in plants the world over. In cannabis, they not only provide nice aromas and unique flavors but are very therapeutic in their own right!

Entourage Effect and Synergy

Simply put, these terms describe the enhanced effectiveness of cannabinoids when proper terpenes are part of the product. Without terpenes, hemp/cannabis products are limited in their effect, though still useful. Unfortunately, a great many companies are still not including terpenes in their products, nor are they aware of how to properly utilize terpenes. For quite a while, the hemp industry had no real scientific explanation as to why this phenomenon existed – they just knew it did, so vague terms like entourage and synergy were used.

However, there is an obvious and very real physiological and biochemical response to terpenes in cannabis products occurring in the human body, but what – exactly – is behind that response? The answer isn’t yet entirely clear, but enough pharmacological research evidence now exists that a few reasonable explanations can be presented here.

Direct Action On Endocannabinoid Receptor Function or Something Else?

In April 2021, Nature Magazine published the “Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity” study, and up until that time, no scientific proof of direct modulation of endocannabinoid receptors existed. Older studies suggested that terpenes acted on different receptors, individually, to produce effects that were similar to those gained by cannabinoids. The prevailing thought was that, when you add up these independent effects, they only appeared to enhance the effect of cannabinoids, but that all these different effects existed independently of one another. Thus, “entourage” and “synergistic” were appropriate.

Ultimately, terpenes were shown to directly modulate endocannabinoid receptor activity by binding to receptors CB1 and CB2 in their own unique ways that represent 10% to 50% of the effectiveness of cannabinoids, themselves. That’s astounding!

To put all this in layman’s terms, I provide the following analogy: Imagine the CB1 or CB2 receptor that binds with the cannabinoids as a horse. In this case, we’ll think about CBD as the cannabinoid. The horse’s jockey is the cannabinoid (CBD), telling the horse to “giddy up,” and the terpenes are the map in the jockey’s head that determines the exact path the horse takes. That terpene map guides the specific course the horse takes. Now let’s imagine that destination is the action needed to reduce inflammation in the knee, rather than to reduce anxiety, which CBD can also do. How do we achieve that? We select a specific map for the job in the form of our terpene blend! That’s right, we can formulate the CBD oil to be primarily for inflammation reduction, or for anxiety reduction, simply by modifying the terpenes used in the product! So, now that we know the terpene science, let’s look at which terpenes are doing what in their influence, and just how important it is for the product formulation chemist (me, for instance) to utilize the proper terpenes for the intended purpose of a specific product!

The Primary Terpenes in Hemp And Cannabis

In the hemp plant, more than 250 terpenes have been identified. While every terpene has a role to play, there are only about half a dozen primary terpenes. Primary terpenes are those that are most dominant and in the highest concentrations in the plant, and they perform virtually all the guidance to the cannabinoids in the human body, ultimately. As a formulation chemist, this simplifies my job a great deal. One thing to keep in mind is that all these terpenes only account for 1% to 3% of the plant, by weight. The cannabinoids, like CBG, CBD, THC, and others, account for up to 25% to 30% of the plant, by weight. On average, most hemp contains about 15% to 20% cannabinoid oil content, but the terpene content remains the same at 1% to 3%.

One very important point to remember is that a plant with 25% cannabinoid and a weak terpene profile of 1% is often less effective and less potent than a plant with only 15% cannabinoid content and a 3% terpene profile. And, of course, the specific terpenes present in the plant alter the therapeutic effect in very large ways.

Let’s look at these very important terpenes and how they transform your Hemponix products to meet some very specific needs.

Primary Terpenes

Beta-caryophyllene

Beta-Caryophyllene Terpene Chart

Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found in various plants, including cannabis, and it offers several potential health benefits. Notably, it is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system’s CB2 receptors, which are associated with regulating inflammation and the immune system. Beta-caryophyllene exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making it potentially valuable in managing inflammatory conditions. It may also have analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. Additionally, this terpene has shown promise in reducing anxiety and depression, possibly by modulating the endocannabinoid system. Beyond its potential health benefits, beta-caryophyllene contributes to the aroma and flavor profiles of many plants and herbs, adding to its appeal in culinary and aromatic applications.

Alpha-Pinene

Alpha-Pinene Terpene Chart

Alpha-pinene is a terpene commonly found in various plants, including pine trees and cannabis, and it offers several potential health benefits. Known for its distinctive pine scent, alpha-pinene has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and bronchodilatory effects, making it potentially useful in the treatment of respiratory conditions like asthma. It is also considered a cognitive enhancer, with research suggesting that it may improve memory and alertness. Furthermore, alpha-pinene exhibits antimicrobial properties, potentially helping to combat bacterial and fungal infections. This terpene’s potential therapeutic benefits extend beyond its aroma and flavor contributions, making it a valuable compound in both traditional and modern medicine.

The Importance of Utilizing the Proper Terpene Profiles in Product Formulation

While the above-mentioned terpenes are not the only terpenes utilized in the hemp industry, they are without a doubt the heaviest workers, therapeutically. At Hemponix, we are very careful in our formulations of our various products, ensuring proper ratios and overall content, providing your products the edge you seek in attaining the benefits you desire, the first time, every time!

Proper utilization of terpenes is critical to the efficacy and functioning of your Hemponix products and we take that relationship very seriously. Cutting-edge formulations that reproduce the natural benefits present in the hemp plant, but in a convenient bottle – that’s the Hemponix edge!