You may already be familiar with the top 20 cannabis derived terpenes and not know it. With all of the recent crossbreeding and hybridization of cannabis, the cannabis industry can now offer hundreds of unique terpene profiles to consumers in the products they purchase. In turn, each strain has a specific combination of terpenes that set it apart from other strains and determine how it smells and tastes. Put simply, terpenes found in cannabis behave much like essential oils. Cannabis plants just happen to have high concentrations of these beneficial compounds.

Cannabis companies can now extract the terpenes from different strains of cannabis and add them to tinctures, oils, cosmetics, beverages, and edibles to provide enhanced benefits to consumers. Some cannabis enthusiasts argue that various terpenes not only contribute to a strain’s smell and taste but also have therapeutic qualities and medicinal properties. These might include anti-anxiety or anti-inflammatory effects [1], though limited scientific evidence exists to prove these claims beyond common experiences. 

Nonetheless, it’s helpful to understand what people find most appealing about common cannabis-derived terpenes in order to choose a strain best suited to your particular needs and desires. This list of the top twenty cannabis terpenes will help you demystify the nuanced world of cannabis terpenes.

What are terpenes?

A whiff of honeysuckle, a rose in full bloom, the smell of fresh-mown grass—all of these are borne from the release of terpenes into the air. But, terpenes do more than simply offer us olfactory pleasure. The evolutionary roles of both cannabis terpenes and botanical terpenes serve to protect a plant from predators, as well as attract pollinators. A particularly repellent smell, for instance, might help the plant stay out of the path of an animal who wishes to eat it. On the other hand, terpenes play a vital role in luring helpful insects to flowers to ensure the plant’s survival through pollination [2].

Though each cannabis flower contains over 100 terpenes [3], as well as various other cannabis compounds, the most prevalent terpenes have risen in popularity as consumers discover what terpene content makes their favorite strains especially enjoyable.

Cannabis terpenes and the entourage effect

The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD is possible because of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex signaling system has evolved to utilize various compounds found in cannabis to regulate body functions—a process that is still being researched [4].

The cannabinoid receptors of this system are found in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells of the human body [4]. Researchers have found that terpenes likely play a role in the entourage effect, thereby offering the potential to enhance the effects of cannabinoids [5].

The theory behind the entourage effect proposes that any potential inherent properties of the cannabinoids, whether relaxing, invigorating, mind expanding or otherwise, may be elevated when all of the cannabis compounds work together in the ECS. As such, terpenes may work in harmony with cannabinoids and flavonoids to make the cannabis plant even more powerful. According to the theoretical principles behind the entourage effect, products such as full-spectrum CBD oils utilize the whole of the hemp plant, along with its terpenes, to produce a more comprehensive experience [4].

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Are terpenes legal?

The 2014 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of Schedule 1 substances and sewed the seeds for hemp’s recent resurgence. The Bill prompted long-forbidden research into hemp-derived cannabinoids to begin in earnest.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, allowing people to produce, sell, and consume hemp-derived products with less than .3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight, making it clear to legal experts and cannabis growers that these products, including terpenes, were federally-compliant [6]. On the other hand, marijuana—defined as cannabis containing more than .3%  Delta-9 THC—is still illegal in many states.

Neither hemp nor marijuana terpenes produce psychoactive effects. One main difference between the two types of cannabis plants is the type of cannabinoids associated with them. The most well-known cannabinoid in hemp, for instance, is the non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol), whereas, the main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). 

These and other cannabinoids like CBG and CBN exist in both types of cannabis, and are protected by the Farm Bill if they derive from hemp. Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, and even Delta-9 THC may be derived from federally compliant hemp. Legal cannabis products may contain any of these three types of THC as long as they contain less than .3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight. 

So even if all pure cannabis terpenes contain zero THC, it’s important to remember that they must come from hemp to be protected by the Farm Bill’s legislation. Terpenes from marijuana may not be legal except in states that sanction adult-use of marijuana. 

What are the top 20 cannabis-derived terpenes?

Some terpenes occur more often than others in cannabis, though the combinations and percentages of them may vary widely depending on the strain. Below are the top 20 terpenes found in the cannabis plant. As the list progresses, the overall amount of a particular terpene may be less in a strain but still have a place in the overall unique profile of the strain and its resulting entourage effect. 

Myrcene

One of the most prominent terpenes found in cannabis, myrcene has a fragrance that has been described as peppery, spicy, herbal, floral, and woody. Myrcene is found in hops, bay, thyme, lemongrass, mango, verbena, and cardamom [7]. Although it has a pleasant odor on its own, myrcene is typically used by the perfume industry as a foundation ingredient for developing other fragrances. Anecdotal reports about the effects of myrcene paint a picture of relaxation, calm, and relief, though these claims have not been fully proven. It is the most prevalent terpene in most cannabis strains, including all of Earthy’s cannabis-derived strains.

Limonene

A monoterpene with a fragrance that is often described as smelling of citrus fruits, limonene is high in many strains of cannabis and is also found in pines, red maple, silver maple, aspen trees, cottonwoods, hemlocks, sumac, cedar, and junipers. The terpene with the citrus aroma has been shown in some studies to possess anti-inflammatory qualities and is a popular additive in cosmetics, foods, and cleaning products [7]. You’ll find it is a major terpene in strains like Jack Herer and Suver Haze. 

Pinene

Pinene is the most abundant terpene in the natural world and is found in its alpha and beta forms. It is responsible for the distinctive aroma of coniferous trees, particularly pine trees, from which it derives its name. Also found in rose gun, parsley, frankincense, guava, juniper, rosemary, and nutmeg, pinene is a primary constituent of turpentine [8]. Several plants high in pinene have been used in traditional medicines for conditions such as gastrointestinal disturbances and pain [9], yet there is no conclusive evidence to prove its efficacy for these conditions. Hawaiian Haze, Harlequin, and Cotton Candy Kush all feature pinene prominently. 

Beta-Caryophyllene

Both cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica strains tend to be high in beta-caryophyllene. This terpene can also be found in plants such as rosemary clove, hops, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and basil. With a spicy, earthy aroma that many describe as smelling like cracked pepper, beta-caryophyllene is high in strains such as Canna Cake, Super Sour, and Sour Diesel [10].

Ocimene

An isomeric hydrocarbon found in a variety of fruits and plants, ocimene is known for its sweet, woodsy aroma. Sometimes used in perfumes, ocimene occurs naturally in mint, parsley, pepper, basil, mangoes, orchids, and kumquats. Cannabis strains high in ocimene include Suver Haze and Sour Special.

Terpinolene

Terpinolene is characterized by its floral, citrus, and piney aromas. Present in lilac, sage, rosemary, nutmeg, cumin, apple, and tea trees, this terpene has been anecdotally described as moderately sedative [11]. Although it is generally present in cannabis, it is usually in moderate amounts and predominantly in cannabis sativa strains with higher THC content. Besides being used as a preserving and flavoring agent in the food industry, it is also used to scent perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetic products [11]. Look for terpinolene levels to rank high in strains like Golden Pineapple, Sour Lifter, and Super Sour. 

Alpha-Humulene

First identified in the essential oils of Humulus lupulus, or hops, alpha-humulene is said to have a “hoppy” beer-like taste and smell. Besides cannabis and hops, other sources of alpha-humulene include basil, ginger, cloves, black pepper, ginseng, and Vietnamese coriander [12]. Alpha-humulene also delivers a woody, herbaceous smell and is mostly found in sativa strains of cannabis. Cannabis that contains high levels of alpha-humulene may affect how appetite is regulated [12]. You’ll find a humulene in Candyland, White Widow, and Cherry Soda

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Linalool

Responsible for giving lavender its soothing aroma, linalool is also found in some citrus, birch, rosewood, laurels, and coriander. In cannabis plants, linalool typically smells floral, spicy, or woody. Cannabis strains high in linalool include Lifter and Hawaiian Haze.

Eucalyptol

This intense-smelling terpene is most abundant in the eucalyptus tree. Anecdotally touted for its medicinal purposes, eucalyptol is often added to cough and cold medicine to assist with respiratory function and help open the airways [14]. Also present in cannabis, rosemary, bay leaves, sage, sweet basil, and the camphor tree, eucalyptol smells cool and refreshing. That’s why many companies incorporate this common terpene into skin balms and lotions. It is a common terpene found in Girl Scout Cookies, Headband, and Super Sour. 

Alpha-Phellandrene

In the past, both alpha-phellandrene and beta-phellandrene were sometimes misidentified as pinene or limonene. Yet, after advanced testing of these terpenes, researchers discovered they are distinct isomeric compounds [14]. Alpha-phellandrene gets its name from Eucalyptus phellandrene. Although it is most prominent in eucalyptus plants, alpha-phellandrene can be found in dill, black pepper, mint, parsley, cinnamon, lavender, pine, ginger grass, and water fennel. Find a phellandrene in the profile of strains like Suver Haze and Ace of Spades. 

Alpha-Terpinene

Occurring naturally in a variety of plants including allspice, eucalyptus, citrus, juniper, cardamom, and marjoram, alpha-terpinene is known for its smoky, woody aroma. This monoterpene is commonly used to scent cleaning fluids as well as utilized as an ingredient in beauty products, pharmaceuticals, and foods. In tea tree oil, αlpha-terpinene has been shown to possess potential antioxidant properties [15]. Sour Special, Hawaiian Haze, and Ghost Train Haze all have alpha terpinene represented in their bouquets. 

Guaiol

Guaiol’s woody and floral scent lends a rich pungency to cannabis strains such as Sour Suver. Also found in cypress and guaiacum wood, this lesser-known terpene is unlike many others in that it has a liquid structure instead of oil. The guaiacum plant, in which guaiol is high, has been used in natural medicine since the 18th century in the form of guaiacum gum: a natural medicine made from the extract of the guaiacum plant. People traditionally used it for reproductive system health and regulation [16]. Those familiar with the Cinex, Suver Haze, or Fruit Loops strains will recognize this terpene. 

3 Carene

Cannabis-derived 3 carene gives off a heady, sweet scent with hints of citrus and cypress. Other plants that feature this terpene include rosemary, pine, and cedar. Commonly used in cosmetics, 3 carene is also used in insect repellents. Additionally, researchers have found in animal and cell studies that 3 carene may play a role against inflammation [17]. This terpene is found in strains such as Sour Lifter and AK-47. 

Camphene

Summer in humid areas wouldn’t be the same without the smell of citronella candles and the relief they bring from mosquitos. That aroma comes from camphene. Once used as an alternative to whale oil and burned in lamps, camphene is also found in camphor, cypress, spruce, ginger, rosemary, sage, and valerian. Most cannabis strains contain camphene in concentrations below 0.2% [18]. OG Kush and Sour Special are example strains whose profile includes camphene

Fenchol

Naturally occurring in basal and aster flowers, fenchol is a secondary cannabis terpene prized for its earthy and camphor-like smell. Used in perfumes and detergents, fenchol has shown efficacy in a number of therapeutic areas as well [19]. Look for fenchol in OG Kush and Sour Lifter to experience it firsthand. 

P-Cymene

Found in plants such as thyme, cumin, coriander, eucalyptus, cilantro, and oregano, this terpene expresses an earthy or “musty” aroma. A secondary cannabis terpene, p-cymene has been shown to play a role in the pain response of mice [20]. You’ll find that this terpene is an important one in Lemon Skunk and Lifter.

Sabinene

Though the presence of sabinene is relatively low in many cannabis varieties, strains that give off a peppery, piney or mint aroma likely contain at least some of this terpene [21]. A constituent of carrot seed oil and black pepper, sabinene is also found in oak, Norway spruce, tea tree, nutmeg, basil, marjoram, cloves, and cardamom. This fresh-smelling terpene is used to flavor foods and scent perfumes. Additionally, it has been studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits for skin and digestion [22]. Sabinene features in strains like Mimosa and Tangerine Dream. 

Valencene

Named after the Valencia orange, valencene is a sesquiterpene, meaning that it is a more complex type of terpene than monoterpenes like pinene or limonene [23]. Citrusy and sweet, the smell of valencene has also been likened to freshly cut wood and fresh herbs. It is unsurprisingly found in Tangie and Agent Orange, as well as Lifter and Cherry Soda. 

Nerolidol

Also called peruviol and penetrol, nerolidol is reminiscent of the smell of apple, citrus, rose, and fresh bark. It’s often added to skin care products because it is easily absorbed and can enhance the absorption of other substances. While humans enjoy its smell and taste, pests stay clear of it, making it an ideal agent for warding off insects [24]. The profiles of Jack Herer, GG4, and Suver Haze wouldn’t be the same without nerolidol.

Borneol

Borneol is a fresh and minty-tasting cannabis terpene also naturally occurring in ginger, rosemary, camphor, and thyme. Chinese physicians have used borneol’s potent analgesic qualities since around 475 – 221 BC in a treatment called “moxa,” still used by some alternative medicine practitioners today [25]. Haze strains of cannabis generally contain higher concentrations of borneol.

Know your top 20 cannabis terpenes

This list intends to educate cannabis enthusiasts about how different terpenes influence smell and taste as well as illuminate the traditional uses for the most prominent terpenes. 

Bookmark this page so that you can review how terpenes function as you peruse different strains of cannabis. Having a little inside information can go a long way in navigating the exciting landscape of cannabis terpenes. Your olfactory neurons and taste buds will thank us later.

 


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6308289/
  2. https://finestlabs.com/role-of-terpenes-in-plants/#
  3. https://hightimes.com/guides/aroma-therapy/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/
  5. https://healthsciences.arizona.edu/newsroom/news-releases/2021/study-shows-cannabis-terpenes-provide-pain-relief-contribute-entourage#
  6. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/ 
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25622554/
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turpentine
  9. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.583211/full
  10. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/caryophyllene-terpene
  11. https://www.trulieve.com/discover/blog/why-you-should-know-about-terpinolene-and-its-benefits
  12. https://finestlabs.com/humulene-terpene/
  13. https://finestlabs.com/eucalyptol-terpene/
  14. https://www.trulieve.com/discover/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-a-phellandrene-and-its-benefits
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22250748
  16. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/guaiol-terpene
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2747263/
  18. https://finestlabs.com/camphene-terpene/
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17913064/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22486037/
  21. https://labeffects.com/terpene-glossary-sabinene
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24012643
  23. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cannabis-terpenes-terpineol-valencene-geraniol 
  24. https://finestlabs.com/nerolidol-terpene/
  25. https://greensiderec.com/borneol/ 
  26. https://cannacon.org/15-terpenes-cannabis-explained/#:~:text=Myrcene%20is%20the%20most%20abundant,%2C%20red%20grape%2Dlike%20aroma.

 

Frequently asked questions

What is the full-spectrum entourage effect?

The full-spectrum entourage effect is the theory that many different compounds of the cannabis plant—including phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes—work better together than separately with the endocannabinoid system, thereby enhancing the effects of the plant.

What is the most abundant terpene in cannabis?

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. In fact, myrcene makes up to 65% of the total terpene composition in many strains.

Do terpenes have psychoactive effects?

Terpenes are not psychoactive in and of themselves. However, anecdotal reports indicate that terpenes may influence how you feel when they are taken alongside psychoactive cannabinoids such as THC.

What are botanical-derived terpenes?

Though all the terpenes in cannabis are technically botanical-derived, as cannabis is a plant, the cannabis industry has come to differentiate between cannabis-derived terpenes and botanical-derived (non-cannabis-derived) terpenes.

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Terpenes have been a staple of cosmetics for as long as people have wanted to smell good—basically throughout history. The truth is, we do our best to smell fresh and pleasing, so why not add our favorite pleasing and fresh scents to the products we use on our bodies?

Even in biblical times, people sought a pleasant scent in their grooming products by using essential oils, which are what terpenes are derived from. For instance, in the Old Testament’s Song of Songs, the bridegroom delights in the smells of his beloved, the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon, nard, myrrh, and all the finest spices. In essence, the bride had bathed or washed her clothes with terpene-infused products, though, of course, they would not have called it that. 

All this is to say that terpenes have been a part of our bodily rituals for a very long time.

Are we living on planet terpene?

In these modern times, the scents of our cosmetics options are practically infinite, thanks to botanical terpene extraction on a grand scale. Lavender, vanilla, lilac, and rose are among some of the most popular fragrances in the cosmetics industry. But, what about cannabis-derived terpenes

Do we want to smell like different cannabis strains? The popularity of new terpene-infused cosmetics suggests we do indeed. In fact, cosmetics companies are just beginning to discover how much consumers do want their skin, hair care, and beauty products to give off these familiar rich aromas. However, it remains to be seen which cannabis terpenes will ultimately rise to the top in this exciting new world of cosmetics fragrances.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are in our food, the flowers we smell, and, yes, the cosmetic products we use. They are simply the chemical compounds found in plants which affect the way they smell and taste. Cannabis plants happen to contain high concentrations of these aromatic compounds.

Different terpene profiles in nature determine the characteristic aromas of plants. For instance, the common terpene linalool gives lavender its distinctive floral scent, and the terpene alpha-pinene contributes to the woody, earthy aroma of pine needles and rosemary.

What’s more, the scent of a plant can help it survive. Terpenes can protect plants from being eaten by insects or other animals by giving off a scent that repels the would-be pests [1]. In another helpful technique, terpenes like the terpene limonene, found in citrus fruits and other plants, may emit pleasing aromas to attract pollinators. 

Are terpenes and essential oils the same? 

Terpenes are the primary constituents of essential oils, yet there are some key differences. The main difference is that essential oils contain all of the main components of a particular plant species, while terpenes are isolated from the other components. 

By extracting only the terpenes from a given plant, as opposed to extracting the essential oil in its entirety, people are able to mix and match different terpenes to create more complex scents. To use a cooking metaphor, lemons are just one ingredient in lemon meringue pie just as the terpene pinene is just one component of the essential oil of pine trees.

Four common ingredients in cosmetics

There are four main categories of ingredients when it comes to cosmetics:

  • Surfactants
  • Conditioning polymers
  • Preservatives
  • Fragrances

It’s important for consumers to understand what these basic ingredients are in order to make decisions about which cosmetics are safest and most useful for them.

Found in products used for washing, surfactants break up oily substances that collect on the skin. They can be washed away with water and are often combined with additives like salts, dyes, or perfumes in products like makeup, cleansing gel, shampoo, and lotion. Additionally, surfactants help to thicken products, allowing them to spread more evenly and foam when lathered [2].

Conditioning polymers are used widely in skincare product production because they help maintain moisture. A natural component of vegetable oils and animal fats, glycerin is one of the most popular and cost effective conditioning polymers and can now be produced synthetically. Also used in hair products to attract water, conditioning polymers soften the hair by swelling the hair shaft. They keep cosmetics from drying out and stabilize fragrances so they don’t seep through bottles [2].

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Preservatives keep cosmetics from going bad. They serve to slow the growth of harmful bacteria and prolong a product’s shelf life. Additionally, they can help keep a product from causing infections on the skin or in the eyes [2].

Our sense of smell is often the first sense we engage to learn about a person or product, so fragrance is extremely important. Though a particular fragrance can make a product especially desirable, some fragrances can be harmful. That’s why natural fragrances such as essential oils or terpenes are some of the best ingredients with which to scent a cosmetic product. Synthetic fragrances can contain harmful chemicals that may cause allergic reactions so avoiding them may be better.

When it comes to scenting cosmetics with cannabis terpenes, it’s important to preserve the pure aromas through a careful extraction process. Too much heat or pressure can lead to the breakdown of the terpenes’ chemical structure. Thus, it’s important to buy high-quality terpenes from reputable companies. Look for a terpene’s certificate of analysis (COA). A COA is a document attesting to a product’s laboratory analysis for cannabinoids and in some cases adulterants [3].” A company should post its products’ COAs publicly for transparency and confidence in the product. Earthy Terpenes are 100% cannabis-derived, all-natural, strain-specific, with no additives.

What’s the purpose of terpenes and essential oils in cosmetics?

Overall, the role of terpenes and essential oils in cosmetics is to make the product smell good. However, there are also potential benefits associated with each of them. For instance, cosmetic formulations that include linalool, the main terpene found in lavender essential oil, may be calming to the human body. Other terpenes such as myrcene may also prove beneficial to the skin [4].

Certain terpenes absorb into the skin more readily, so it’s important to know which different terpenes have been added to a given product in order to understand how the most common terpenes might provide benefits.

Cannabis-derived terpenes vs. botanical terpenes

Though all the terpenes in cannabis are technically botanically-derived, since cannabis is a plant, the cannabis industry has come to differentiate between cannabis-derived terpenes and botanical-derived (non-cannabis-derived) terpenes. Cannabis terpenes and botanical terpenes share many of the same terpenes. For example, alpha-pinene, which is abundant in mint plants, is also at a high level in cannabis strains such as Hawaiian Haze and Canna Cake.

Will this lotion get me high?

Terpenes in and of themselves cannot get you high. However, skin cells will likely absorb some of the terpenes in the product, which can work in the same way on your cell receptors as essential oils. For example, terpenes such as linalool can be absorbed through the skin surface and can potentially calm the mind and body.

In contrast, if your cosmetic product contains cannabinoids such as THC or full spectrum CBD , terpenes may influence the way you experience the effects of these by way of the entourage effect. The entourage effect proposes that when different compounds of the cannabis plant are taken together, they can enhance the benefits of the cannabinoids [5].

Cannabis, hemp, marijuana and the Farm Bills

Marijuana and hemp both come from the cannabis plant, yet the law treats them quite differently. The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills established new federal legal definitions and rules for hemp, including the allowance that hemp “and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than .3% on a dry weight basis” may be legally produced, sold, transported and used.

Simply put, cannabis with less than .3% Delta-9 THC is defined as hemp, while cannabis with more than .3%  Delta-9 THC is defined as marijuana. Marijuana and hemp both contain terpenes. However, the main difference between the two plants is the type of cannabinoids traditionally associated with them. 

The most well-known cannabinoids in cannabis are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD on its own is non-psychoactive, whereas THC is psychoactive. Full spectrum CBD is made up of material from the entire plant, including minor cannabinoids and trace amounts of Delta-9 THC. Many if not all cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, CBN, Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, and even Delta-9 THC, may be derived from federally compliant hemp.

Are terpenes & the entourage effect related? 

There is some evidence to indicate terpenes influence the entourage effect, the way in which cannabis compounds—like cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes—work synergistically in the endocannabinoid system to enhance the overall effect of the plant on the body [5].  

The entourage effect, in relation to cannabis, was first coined by Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat in their 1998 hypothesis that proposed other organic compounds work in tandem with the primary endogenous cannabinoids, thereby enhancing the effects of cannabis.

Cannabinoids don’t seem to work in the same way without the entourage effect. For instance, scientists have found that the mixture of all the components of the plant has different effects than isolated compounds. GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of one of the only sanctioned cannabis-based drugs Sativex (called Nabiximols in the U.S.), found that a whole plant extract was more effective than a single compound for certain therapies. Another researcher noted that single-component drugs like Marinol, a synthetic THC pill, have less therapeutic value than those with more cannabinoids [6].

Still, research on the entourage effect is in its infancy and some scientists seek more data to be fully convinced [7]. However, many cannabis proponents lean on the existing data, as well as popular anecdotal notions of the entourage effect, and embrace the opportunity to create custom blends of terpenes and cannabinoids to offer consumers specifically designed effects [8].

Are terpenes safe to use in cosmetics?

If used properly, many terpenes are safe to use in cosmetic products. While some terpenes are known for irritating the skin, the severity of the irritation is linked to higher concentrations of them. That’s why it’s important for terpenes to be appropriately diluted in products used for skin care. What’s more, proper storage of terpenes is required to preserve their purity and decrease the risk of adverse skin reactions [9].

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) specifies which terpenes represent a potential allergy risk as well as states the maximum concentration of them allowed in a product in order to produce safe cosmetics [9].

Naturally pure: benefits of terpenes in cosmetics

The most notable benefit of terpenes in cosmetics is their ability to make our grooming products smell good. The aroma of limonene, for example, can make a lotion smell pleasantly of citrus. Or, nerolidol might make a cleanser or shampoo evoke the smell of orange blossom. A pleasing aroma promotes relaxation and can make you feel good, providing a sense of overall wellness.

Moreover, terpenes can penetrate the body’s largest organ—the skin—and may enhance the transdermal delivery of certain lipids, vitamins, minerals, and potentially cannabinoids [10]. 

Hands holding Earthy Now Soothing Relief Lotion. Terpenes and cosmetics text. Earthy Now logo.

Terpenes in cosmetics

There’s a good reason that throughout history civilizations have used essential oils and their terpene constituents as ingredients for bathing and grooming products. We simply feel better (and cleaner) when we smell better. Unsurprisingly, this tradition has survived, and today terpenes and essential oils are still the most widely used natural ingredients in the cosmetic and perfumery industries.

Terpenes & oral care

Toothpaste and oral care products can benefit from the addition of terpenes in several ways. First of all, certain terpenes like linalool, camphene, and alpha-pinene give a fresh taste to our mouths, improving our breath and getting rid of the stale taste that can accumulate there after a period of time. Secondly, certain terpenes like limonene show promise as a dental cleaning aid, yet more research is needed [11].

Terpenes & skin health

Terpenes have been added to skincare products throughout history to make them smell fresh and desirable. But they may provide other benefits related to skin health. For example, the antioxidant properties of alpha-pinene [12] and the antibacterial properties of limonene [13] could potentially benefit general skin wellness.

Terpenes & sun care

Applying sunscreen regularly is an important way to help you avoid sunburn and skin cancer. Adding terpenes to sunscreen can make these products smell good as well as offer other potential benefits. For example, myrcene has been shown to potentially play a role in protecting skin, though more research is needed [14].

Terpenes & hair care

Who doesn’t love to burrow their nose into freshly washed hair and breathe in the aroma? Let’s face it, modern humans want to have good-smelling hair. That’s why terpenes are such popular ingredients for shampoos and conditioners. Yet, cannabis terpenes can offer even more to our heads than their wonderful smells. For instance, studies have shown that beta-caryophyllene may be beneficial to the scalp [15].

Terpenes & body care

Terpenes are a great addition to body care products such as salves and massage oils because of their  effects after skin penetration, as well as their aromatherapy benefits. When these products also contain cannabinoids such as THC or CBD, the effects of the terpenes may be even more beneficial because of the entourage effect.

Closing thoughts on terpenes in cosmetic products

The cosmetic industry is just beginning to discover the enormous potential of cannabis-derived terpenes for skin care, decorative cosmetics, hair products, and cleansers. It’s becoming clear that adding terpenes to cosmetics is simply the next step in the evolution of restorative products for the body. 

The amazing benefits that terpenes lend to cosmetics are likely to make them even bigger stars in the ingredient lists than essential oils. Indeed, cosmetics are no longer just about making your body look and smell good. They’re becoming more about making you feel good too.


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a legal expert nor a medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpene
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care-cosmetics#understanding-makeup
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certificate_of_analysis
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8326332/#:~:text=Anti%2Dageing%20Activity,induced%20human%20skin%20photo%2Dageing
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entourage_effect
  6. https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/11/health/gupta-marijuana-entourage/index.html
  7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-of-the-parts-is-marijuana-rsquo-s-ldquo-entourage-effect-rdquo-scientifically-valid/
  8. https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/11/health/gupta-marijuana-entourage/index.html
  9. https://thecannabisindustry.org/committee-blog-safety-terpene-limits-in-cannabis-manufacturing/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18061886
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21250568/
  12. https://thecannabisindustry.org/committee-blog-safety-terpene-limits-in-cannabis-manufacturing/
  13. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2019.1582541
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8326332/#:~:text=Anti%2Dageing%20Activity,induced%20human%20skin%20photo%2Dageing
  15. https://cannabismd.com/beauty/hair/cannabis-terpenes-may-be-the-key-to-stopping-scalp-fungus/

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can terpenes be used topically?

Terpenes can be added to topical lotions, salves, ointments, and makeup to make them smell good and offer other potential benefits. However, it’s important to sufficiently dilute terpenes to avoid skin irritation. They should not be directly applied if undiluted.

What are the main terpenes in cannabis cosmetics?

Myrcene, alpha-pinene, and limonene are the some of the most prevalent cannabis terpenes. These can be safely and effectively added to cosmetic products.

What are botanical terpenes?

In a literal sense, botanical terpenes are all terpenes found in plants. However, in the cannabis industry the term often refers to non-cannabis terpenes.

What are synthetic terpenes?

Synthetic terpenes are formulated in a lab by chemical blending and manipulation.

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Do cannabis terpenes and beverages go together? We modern humans love to hover our noses over a fragrant beverage like wine or a gin gimlet, breathing in the scents and savoring the bouquet. But, what are we smelling, exactly? It turns out that many of these smells are the aromatic molecules called terpenes.

Cannabis edibles have been around for quite a while. Now, we can enjoy cannabis drinkables—beverages infused with cannabis compounds, including terpenes. With the ever-rising trend of cannabis products, the sky appears to be the limit when it comes to terpene infusions, whether they’re added to food, pharmaceuticals, topicals, or beverages.

Determined not to miss out on the latest cannabis trends, food and beverage companies have been quick to hop on the terpene train. Likewise, adventurous mixologists across the country stir up exciting new cocktails to serve their customers as more bar and restaurant patrons discover the joys of these novel drinks. Before long, we’ll likely be seeing more bottles of specially designed terpenes sitting alongside bitters, simple syrup, tonic, and alcohol as bartenders surprise customers and tantalize tastebuds with cannabis beverages.

How well do you know your terpenes?

From the pungent scent of a muddled mint leaf in a mojito to the burst of the sour aroma rising from a squeezed lemon, terpenes inhabit many of the plants involved in our daily activities and rituals. Without question, terpenes make our lives richer and more pleasurable. Thanks to them, we can experience countless different flavors in foods and beverages as well as experience the aromatherapy of a vast array of flowers and essential oils. But, what exactly are they?

At their core, terpenes are molecules responsible for protecting a plant. They serve the plant in this way by giving off scents that protect it from predators, as well as helping the plant attract pollinators. A particularly repellent smell, for instance, might help the plant stay out of the path of an animal who wishes to eat it. On the other hand, terpenes play a vital role in luring helpful insects to flowers to ensure the plant’s survival through pollination. Some of the most prominent terpenes in cannabis include alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, limonene, and myrcene.

Cannabis terpenes vs. botanical terpenes

Though all the terpenes in cannabis are technically botanically-derived, as cannabis is a plant, the cannabis industry has come to differentiate between cannabis-derived terpenes and botanical-derived (non-cannabis-derived) terpenes. Cannabis terpenes and botanical terpenes share many of the same terpenes. For example, linalool, a terpene in cannabis strains such as Suver Haze and Sour Special, is also in lavender, giving them similar scents.

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What are the health benefits of terpenes?

While we are far from fully understanding all the health benefits of terpenes, the minimal research thus far conducted has led to encouraging theories about how terpenes may potentially help us. For instance, the terpene eucalyptol, which is abundant in eucalyptus as well as some cannabis strains, is often added to cough and cold medicine to open up the airways [1]. While more studies need to be done to be certain, early studies suggest that limonene may produce benefits for people too [2].

When it comes to cannabis terpenes, there is some evidence to indicate that they play a powerful role in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by influencing the entourage effect [3]. The entourage effect was first coined by Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat in their 1998 hypothesis that proposed that other organic compounds work in tandem with the primary endogenous cannabinoids in cannabis, thereby enhancing their effects. This may indicate that terpenes taken with other cannabis compounds may affect the body differently than terpene isolates or cannabis products that are not full-spectrum.

An example of how terpenes may contribute to the entourage effect can be found in a study published recently in Science Daily. The study proposes that terpenes interact with other compounds in cannabis to uniquely affect the body’s cell receptors. The results from this University of Arizona Health Sciences study have inspired additional research for cannabis terpenes [3].

Can you get high on cannabis terpenes?

Arguably, cannabis terpenes work in the same way as essential oils do on your cell receptors. They affect taste and smell as well as contribute to other potential benefits, yet they are not psychoactive in and of themselves. Nonetheless, terpenes seem to affect the way that people experience the THC (psychoactive) or CBD (non-psychoactive) in cannabis.

Benefits of using terpenes in beverages

More brands are beginning to incorporate terpenes into their drinks because of their many benefits. Cannabis terpenes make great ingredients for beverages because:

  • They are all-natural
  • They work well in both hot and cold beverages
  • Cannabis can now be processed in a way that produces water-soluble terpenes
  • They do not add extra sugar or calories to beverages
  • People love the taste of cannabis
  • They are cost-efficient while offering exciting flavors
  • They work well with spirits
  • Multiple terpenes can be added to beverages for more complex flavors and designer terpene blends
  • They may enhance healthy drinks

What do terpenes taste like?

The variety of terpene scents and flavors in nature is practically infinite. In fact, any word that could describe the flavor of a fruit, vegetable, flower, or tree would be an apt way to describe what terpenes might taste or smell like. For instance, limonene is sometimes described as tasting citrusy, while linalool might be described as more floral. Pinene is often described as piney or earthy. Cannabis and fruits with beta-caryophyllene have been described as peppery or cinnamon-like. Much like a sommelier describing a wine, cannabis enthusiasts enjoy imaginative descriptions of their favorite terpene-infused products.

Cannabis terpenes and beverage and hemp leaf, Earthy Now logo

Drinks with terpenes

What is a cannabis beverage? Even the name is bound to get people’s attention. But, the taste of a terpene-infused drink will no doubt seal the deal for many cannabis lovers. For example, limonene and linalool can be added to juice to make drinks such as an edgy version of lavender lemonade. Or, the terpene extract of a cannabis strain like Cherry Soda could be added to a cocktail as an alternative to mixers such as herbal or orange bitters. Indeed, everyone who enjoys the smells and tastes of cannabis products is likely to find their perfect terpene-infused liquid refreshment, whether it’s a sports drink, cocktail, beer, tea, or soda.

Cannabis terpenes also make great “mocktails” because of their complex natural flavors. For instance, to achieve a piney flavor, you could add pinene to club soda or tonic. Or, if you want to make a sweet, cinnamony-flavored drink, beta-caryophyllene might be the best terpene to add. Enhance your terpene-infused mocktail with a splash of fruit juice for more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Are terpenes safe to use in beverages?

When the terpene extraction process is conducted properly, terpenes are safe to use in beverages, as long as they are sufficiently diluted. In diluted form (5% or less), terpenes are non-toxic [4].

The two main methods for terpene extraction are solventless and solvent-based extraction. Solventless extraction typically uses steam distillation or hydrodistillation, both of which use heat and water in the process. Solvent-based extraction is done at lower temperatures with hydrocarbons, gasses, and vacuums [5]. 

In order to preserve the pure aromas and flavors of terpenes, either process must be conducted carefully. Too much heat or pressure can lead to the breakdown of the terpene chemical structure, and improper solvent processing can leave unwanted substances. Thus, it’s important to buy high-quality terpenes from reputable companies like Earthy—products that are 100% cannabis-derived, all-natural, and strain-specific, with no additives.

Earthy uses organically grown, morning-harvested cannabis right from the field—never dried or frozen—for the freshest possible terpenes. Earthy’s solventless extraction and testing process maximizes potency and ensures purity and safety.

Terpenes in alcohol

Alcoholic beverages lend themselves well to terpene infusions. For instance, wines, beers, and many spirits contain their own natural botanical terpenes that may be enhanced with cannabis terpenes. Rose, citrus, pine, and mint are some of the common aromas associated with wine-tasting. By adding cannabis terpenes to wine, a whole set of new associations may be evoked, increasing the olfactory diversity of the wine.

In addition to wine, spirits such as tequila have plenty of natural terpenes found in the agave cactus from which it is made. What if cannabis terpenes were added to tequila, vodka, gin, or whisky? New trends involving these creative combinations are popping up every day [6].

Terpenes in beer

Recognizing the enormous potential of the terpene-infused beer niche market, many craft breweries have begun adding cannabis terpenes to their beverages as eager customers get in line for a taste. Craft beer pioneer Lagunitas Brewing Company, for example, was excited to participate in this trend, and in 2017 they launched Supercritical; a beer made with cannabis terpenes [7]. Likewise, New Belgium Brewing created The Hemperor beer that brewer Mark Koenigs describes as “dank, grassy, woody, spicy and green [8].”

Mixed drinks & beyond

There may have never been a more exciting time to be a mixologist. With restaurants and bars clamoring for the most sensational cocktail in town, cannabis-derived terpenes are poised to become the next coveted mixed drink ingredient.

A cocktail with a few drops of limonene, for instance, adds a pleasing citrus flavor and aroma. Myrcene will add an earthy, fruity scent with hints of mango and mint. Or, to add a spicy, clovey, or peppery quality to a cocktail, caryophyllene may be used.

Limonene may be the most common terpene currently used in mixed drinks. Cocktails that contain gin and orange bitters can benefit from limonene terpenes to reduce the bitterness of the orange. Likewise, the popular kombucha drinks often use limonene, as it counteracts the sharp flavor of the fermented tea [9].

Are terpenes legal to use in beverages?

If a company or individual uses cannabis terpenes extracted from federally compliant hemp in their beverages, they are acting in accordance with the law. The 2014 Farm Bill and 2018 Farm Bills allow people to research, produce, transport, sell, and consume hemp-derived products with less than .3% Delta-9 THC, making clear that these products, including terpenes, are federally-compliant [10].

On the other hand, marijuana—defined as cannabis containing more than .3%  Delta-9 THC—is still not federally legal, and products derived from them are not federally compliant. Many states have changed their laws to sanction medical and/or adult recreational of marijuana. However, the country as a whole has not caught up. Thanks to the Farm Bills, we all can enjoy the benefits of cannabis-derived terpenes and other goods produced from federally compliant hemp, a most famous example being cannabidiol, or CBD.

Final thoughts on terpenes and beverages

We all have a go-to beverage. For some, iced tea or coffee best quenches the thirst. Others fuel up with a sports drink before a workout or unwind with a beer after work. Sparkling water hits the spot any time of day for still others. If you’re in the beverage market though, you want to make sure people are reaching for your beverages on the shelves. Cannabis terpenes in beverages just might be the new magic that keep thirsty customers coming back for more.


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://www.trulieve.com/discover/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-a-phellandrene-and-its-benefits
  2. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-limonene
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210714110455.htm
  4. https://finestlabs.com/are-terpenes-safe/
  5. https://www.humboldtseeds.net/en/blog/how-are-terpenes-extracted/
  6. https://www.alcademics.com/2020/07/terpenes-and-tequila.html
  7. https://beveragedynamics.com/2020/06/22/terpenes-craft-beer/
  8. https://mountainx.com/food/beer-scout-hemp-beers-grow-more-popular-on-the-local-and-national-level/
  9. https://goldcoastterpenes.com/terpene-infused-beverages-what-are-they-and-how-to-make-them/#:~:text=Cocktails%20that%20contain%20gin%20and,and%20flavor%20to%20various%20beers
  10. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you add terpenes to water?

Yes, it only takes a few drops in a glass of water for a beverage to transform into a flavorful refreshment.

What are cannabis-derived terpenes?

Cannabis-derived terpenes are those that occur naturally in the cannabis plant.

What is the difference between terpenes and cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids like THC or CBD are largely responsible for the therapeutic, psychoactive, and medicinal effects of cannabis, whereas terpenes are primarily responsible for taste and smell.

 

Earthy Now High CBD Low THC Cannabis Smokes CBD cigarettes

With all the talk about cannabis-derived terpenes, you might even think they could get you high. But, the truth is, these aromatic chemical compounds are as innocent in that respect as essential oils like lavender or lemongrass. 

Be that as it may, terpenes play a powerful role in the way we experience cannabis. Terpenes interact with other compounds in cannabis to uniquely affect the body’s cell receptors. These effects have increasingly led people to use cannabis terpenes for numerous purposes.

Terpenes on the rise

As researchers continue to study the potential benefits of the terpenes found in cannabis, consumers find more reasons to love the aromatic natural chemicals. Biological responses to terpenes vary depending on the other cannabinoids present, as well as the cannabis strain consumed. Yet, they do not get you high. Terpenes work differently in the body than psychoactive chemical compounds.

Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, cannabis, which naturally contains Delta-9 THC, the single cannabinoid that is under federal-control, and the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. The amount of Delta-9 THC existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product—more on that below. 

Cannabis terpenes may be derived from hemp or marijuana. So, do terpenes get you high if they are marijuana terpenes? Again, the answer is no. 

Though cannabis with THC can get you high, this effect is not from the terpenes. The psychoactive effects that come from marijuana stem from the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Delta-9 THC is the best known of these, and new THC isomers including Delta-8 and Delta-10 are becoming mainstream.  

 

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Know your terpenes

Terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis. They are simply organic compounds found in many plants, and even some insects, which affect the way they smell and taste. Cannabis plants just happen to contain high concentrations of them.

Different botanical terpenes determine the characteristic aroma and taste of a plant. For instance, the common terpene linalool gives lavender its distinctive floral scent, or the terpene pinene contributes to the sharp, woody aroma of pine trees and rosemary.

Why are terpenes important?

In addition to making our flower gardens especially fragrant, terpenes play an evolutionary role. Namely, the scent of a plant can help it survive. As such, these chemical compounds can protect plants from being eaten by insects or other animals by giving off a repellent scent.

Pinene, for instance, which can be found in pine trees and the hops plant, is often added to insect repellents because of the way in which its smell keeps away a variety of insects [1]. On the other hand, terpenes may emit pleasing aromas to lure pollinators. For example, a floral terpene in a poppy helps it to attract insects for cross-pollination in order for it to reproduce [2].

Plant-derived terpenes serve the needs of the plant as well as offer potential therapeutic benefits to humans. For example, the terpene profile of a eucalyptus tree has been found to produce anti-inflammatory effects [3].

Cannabis vs. botanical terpenes

Although cannabis is technically botanical, as it is a plant, the cannabis industry often refers to terpenes that do not come from the cannabis plant as botanical terpenes. As more people learn about the commonly found terpenes in cannabis, consumers seek out new and exciting variations of them.

Select manufacturers like Earthy use the terpene trifecta (flavor, fragrance, and therapy) to formulate the most desirable and flavorful varieties of cannabis-derived terpenes while creating superior products such as pure oils, vapes, smokables, edibles, and topicals.

Terpenes from non-cannabis plants have been used to scent and flavor various types of goods since ancient times. Terpenes from both sources can also enhance cannabis products with their aromatic essences. For instance, CBD topicals, like Earthy’s Soothing Relief Salve, feature a full spectrum of cannabis terpenes along with those from essential oils like lemongrass, chamomile, and rosemary. 

Terpenes & the entourage effect

There is some evidence to indicate terpenes influence the entourage effect: the way in which cannabis compounds—like cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes—work synergistically to enhance the overall effect of the plant on the body [4].  

The entourage effect, in relation to cannabis, was first coined by Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat in their 1998 hypothesis that proposed other organic compounds work in tandem with the primary endogenous cannabinoids, thereby enhancing the effects of cannabis.

Part of the special relationship between cannabis and terpenes involves the entourage effect. “The entourage effect, “is a proposed mechanism by which cannabis compounds other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act synergistically with it to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant [4].” 

Other cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids may all play parts in the entourage effect, aiding the overall efficacy of the plant. Without it, some cannabinoids don’t seem to work in the same way. For instance, scientists have found that the mixture of all the components of the plant has different effects than isolated compounds. GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of one of the only sanctioned cannabis-based drugs Sativex (called Nabiximols in the U.S.), found that a whole plant extract was more effective than a single compound for certain therapies. Another researcher noted that single-component drugs like Marinol, a synthetic THC pill, have less therapeutic value than those with more cannabinoids [5]. 

Additionally, a study published in Science Daily suggests that terpenes may contribute to the entourage effect in relation to pain. The results from this University of Arizona Health Sciences study have inspired additional research for cannabis terpene pain therapies that would require lower doses and produce fewer side effects than other popular pain medications [6]. 

Still, research on the entourage effect is in its infancy and some scientists seek more data to be fully convinced [7]. However, many cannabis proponents lean on the existing data, as well as popular anecdotal notions of the entourage effect, and embrace the opportunity to create custom blends of terpenes and cannabinoids to offer consumers specifically designed effects [5].

 

Cannabis leaf in hand, Earthy Now logo. Do terpenes get you high

Can you get high on cannabis-derived terpenes?

A lot of people are asking the question: do terpenes get you high? The short answer is no. However, if you smoke, inhale, or ingest cannabis that contains Delta-8, Delta-9, or Delta-10 THC, the terpenes in the plant can affect the kind of high you may experience.

The reason for this is due to the ways in which terpenes may contribute to the entourage effect. In contrast to marijuana, non-psychoactive cannabinoids from hemp plants, like CBD, do not get you high, yet may still produce the entourage effect while involving the plant’s terpenes in this process.

Do terpenes get you high when they are isolated?

Though isolated cannabis-derived terpenes may mimic the effects of cannabinoids [6], as well as offer therapeutic benefits [7], they do not produce psychoactive effects in the brain. Recent studies have shown that terpenes may interact with the body’s cell receptors in a similar way as cannabinoids, even when isolated [8].

Are terpenes psychoactive?

Though cannabis terpenes are not psychoactive, they do influence the plant’s effect on the body and brain. Primarily, they affect the way a given plant smells and tastes. Yet, the specific terpenes present in various strains of cannabis, whether from psychoactive or non-psychoactive cannabinoids, may work alongside the cannabinoids to produce the entourage effect, which can influence the way your brain experiences the sensations caused by the plant.

The Farm Bill and hemp vs. marijuana terpenes

Marijuana and hemp both come from the cannabis plant, yet the law treats them quite differently. The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills established new federal legal definitions and rules for hemp, including the allowance that hemp “and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis” may be legally produced, sold, transported and used.

Put simply, cannabis with less than .3% Delta-9 THC is defined as hemp, while cannabis with more than .3%  Delta-9 THC is defined as marijuana. 

Marijuana and hemp both contain terpenes. However, the main difference between the two plants is the type of cannabinods traditionally associated with them. The most well-known cannabinoid in hemp is the non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol), whereas, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). But, Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, and even Delta-9 THC may be derived from federally compliant hemp. Both classifications of cannabis share many of the same terpenes, which is why they often have a similar smell and taste. However, you cannot get “high” from either hemp or marijuana terpenes. Their effects are synergistically mixed into the overall entourage effect.

The differences between the terpenes in cannabis depend on the strain of each plant in question. For example, some of the terpenes found in Indica strains—which can be either hemp or marijuana— are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, and humulene.

On the other hand, some of the terpenes in Sativa strains—also, either hemp or marijuana— are caryophyllene, d-limonene, myrcene, pinene, linalool, alpha-terpineol, and camphene. As such, some of these terpenes are the same as Indica strains, yet others are different, resulting in a different flavor and aroma. 

Ultimately, the smell and taste of the different strains of both hemp and marijuana can add to their therapeutic benefits. Just as essential oils like lavender might be used for therapeutic purposes, terpenes in both hemp and marijuana may serve a similar purpose.

How to enhance your high

Each strain of cannabis possesses its own signature of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. In turn, the terpene profile of each signature may serve to enhance your marijuana high or hemp experience by offering aromatherapy and other benefits.

For example, strains high in limonene are known for their mood-elevating properties [9]. Alternatively, strains high in myrcene are popular for their relaxing and sedative effects. Other strains high in both myrcene and limonene are lauded for their energizing effects [10]. In essence, the specific combination of terpenes in each strain can determine the nature of their enhancements.

Common terpenes in cannabis strains

The most common terpene in cannabis is myrcene. Other prevalent terpenes in cannabis include limonene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and ocimene.

It’s likely that certain strains have become popular in large part because of their terpene profiles. Lemon Kush and Canna Cake, for instance, are high in limonene; a terpene known for its mood-elevating qualities and lemony smell. Strains like Bubba Kush and GSC boast high amounts of beta-caryophyllene; a terpene with a spicy smell like black pepper or cinnamon, which has been associated with antimicrobial properties [10].

In contrast, the popular strain Cherry Soda is high in myrcene, which is known for helping users relax or become mildly sedated. Sour Diesel, another sought-after strain, is high in both myrcene and limonene and said to energize and uplift while smelling like diesel and lemon [10].

Another option is the Hawaiian Haze strain that features the alertness-promoting terpene pinene, which is said to be responsible for this effect while smelling fruity, earthy, and piney [10].

Final thoughts on terpenes and getting high

While marijuana is now legal in some states and medical marijuana in still more, cannabinoids from high-CBD, low THC cannabis are federally compliant for all states. So you can take full advantage of cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN, THC-V, Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10, along with all of cannabis’ terpenes and flavonoids to experience the benefits of a full spectrum entourage effect.

Though terpenes do not get you “high” in the psychoactive definition of the word, the sense of satisfaction, well-being, and calm you may feel from them could arguably make you high on life in a way that is even healthier.


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26209937/
  2. https://www.happysprout.com/gardening/cross-pollinate-flowers/#:~:text=Some%20fun%20flowers%20to%20cross,but%20hybrid%20flowers%20are%20not.
  3. https://eybna.com/terpene/eucalyptol-terpene-profile/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entourage_effect
  5. https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/11/health/gupta-marijuana-entourage/index.html
  6. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210714110455.htm
  7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-of-the-parts-is-marijuana-rsquo-s-ldquo-entourage-effect-rdquo-scientifically-valid/
  8. https://healthsciences.arizona.edu/newsroom/news-releases/2021/study-shows-cannabis-terpenes-provide-pain-relief-contribute-entourage#:~:text=Researchers%20in%20the%20Comprehensive%20Pain,produce%20similar%20pain%2Drelieving%20effects.&text=Terpenes%20are%20found%20in%20many,positive%20results%20in%20controlling%20pain
  9. https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/cannabis-strains-high-limonene-anxiety-stress-depression
  10. https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/top-cannabis-strains-and-terpenes

Frequently Asked Questions

What are botanical terpenes?

In a literal sense, botanical terpenes are all terpenes found in plants. However, in the cannabis industry the term often refers to non-cannabis terpenes.

What are synthetic terpenes?

Synthetic terpenes are formulated in a lab by chemical blending and manipulation.

How do I buy terpenes?

It’s important to buy high-quality terpenes from reputable companies like Earthy. The best terpenes are 100% cannabis-derived, all-natural, and strain-specific with no additives. Always look for a COA from a third-party lab. 

What is a COA?

A certificate of analysis (COA) is a document attesting to a product’s laboratory analysis for cannabinoids and in some cases adulterants, heavy metals and pesticides.It is a useful tool for cannabis producers and customers to ensure quality and trust.

 

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What are terpenes?

Curiosity about terpenes has lit up the cannabis scene recently with the influx of exciting new products into the mainstream. But, what are terpenes, and why should we care about them?

Terpenes are in our food, the flowers we smell, and, yes, the cannabis products we enjoy. They are simply organic compounds found in plants, and even some insects, which affect the way they smell and taste. Cannabis plants just happen to contain high concentrations of these aromatic compounds.

Different terpenes determine the characteristic aroma of a plant. For instance, the common terpene linalool gives lavender its distinctive floral scent, or the terpene pinene contributes to the woody, earthy aroma of pine trees and rosemary. In essence, the unique fragrance of a plant comes from the particular combination of terpenes that give off their respective scents.

What’s more, the scent of a plant can help it survive. Terpenes can protect plants from being eaten by insects or other animals by giving off a repellent scent [1]. On the other hand, terpenes may emit pleasing aromas to attract pollinators, like the terpene limonene in citrus fruits and other plants.

In the same manner, the distinctive terpene content of each cannabis strain works to assist in the plant’s survival by attracting or repelling friends and foes while endowing it with its distinctive smell and taste. Likewise, the hemp market has found that terpenes attract cannabis consumers to their favorite strains much like eager bees to the most fragrant flowers.

Terpenes vs. flavonoids

Like terpenes, flavonoids are not exclusive to the cannabis plant. They give plants their characteristic pigments. For instance, the flavonoid flavone creates the pigment in blue- and white-flowering plants like chamomile, peppermint, and parsley.

Flavonoids, like terpenes, help plants survive by warding off predators while attracting pollinators. However, flavonoids do not primarily affect smell and taste in the same manner as terpenes. Lucky for us, flavonoids provide powerful antioxidant properties, antibacterial properties, and cancer-fighting properties [2].

What are cannabis-derived terpenes?

Like other botanical-derived terpenes, cannabis terpenes give a cannabis plant its specific smell and taste. Additionally, cannabis terpenes may offer beneficial properties.

As regulations surrounding cannabis products become less strict, scientists continue to research the possible therapeutic benefits of terpenes. In the meantime, cannabis enthusiasts flock to their favorite smelling and tasting cannabis strains. Each strain contains its own distinctive terpene profiles and perks.

Botanical vs. cannabis terpenes?

Although cannabis is technically botanical, as it is a plant, the cannabis industry often refers to terpenes that do not come from the cannabis plant as botanical terpenes. As more people learn about the prominent terpenes in cannabis, terpene enthusiasts seek out new and exciting variations. Select manufacturers like Earthy use the terpene trifecta (flavor, fragrance, and therapy) to formulate the most desirable combinations of terpenes while creating superior products such as pure aromatic extracts, vapes, smokables, edibles, and topicals.

Prevalent terpenes from non-cannabis plants, on the other hand, can also enhance cannabis products with therapeutic essential oils. For instance, CBD topicals, like Earthy’s Soothing Relief Salve, feature essential oils like lemongrass, lavender, and rosemary with their own distinctive non-cannabis terpenes.

Types of cannabis terpenes: marijuana and hemp

Marijuana and hemp come from the cannabis plant. The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills (see next section) established new federal legal definitions and rules for hemp, including that hemp and “and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis” may be legally used for production, sales, transport, and use.

So, cannabis with less than .3% Delta-9 THC is defined as hemp, while cannabis with more than .3%  Delta-9 THC is defined as marijuana. 

Originating from the same plant, marijuana and hemp both contain terpenes. However, the main difference between the two plants is the type of cannabinoids associated with them. The most well-known cannabinoid in hemp is the non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol), whereas, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both types of plants share many of the same terpenes, which is why they often have a similar smell. However, you cannot get “high” from either hemp or marijuana terpenes. Their effects are chiefly therapeutic.

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Though there are more than 100 terpenes in each cannabis flower, whether it is hemp or marijuana, the most common terpenes in both are limonene, beta-pinene, ocimene, myrcene, linalool, delta-3-carene, eucalyptol, humulene, and beta-caryophyllene [3].

The differences between the terpenes in marijuana and hemp depend on the strain of each plant in question. For example, some of the terpenes found in Indica strains—which can be either hemp or marijuana— are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, and humulene. People have described these strains as smelling and tasting of cloves, or piney and skunky, which is primarily due to the myrcene

On the other hand, some of the terpenes in Sativa strains—also, either hemp or marijuana— are caryophyllene, d-limonene, myrcene, pinene, linalool, alpha-terpineol, and camphene. As such, some of these terpenes are the same as Indica strains, yet others are different, resulting in a different flavor. 

Ultimately, the smell and taste of the different strains of both hemp and marijuana can add to their therapeutic benefits. Just as essential oils like lavender might be used for anti-anxiety and therapeutic purposes, terpenes in both hemp and marijuana may serve a similar purpose.

Farm Bills and terpenes

The 2014 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of Schedule 1 substances, and was the seed of hemp’s recent resurgence. The Bill allowed long-forbidden research into hemp-derived cannabinoids to begin in earnest.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, allowing people to produce, sell, and consume hemp-derived products, making it clear to legal experts that all other plant materials and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant [4].

The passing of the Bills allowed for widespread hemp cultivation as long as the hemp grown had THC levels below .3 percent. Since then, a new wave of enthusiasm about hemp has spread across the U.S. as hemp farming, manufacturing, sales, and transport have increased. Along with these changes, exciting new products have entered the stage of the hemp market while more recently, common cannabis-derived terpenes have landed in the spotlight. Increasingly, both scientists and consumers discover more reasons to sing their praises.

Since Earthy terpenes do not contain THC or other drugs, they do not produce psychoactive effects. For this reason, their presence in products fully conforms to the guidelines of the Farm Bill.

Why are hemp-derived terpenes the future?

Without question, cannabis has a great deal to offer people. For instance, the medicinal properties of particular cannabinoids like CBD have become virtually incontrovertible. Additionally, with an increasingly deeper understanding of how terpenes work to enhance people’s experience of the plant, more people continue to seek them out in the products they buy.

Accordingly, hemp-derived terpenes will likely become even more popular as more people discover them, providing new opportunities for novel products with therapeutic effects.

Vapes, beverages, and cosmetics are prime examples of markets ripe for the addition of cannabis terpenes. Like essential oils, a few drops of terpenes can go a long way in transforming an otherwise humdrum product into something cutting-edge and exciting. Cannabis-derived terpenes are quickly becoming a key ingredient in everything from bath bombs to sports drinks. 

Along with the coveted CBD-infused products, cannabis terpenes are poised to usher in the next wave of cannabis innovation. 

Primary vs. secondary terpenes

In all cannabis strains, there are both primary and secondary terpenes. A primary terpene is a major component of the plant’s taste and aroma. Some common primary terpenes are pinene, limonene, humulene, and myrcene.

On the other hand, a secondary terpene will also influence the plant’s smell and taste, but less so. Common secondary terpenes include borneol, phytol, eucalyptol, and sabinene.

For many, the smell of a specific strain will prompt them to remember the experience of when they last used the product, evoking a similar feeling or expectation of how the plant will affect them each time. Most of what they perceive as the strain’s aroma comes from the primary terpenes, yet, the secondary terpenes, though more subtle, may still contribute to the overall smell and taste.

How do terpenes affect cannabis strains?

Put simply, a given terpene is what makes a strain smell or taste different from other strains. Additionally, they may add to the therapeutic effects. With a vast variety of strains on the market, the potential combinations of terpenes available to consumers are abundant.

Terpenes in essential oils

Terpenes are what give essential oils their specific aromas. Some of the most commonly found terpenes in essential oils are also found in cannabis. For example, the limonene found in cannabis is the same terpene present in bergamot, fennel, lemon, orange, and other citrus oils. Or, pinene, which is found in cannabis strains such as OG Kush and produces a woody aroma, is also found in coriander, cypress, eucalyptus, pine, black pepper, and oregano.

Essential oils have been used for their anti-inflammatory effects and anti-anxiety properties since ancient times and many are still popular today. For instance, tea tree oil is used for its antifungal properties. Sandalwood and chamomile can relieve skin inflammation, and lavender is popular for relaxation.

Like the botanical terpenes in essential oils, those found in cannabis have the potential to soothe, heal, and relieve the human body and mind.

Cannabis plant

How are terpenes made?

The two main methods for terpene extraction are solvent-based and solventless extraction. In order to preserve the pure aromas and flavors of terpenes, the process must be conducted carefully. Too much heat or pressure can lead to the breakdown of the terpene chemical structure.

Thus, it’s important to buy high-quality terpenes from reputable companies like Earthy—products that are 100% cannabis-derived, all-natural, and strain-specific, with no additives.

Earthy uses organically grown, morning-harvested cannabis right from the field—never dried or frozen—for the freshest possible terpenes. Earthy’s solventless extraction process maximizes potency and ensures purity in every bottle.

What are the effects of cannabis-derived terpenes?

Countless cannabis users have reported how terpenes enhance their experience of cannabis. Moreover, recent studies support many of these anecdotal findings. For instance, researchers found that extracted cannabis terpenes worked as an analgesic. The sensation of pain reduction was even more pronounced when the corresponding cannabinoids were added to the terpene dose.

The paper, “Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity,” was published recently in Scientific Reports, indicating that terpenes mimic the effects of cannabinoids.

Do terpenes get you high?

Terpenes do not get you high. However, they can affect how you feel. Like receiving a massage with lavender-scented oil, they can help you relax, calm your mind and body, and enhance your experience. They also may work alongside cannabinoids, and cannabinoid receptors, to elevate the effects of cannabis.

Cannabis-derived terpenes and the entourage effect

There is some evidence to indicate terpenes influence the entourage effect: the way in which cannabis compounds like cannabinoids work synergistically to enhance the overall effect on the body.

The entourage effect, in relation to cannabis, was first coined by Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat in their 1998 hypothesis that proposed other organic compounds work in tandem with the primary endogenous cannabinoids, thereby enhancing the effects of cannabis.

A study published recently in Science Daily suggests that terpenes contribute to the entourage effect. The results from this University of Arizona Health Sciences study have inspired additional research for cannabis terpene pain therapies that would require lower doses and produce fewer side effects than other popular pain medications.

Are cannabis-derived terpenes legal?

Yes. All hemp-derived terpenes are legal because they are from hemp and contain less than .3% Delta-9 THC. As long as terpene products conform to the guidelines, they are fully compliant with Farm Bill regulations and the law. They do not contain psychoactive properties and are allowed on the market. 

How do you use cannabis-derived terpenes?

The most common way that people utilize cannabis terpenes is when they are passed into the body through inhalation (vaping/smoking), absorption (topicals), or consumption (edibles/beverages).

However, terpenes that have been extracted can also be added to other products to affect the taste and aroma of that product. For example, cannabis terpenes can enhance a CBD massage oil, endowing it with an especially desirable smell.

Cannabis-derived terpenes in vapes

When you extract terpenes to flavor products like vapes, you are adding organic, safe scents that may also promote therapeutic benefits. That’s why cannabis terpenes are a preferable flavoring agent to either synthetic terpenes or artificial flavors.

Since every strain of cannabis Sativa contains a medley of different terpenes, each respective strain flavor is cultivar-specific. The terpenes present in Grape Ape, for example, will taste different from Sour Diesel because of its unique combination of terpenes. By extracting the terpenes present in a particular cannabis strain, it’s possible to replicate that strain’s unique flavor in a vape cartridge.

All things considered, cannabis terpenes are the best choice when it comes to naturally flavoring vape cartridges. Even cannabis terpenes, however, vary in quality, so it’s important to choose vape cartridges that include the best types of terpenes available on the market.

Cannabis-derived terpenes in beverages

It’s easy to add terpenes to beverages because extracted terpenes are water-soluble. It only takes a few drops in a glass of water for a beverage to transform into a flavorful refreshment. For an individual, 1-4 drops per 8 ounces of water is a good rule of thumb.

By contrast, in commercial enterprises such as restaurants or distilleries, terpenes can be added to large batches of beverages to enhance their flavors. Following the same approximate ratio, one ounce of terpenes could infuse many gallons of liquid.

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Cannabis-derived terpenes in cosmetics

The presence of botanical terpenes in cosmetics is ubiquitous. People love lotions that smell of essential oils like lavender or perfumes and shampoos that smell of mint or coconut. But, what about cannabis extract? Cannabis terpenes are relatively new on the cosmetics scene, yet have the potential for enormous popularity. As more people gravitate to their favorite cannabis terpene aromas, more customers demand their cosmetics include them.

Top 5 cannabis terpenes

Though there are hundreds of terpenes in cannabis, the five most prominent terpenes are myrcene, limonene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and ocimene

Myrcene

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. It gives off the mango-like, earthy, clove-like scent that has become a favorite of cannabis connoisseurs. If you notice a particular strain has a woodsy smell, myrcene is likely the culprit.

Also found in hops, myrcene is responsible for the peppery, balsam-like fragrance in beer. Lemongrass, which has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries, is another fragrant plant high in myrcene

Limonene

Both Sativa and Indica strains of cannabis express this citrusy terpene. The second most common terpene in nature and the third in cannabis, limonene is also found in oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and a host of other plants.

Pinene

One of the most researched terpenes in cannabis, pinene comes in two varieties: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. The former gives off a distinct aroma of pine needles and rosemary while beta-pinene smells more like dill, basil, and hops.

The most common terpene in the plant world, pinene is present in other plants such as basil, cedar, and conifer trees.

Beta-caryophyllene

Cannabis strains rich in beta-caryophyllene offer a warm, peppery smell and taste. Some describe the aroma as “spicy,” “cinnamon-like,” or reminiscent of “diesel.”

Beta-caryophyllene is abundant in many plants including black pepper, oregano, and basil.

Ocimene

High in many cannabis strains, ocimene is also in plants such as mint, basil, kumquats, mangos, orchids, and bergamot. Because of its sweet, fruity, and earthy aroma, it is used in everyday products like perfumes, fabric softeners, antiperspirants, and cleaners. Notwithstanding its pleasing scent to humans, many insects don’t like the scent of ocimene, making it an ideal insecticide. 

What are the best terpenes?

There are likely millions of answers to questions about which terpenes are the best. These answers boil down to an individual’s subjective idea about which strains smell and taste the best and how it affects their experience.

However, particular terpenes have been linked to specific benefits. Beta-caryophyllene, for instance, is sometimes associated with restful sleep, whereas pinene fans often claim it helps with focus and energy. Other cannabis users insist that limonene is the best because it helps them relieve stress. Ultimately, the best way to choose your favorite terpenes is to try out certain strains and then determine which you prefer.

How do you buy cannabis-derived terpenes?

It’s important to buy high-quality terpenes from reputable companies like Earthy which are 100% cannabis-derived, all-natural, and strain-specific with no additives.

Do terpenes have THC?

Earthy Terpenes do not contain THC. Thus, they do not produce psychoactive effects. However, the terpene content of a particular strain of cannabis may influence the entourage effect by interacting with or mimicking cannabinoids to elevate a user’s experience.

Final thoughts on cannabis-derived terpenes

As consumers find more things to love about cannabis-derived terpenes, companies that sell hemp-related products find new and innovative ways to enhance their merchandise with the aromatic ingredients. Ultimately, there will be a lot more than pollinators swarming around the best-smelling terpenes. Anyone who loves the scents and sensations of hemp is bound to see what all the fuss is about. 


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-are-terpenes
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-flavonoids-everything-you-need-to-know#sources
  3. https://www.alchimiaweb.com/blogen/marijuana-terpenes-effects/
  4. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are terpenes safe?

Yes, terpenes are safe when produced and used correctly.

What are synthetic terpenes?

Synthetic terpenes are formulated in a lab by chemical blending and manipulation.

What are the main terpenes in OG Kush?

Caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene.

What are the main terpenes in Sour Diesel?

Caryophyllene, d-Limonene, Myrcene, L-beta-Pinene, Linalool, L-alpha-Pinene, alpha-Terpineol, and Camphene.

What are the most common cannabis-derived terpenes?

Myrcene, limonene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and ocimene.

 

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​​People are loving CBD’s effect on how they feel, and science is recognizing the healing power of this humble and mighty chemical. In this complete Guide to CBD we’ll explore this popular cannabinoid in all its glory. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural substance that is practically causing a revolution in self care and medicine. It’s changing how people think about high-CBD, low-THC cannabis and hemp-derived products, and cannabis itself.

What is CBD? 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are simply “chemical compounds of cannabis that have an effect on the human body when the plant is consumed [1].” 

The cannabis plant has around 540 chemical substances, and over 100 are cannabinoids [2]. CBD was discovered in 1940 and is one of hundreds of identified cannabinoids in the plant. It is often the most prevalent compound in cannabis, along with THC [3].

What’s the Difference Between CBD and THC?

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are both naturally-occurring cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. THC is the main psychoactive component of the plant, and the part that can make people feel “high” or intoxicated. CBD is not psychoactive and is used for therapeutic effects of its own. 

Have you ever wondered why cannabis affects us? When a person uses cannabinoids, they interact chemically with the human endocannabinoid system. Let’s learn more about it.

What is the endocannabinoid system? 

The effects of CBD are possible because of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). It has evolved to create and use cannabinoids in our body’s processes. The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system which is integral for maintaining health. Its receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells of the human body [4]. 

Scientists discovered the ECS in the 1990s and it’s still being researched. It appears to be involved in regulating physiological and cognitive processes, immune system activities, appetite, pain-sensation, and much more [5]. 

More clinical data will be informative as science has more opportunities to study the therapeutic benefits of active ingredients in the cannabis / hemp plant.

Cannabinoids seem to act as neurotransmitters that affect the endocannabinoid receptors’ response action throughout the human body, meaning how the receptors take in, use, and react to the cannabinoid chemistry. ​​

Does the human body produce cannabinoids?

Yes, endocannabinoids are chemicals that are naturally produced by the human body. The prefix “endo” means “within,” ie, within the human body [6].

What plants produce cannabinoids?

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids from plants. “Phyto” means plant. The cannabis sativa plant and cannabis indica plant are the major known source of phytocannabinoids. Other plants do produce substances that effect the ECS as well [7].

Cannabimimetic compounds are compounds from common plants that act like cannabinoids but have different structures. Some everyday examples include coneflower (Echinacea), black pepper and rosemary. [8].

Read more about the Top 10 Common Cannabinoids.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

The human body is full of endocannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids bind with the receptors, initiating action by the ECS. There are two main types of endocannabinoid receptors, which are CB1 and CB2 [5].

  • CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system, in major brain regions that “mediate a wide variety of high-order behavioral functions, including learning and memory, executive function decision making, sensory and motor responsiveness, and emotional reactions, as well as feeding and other homeostatic processes [9].”
  • CB2 receptors are mostly found in the peripheral nervous system and are associated with the immune system [9].

Cannabinoids have different abilities to cause or inhibit reactions at the two types of receptor, and how they do so will determine the effects. Effects are also determined by the area of the body where the binding of the receptor takes place, and other factors [10].

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What does “hemp-derived” mean?

Hemp-derived means made from hemp, sometimes called industrial hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill (see next section) established new federal legal definitions and rules for hemp, including that hemp and “and any part of that plant” may be used for production, sales, transport, and use. Hemp and hemp derivatives include cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN). When they come from hemp, these and other cannabinoids are federally-compliant for use in inhaleable, edible, and topical products.

What is the Farm Bill and does it make CBD legal? 

CBD comes from the cannabis plant.

For many years in the United States, cannabis was illegal whether or not it contained THC. In the 2010s, the United States Congress enacted two groundbreaking pieces of legislation, called “Agricultural Acts” and commonly known as the Farm Bills. 

The 2014 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the list of Schedule 1 substances and was the seed of hemp’s resurgence. The Bill made it federally legal and allowed long-forbidden research into hemp-derived cannabinoids to begin in earnest.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this, making it clear to legal experts that all other plant materials and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are also federally-compliant [11]. 

The Farm Bill defines hemp as “Hemp.–The term `hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

The Farm Bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule of Controlled Substances. The DEA says “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse [12]”

This is an unfortunate misperception. In the United States, a decades-long racially-motivated prohibition on cannabis [13], meant that research with the cannabis plant was and is still largely forbidden.

Now that better access to information is available, there is a rush of hemp-derived CBD products coming to market. 

Does CBD have health benefits?

CBD users report improvements and there is no shortage of recommendations from wellness professionals.

There are both nonprescription CBD products and CBD prescription drugs on the market for consumers.

Are there neuroprotective properties to a CBD product? It’s possible. Let’s look at the government approved CBD medicine.

Does the US Government approve CBD as a medicine? 

Yes and no. There is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved version of CBD, called Epidiolex, available by medical prescription from a healthcare provider. According to the manufacturer, “Epidiolex is a prescription medicine that is used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older [14].”

It comes as a clear, colorless to yellow liquid containing cannabidiol at a concentration of 100 mg/mL, and includes the inactive ingredients: dehydrated alcohol, sesame seed oil, strawberry flavor, and sucralose [15]. This sounds quite different from a product with “no currently accepted medical use.” People may not associate cannabis plants with prescription drugs, but there is a clear connection if CBD oils and even medical marijuana are so prevalent.

Since the Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived CBD, we can thankfully all access the benefits of CBD. 

Where is hemp-derived CBD legal? 

All hemp-derived cannabinoids are federally-compliant based on the 2018 Farm Bill, so long as they contain less than .3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight. This means that CBD is not a federally-controlled substance if it is from hemp, and it contains less than .3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight. 

Most states are embracing CBD within their borders, and a few others have not caught up. Those states may have contradictory regulations, or even a lack of clear CBD laws or information that is confusing. 

It’s clear that the federal government allows hemp and hemp-derived CBD products coast-to-coast and will not limit their transportation across state lines. But states still have the ability to limit CBD or other cannabinoids within their borders. Additionally, there can be different levels of regulation for retail hemp operations and for wholesale hemp growers, transporters, and processors.

Operators on the wholesale side of things may be allowed to make and sell products and concentrations that are not allowed to be sold at retail. Retail stores may not be allowed to sell certain cannabinoids or products but this is not the same as banning citizens’ possession of those products. 

Is CBD medical marijuana?

CBD may have medical value, but CBD is not the same as medical weed. In states with medical or recreational adult use policies, the laws that govern marijuana are usually separate from hemp programs and overseen by different agencies.

In some states, a marijuana program may not allow CBD hemp products to be sold in marijuana dispensaries, but this does not mean that CBD is illegal in that state. It may mean the products are not sellable due to their tax status or other reasons that don’t fit with the marijuana program guidelines. 

What are the effects of CBD? 

CBD can produce a range of effects from clear-headed alertness & energy to calm & relaxation, without intoxication. Will it help with issues like chronic pain? It is possible and some may already say yes due to personal experience. However, medical studies may not be available yet due to marijuana prohibition, but there is much more to learn.

The strength of the effects on a particular person will be different depending on a few things: the dosage level, body weight, food or other substances in the system, personal body chemistry, and experience level with cannabis products.

Since it is not psychoactive, users can enjoy CBD’s benefits without worrying about marijuana safety and side effects. There are 3 different varieties of CBD to be familiar with: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and THC-free. Let’s look at those next. 

What’s the difference between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate? 

All CBD contains substances from the cannabis plant, but the different cannabidiol extracts vary in what exact substances they contain. Those substances determine what kind, and how much, of an effect the CBD can produce. 

Full-spectrum CBD contains multiple components of the plant—remember it has over 500 chemicals and over 100 phytocannabinoids. These include CBC, CBDA, CBDV, CBG, CBGA, CBN, THCV, and other minor cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD includes trace amounts of THC, but federally legal full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD products have less than 0.3 percent THC. 

Broad-spectrum CBD does not contain THC, but It does contain other substances. These usually include CBC, CBDA, CBDV, CBG, CBN, THCV, and other minor cannabinoids.  

CBD isolate is pure CBD and contains no other compounds found in cannabis, except for the CBD itself [16].

The next section will look at what happens when all the various substances from the hemp plant work together in a CBD product.

What Is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect refers to the components of the plant working together to boost or intensify the benefits of hemp-derived CBD [17]. In full-spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD, the active substances work together to enhance the effects of each individual cannabinoid, to make the effects better together.

This form of cannabinoid synergy is better known as the entourage effect. The exact chemical mechanism is not yet fully understood but with so many compounds in the full plant, it is reasonable that they are intimately connected and have evolved to work together. 

How do you buy high quality CBD?

Buying high quality CBD from a trusted producer is the best way to have success with your CBD regimen. Knowledge is power. The processing standards of CBD are crucial for its quality, safety and legality. Poor manufacturing processes may lead to degradation of the compound, inaccurate potency, or even residual solvents.

You should only purchase CBD from producers who provide a certificate of analysis (COA) for each product. A COA is a document attesting to a product’s laboratory analysis for cannabinoids and in some cases adulterants, heavy metals and pesticides. 

For best reliability, producers should use third party testing and be transparent about the results. Labs that are registered with the DEA and International Standards Organization (ISO) and other regulating entities are familiar with federal regulations and can be trusted to ensure federal-compliance with CBD and other hemp-derived products. 

How much CBD should you take?

CBD dosages can vary depending on the person, product, and circumstances. While most products have a suggested dosage listed on each package, the strength of the effects on a particular person will be different depending on a few things: the dosage level, body weight, food or other substances in the system, personal body chemistry, and experience level with cannabis products.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that you start with the lowest dose and gradually increase it until you reach satisfactory results. Consult your healthcare provider with specific questions about using any therapeutic products.

What are the most popular CBD products?

There are so many products out there, it may depend on who and where you ask. CBD oil is definitely a top category. It’s easy to use and control the dose and doesn’t require anything additional to administer. Thanks to the Farm Bill, a product like CBD oil is not part of any national controlled substances act.

What is CBD oil?

CBD Oil is a dense viscous oil for oral consumption. It is often recommended to be used sublingually, or under the tongue. A carrier is an important component to make CBD oils easier to use. It is blended with a substance like CBD to “carry” the ingredients and affects how the oil looks and tastes. There are different carrier oils with different properties.

What Is MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat.

MCT molecules are smaller than those in most edible fats and that makes them easier to digest and absorb in your bloodstream quickly [18]. Cannabidiol extracts sold online by Earthy Now use all natural and organic MCT derived from coconut.

Guide to CBD closing thoughts

CBD products are here to stay and innovations using CBD and other cannabinoids will continue to delight us as we expect that CBD, medically reviewed, will yield infinite health benefits. It is important to remember that laws will also continue to change as all of America learns to accept and love cannabis.

Even if the benefits of CBD products are clear, you should be aware of the laws where you live, or where you’re visiting, before purchasing or using hemp-based products containing CBD, CBG or CBN. 

If you are interested in federally compliant, hemp derived Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC or Delta-10 THC you should read Is Delta-8 THC Legal in Your State?

 


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

 

References

  1. https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/4237/cannabinoids
  2. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidiol
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/
  5. https://www.earthynow.com/cannabis-and-the-endocannabinoid-system/
  6. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/endocannabinoid
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931553/
  8. https://cannpal.com/pet-owner/phytonutrients/cannabimimetics/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/
  10. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/cbg-the-mother-of-all-cannabinoids-with-broad-antibacterial-activity/95824/
  11. https://thehia.org/hia-position-statement-on-delta-8-and-hemp-cannabinoids/
  12. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/
  13. https://www.britannica.com/story/why-is-marijuana-illegal-in-the-us
  14. https://www.epidiolex.com/
  15. https://www.rxlist.com/epidiolex-drug.htm
  16. https://www.healthline.com/health/full-spectrum-vs-broad-spectrum-cbd#comparison
  17. https://www.cbdmd.com/blog/post/difference-between-full-spectrum-and-broad-spectrum-cbd
  18. https://www.webmd.com/diet/mct-oil-health-benefits-common-uses

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a COA?

A CoA is a document that shows a product’s laboratory analysis for cannabinoids and in some cases adulterants, heavy metals and pesticides. It can be an important tool for assessing a health supplement or herbal supplements.

Will CBD products show up on a drug test?

There is a risk of failing a drug test. It depends on the type of CBD product one is using.

Drug tests for marijuana generally identify THC or its metabolites. Although tests do not screen for CBD, full spectrum CBD products contain low quantities of THC that can make a person fail a drug test. If you anticipate taking a drug test, we suggest checking with your employer or test administrator for clarity prior to taking full spectrum CBD products.

Is it legal to send CBD products through the mail?

Yes, but even though these products are federally-compliant and OK to ship, individual states may have their own regulations about purchasing or using hemp-based products, and these are subject to change. You should check your state and local rules before ordering. We ship nationwide.

Earthy Now High CBD Low THC Cannabis flower

Top ten common cannabinoids

If you start paying attention to certificates of analysis (COA), you’ll see the top 10 common cannabinoids more often than others. Marijuana plants, also known as cannabis plants, have around 540 chemical substances, and over 100 are cannabinoids [1].

What are cannabinoids? 

Cannabinoids are simply “the chemical compounds of cannabis that have an effect on the human body when the plant is consumed [2].” They can have a lot of effects. Let’s first look at how that works. 

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The effects are made possible because of the human endocannabinoid system that has evolved to create and use cannabinoids in our physiological processes.

It is a complex cell-signaling system which is integral for maintaining health. Its CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system, in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells of the human body [3].

Major cannabinoids may appear more often on COAs because they are naturally more abundant in the plant matter that created a product, or because they have been added as distillate or isolate during production.

Here are the 10 of the most abundant cannabinoids that appear on cannabis strains’ COAs, and what you should know about them. 

Top 10 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant

CBD

Cannabidiol (ka-nə-bə-ˈdī-ȯl) 

CBD is a cannabinoid discovered in 1940. It is often the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis— THC and CBD are the top 2. CBD does not produce psychoactive effects like THC, and may even change THC’s effects on the body when both are present [4]. Check out our Guide to CBD for more info! 

When interacting with the endocannabinoid system, CBD does not bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. Rather, it interacts indirectly with the receptors through transient receptor potential vanilloid, or TRPV1 receptors [5].

There is interest and research in CBD related to anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain, but more high-quality evidence that it is effective may be needed before it is available more widely for these purposes [4].

There is also a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved version of CBD, called Epidiolex, available by medical prescription for use in treating seizures [6].

A common and easy way to use CBD is CBD Oil, and Earthy Now offers many varieties of Full-Spectrum, High-CBD, Low-THC Cannabis Oil.


CBG

Cannabigerol (kə-ˈna-bə-’ger-ȯl) 

CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in trace amounts in harvested and processed cannabis. Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) is the precursor of cannabigerol (CBG), and is responsible for creating most downstream synthesized cannabinoids like THC and CBD [7].

Because of this CBG is lovingly called the “mother of all cannabinoids,” but since most of the CBGa is converted into cannabinoids, traditionally there is very little left in the plant upon harvest and use.

Therefore CBG has a high production cost and it can actually take thousands of pounds of biomass to yield a small amount of CBG isolate [8]. A 2018 study indicates that CBG is a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling [9], so it may have a small part to play in much of human physiology. 


CBN

Cannabinol (kə-ˈna-bə-nȯl) 

CBN is a cannabinoid found in low concentration in the cannabis plant and is mainly a product of the aging of tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa). In aged cannabis, THCa in the plant converts to cannabolic acid (CBNa), and when decarboxylated by air, heat or light, converts to CBN [10].

CBN is sometimes considered to have psychotropic properties [11], and can have up to 25% potency compared to Delta-9 THC [12].

It is reported that CBN is sedative but proper studies are scarce [11]. CBN has shown potential related to many medical properties, but again, more studies and data are needed before these are borne out as predictable distinct effects [12].


CBC

Cannabichromene (kə-ˈna-bə-ˈkrō-mēn) 

CBC is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in low to levels in cannabis. It reportedly does not affect the psychoactivity of THC, but does seem to have a different effect if THC is present [12]. Like CBD, CBC works through TRPV1 receptors and by stimulating CB2 receptors, but does not have significant activity at CB1 receptors [12]. CBC has been studied for its pharmacological uses [13], and is said to have significant pharmacological potential for medical benefits based on existing research [12].


CBDV

Cannabidivarin (kə-ˈna-bə-ˈver-ən) 

CBDV is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in low levels in cannabis [14]. It interacts with the body in various ways including via TRP receptors and CB1 receptors, the latter by affecting how the endocannabinoid system processes and modulates certain chemicals [12]. There is not much data available about CBDV’s medical uses, but it has shown potential as a tool against seizures, perhaps an even better one than CBD [12]. 


∆9 THC

Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (ˈdel-tə |ˈnīn | te-trə-hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˌnȯl) 

∆9 THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and was discovered in 1964. It is often the most prominent compound in cannabis plants, but THC levels vary quite a bit. Read the Guide to hemp derived Delta-9 THC for more info.

The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills revised the definitions of hemp and marijuana. Now, cannabis with less than .3% Delta-9 THC is considered hemp, and cannabis with more than .3% Delta-9 THC is federally considered marijuana.

Prior to the revised definition of hemp, the word “THC” used alone often referred to ∆9 THC, even though there are other types of THC (see below).

∆9 THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system via CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, some of which are located throughout the body including parts of the brain that affect “thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and movement [15].” THC has been widely studied and used for medical reasons [19]. Nabiximols, aka trade name Sativex, is a medical preparation of THC, made by GW Pharmaceuticals [16]. It is available for prescription in 25 countries, and is being tested for use in the United States [17].  


∆8 THC

Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (ˈdel-tə |ˈāt | te-trə-hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˌnȯl) 

∆8 THC occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but in low quantities. It has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, and Delta-9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain. This small distinction is enough to produce slightly different cognitive and physical effects [18]. Research in 1973 compared Delta-8 to Delta-9 THC and reported that Delta-8 produced effects similar to Delta-9, at a third less potency [19].

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) additionally stated that Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects, similar to Delta-9 THC, and that concentrated amounts of Delta-8 THC are typically manufactured from hemp-derived CBD [20]. Modern Delta-8 products have been called “marijuana-light” and “diet weed” which aligns with these findings.

Purchase premium Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 from our friends at Earthy Select


∆10 THC

Delta-10-Tetrahydrocannabinol (ˈdel-tə |ˈten | te-trə-hī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˌnȯl)

∆10 THC is another cannabinoid that occurs in low levels in cannabis. Following the pattern, it has its double bond on the 10th carbon chain, and is reported to have similar but lower intensity effects to Delta-9. Delta-10 has been described as a mood-enhancer [21]. Not much data is available on the effects of Delta-10 on the body. Delta-10 THC is not easy to manufacture and must be refined extensively, so you usually don’t see it in abundance. Because of this, a lot of products combine Delta-10 with Delta-8 [22]. 


THCA

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (te-trə-ˌhī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-nȯl-ˈik |ˈa-səd)

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the non-psychoactive acidic precursor to THC found in raw and live cannabis. “In its natural state, the cannabis plant goes through a vegetative and then flowering stage where it produces cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the source of many therapeutic cannabinoids. Enzymes called synthases convert CBGA into THCA and other cannabinoids such as CBDA or CBCA before being converted to their parent compounds [23].” As the plant dries, the THCA slowly converts to THC, and heat expedites this conversion through a process known as decarboxylation [24].

THCA may indeed have therapeutic benefits but academic studies are limited. Research published in 2017 found that THCA’s clinical use may be hampered by its relative instability due to minimal binding affinity at CB1 [25]. On the other hand, there is interest from the industry in continuing research and developing applications for this common cannabinoid. 


THCV

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (te-trə-ˌhī-drə-kə-ˈna-bə-ˈver-ən)

THCV is found in cannabis alongside THC but it is not clear whether it is psychoactive [26]. THCV interacts with the endocannabinoid system via the CB1 receptor and to a lesser extent, on the CB2 receptor [27]. A theory is that since THCV can block the CB1 receptor, known to stimulate appetite, it could reduce appetite. Preliminary evidence for this is based on animal research and more published scientific studies may be needed to support these benefits in humans [26].

Parting thoughts on the 10 most abundant cannabinoids

Now you know more about THC and CBD and the other cannabinoids native to cannabis cultivars, some with psychoactive properties and some without. Cannabinoid research continues.

These and additional important cannabinoids hold massive potential for medicinal benefits and prescription medications. Medicinal properties based on the cannabinoids present in a consumer product will need to be assessed for anti inflammatory properties, neuroprotective properties, antidepressant effects, efficacy against chronic pain and other health benefits.


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  2. https://www.maximumyield.com/definition/4237/cannabinoids
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidiol
  5. https://myremedyproducts.com/what-are-cb1-and-cb2-receptors-and-how-does-cbd-work-with-them/
  6. https://www.epidiolex.com/
  7. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/cbg-the-mother-of-all-cannabinoids-with-broad-antibacterial-activity/95824/
  8. https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/cbg-vs-cbd-what-are-the-differences-312232
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021502/
  10. https://deltaseparations.com/how-to-extract-cbn-oil-cannabinoil/
  11. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-vs-cbn#cbn-benefits-uses
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1054358917300273
  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabichromene#cite_note-Turner2017-2
  14.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidivarin
  15.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabinol
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabiximols
  17. https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/news-posts/2020/11/05/sativex-nabiximols-phase-3-trial-cannabis-extract-treatment-ms-spasticity-opens-us/
  18. https://www.hempgrower.com/article/delta-8-cannabidnoid-how-its-made-extraction-testing-measuring/
  19. https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cpt1973143353
  20. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc
  21. https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol-thc-infinitecal-acs-laboratory/
  22. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-delta-10
  23. https://blog.lunatechequipment.com/thca-isolate
  24. https://originalfarm.com/what-is-thca/
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5510775/
  26. https://www.healthline.com/health/substance-use/thcv#effects
  27. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrahydrocannabivarin

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will CBD products show up in a drug test?

There is a risk of failing a drug test. It depends on the type of CBD product one is using.

Drug tests for marijuana generally identify THC or its metabolites. Although tests do not screen for CBD, full spectrum CBD products contain low quantities of THC that can make a person fail a drug test. If you anticipate taking a drug test, we suggest checking with your employer or test administrator for clarity prior to taking full spectrum CBD products.

Is it legal to send CBD related products through the mail?

Yes, but even though cannabinoids and their products are federally-compliant, individual states may have their own regulations about purchasing or using hemp-based products and cannabinoids, and these are subject to change. You should check your state and local rules about THC and CBD before ordering. Earthy ships nationwide.

Are hemp products safe? 

Yes, cannabinoids and hemp derived products are safe when they are produced with proper and safe practices.

What does “hemp-derived” mean?

Hemp-derived means made from hemp, sometimes also referred to as industrial hemp. The Farm Bills established new federal legal definitions and rules for hemp, including that hemp and “and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis” may be used for production, sales, transport, and use. 

Will CBD products show up in a drug test?

There is a risk of failing a drug test. It depends on the type of CBD product one is using.

Drug tests for marijuana generally identify THC or its metabolites. Although tests do not screen for CBD, full spectrum CBD products contain low quantities of THC that can make a person fail a drug test.

If you anticipate taking a drug test, we suggest checking with your employer or test administrator for clarity prior to taking full spectrum CBD products.

How do I know how much is the correct dosage?

While products have a suggested dosage listed on each package, the strength of the effects on a particular person will be different depending on a few things: the dosage level, body weight, food or other substances in the system, personal body chemistry, and experience level with cannabis products.

High CBD, low THC cannabis can produce a range of effects from clear-headed alertness & energy to calm & relaxation.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that you start with the lowest dose and gradually increase it until you reach satisfactory results. Consult your healthcare provider with specific questions about using any therapeutic products.

The certificate of analysis (COA) has become a common document in the world of cannabis business and technology. It is a sign that hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD are common in most of the country, including states without organized medical or adult use cannabis programs. This article will look at what a COA is all about.  

What is a COA?

You can find them on the website of every seed producer, retailer, and wholesaler of cannabis products: a specific form, or certificate, that is a database representing a particular product’s chemical basis. Database just means that it holds and presents information.

The layout and details of a certificate of analysis may vary, but the purpose is the same. It is a document associated with a cannabis derived product, “attesting to its laboratory analysis for cannabinoids and in some cases adulterants, heavy metals and pesticides, mold, etc. [1].” 

That’s the scope we are concerned with in this article, but the word COA is applicable to more than cannabis products. Generically, it is ”a document containing test results that are provided to the customer by the supplier to demonstrate that product meets the defined test [2].” As such it could be used as a proof of specifications for any product, but it is generally associated with manufactured products like food, chemicals, research products, and pharmaceuticals. The COA benefits customers and producers alike.

Note that it can also mean certificate of authenticity, which is a similar proof or way to address confirmation of a product’s source of manufacturer. A certificate of authenticity may then be associated with consumer goods, computer software or hardware, art, antiques, sports memorabilia, collectible items, etc.

So the COA ensures a certain quality of produced goods, it is a quality assessment to make sure that the purity, potency and safety of the product from a manufacturer is within its specification range. A COA may seem to be primarily customer-facing but it benefits customers and producers alike. Customers and producers can both have confidence that what is claimed on the packaging is in fact true, connecting both parties to measurable standards on which to base business and interaction. 

What should be on a COA? 

A certificate of analysis can come in a variety of formats but generally includes similar identifiable features. We can break them down to three basic components: first the top or header section, second the body section, and third the bottom or footer section of a COA. 

Typically a COA form will have a top section to identify the lab doing the testing, the name of the company whose product is being tested, the product sample that is being tested, and a particular batch identifier. A date of testing, or a date of issuance of the COA, is also common. 

Skipping to the bottom, the end of the COA or footer area will usually have info about the testing facility. This can include the lab’s official seals or signatures of approval, and/or elements like address, contact info, licenses, notes, and disclaimers. 

The header and footer of the form contain crucial identification and functional elements that make the COA official and operational. If a QR code (quick response code) is included it may be in the header or footer too. QR codes are simply barcodes that have fast machine readability by smart phone cameras, so they have become popular linking tools since their invention in 1994 [3].

What is a COA lab equipmentReading results on a COA

The body of the COA has the information about what was tested for, a chemical for example, and shows what the results of the tests actually were. Cannabinoid potency is very often the first set of results on the COA. Results of most interest, like potency or “total THC” or “total CBD,” may also be included as a sidebar or separate area. You should see many of the top 10 common cannabinoids represented on the COA. Each cannabinoid found in the sample will be listed, generally in order of amount found, highest to lowest.

LOD and LOQ

Each compound’s line will have a LOD and LOQ number. Limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantitation (LOQ) are parameters used to validate analytical methods [4]. 

LOD is the smallest amount of concentration of an analyte in the sample that can reliably be distinguished from zero. 

LOQ is the lowest concentration of the analyte that can be determined with an acceptable repeatability and trueness.

These two measurements work together to establish a signal-to-noise ratio—in overly basic terms, to determine what amount of a compound is minimally-measurable, vs. the ability of the instrument to accurately minimally-measure said compound [5]. Suffice it to say that LOD and LOQ are important testing factors in lab analysis and COAs. 

Some COAs also include a measurement of uncertainty, letting you know the variability of a test’s accuracy. This is generally expressed as a “plus/minus” amount or percentage. The actual measurement may be above or below the listed measurement by the acknowledged amount. 

Mass vs. percent 

Results for each cannabinoid or other compound will commonly be given in a measured amount of weight, and in percentage of the total product weight of tested samples. Both are important, and especially for certain hemp derived cannabinoids. 

Now you know about COAs

COAs keep producers and consumers on the same page regarding what is and isn’t in each product. Computer software technology speeds up the testing and dissemination of the data, giving retailers and end consumers easy access to information about which cannabinoids and other compounds are present in a product. 

You can now use your knowledge to explore the COAs of your favorite products in more depth, and to be better informed about future products. 


Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a lawyer or a legal expert, nor a doctor or medical expert. You should check with your local authorities and medical providers before buying or using any products.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certificate_of_analysis
  2. https://asifood.com/food-safety-terms-conditions/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code
  4. https://bitesizebio.com/48459/excel-lod-loq/
  5. https://juniperpublishers.com/omcij/pdf/OMCIJ.MS.ID.555722.pdf

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to send CBD related products through the mail?

Yes, but even though these products are federally-compliant, individual states may have their own regulations about purchasing or using hemp-based products, and these are subject to change. You should check your state and local rules before ordering. We ship nationwide.

Will CBD products show up in a drug test?

There is a risk of failing a drug test. It depends on the type of CBD product one is using. Drug tests for marijuana generally identify THC or its metabolites. Although tests do not screen for CBD, full spectrum CBD products contain low quantities of THC that can make a person fail a drug test. If you anticipate taking a drug test, we suggest checking with your employer or test administrator for clarity prior to taking full spectrum CBD products.

Do you get high off of CBD? 

High CBD, low THC cannabis can produce a range of effects from clear-headed alertness & energy to calm & relaxation. CBD is not psychoactive and is used for effects of its own.

The strength of the effects on a particular person will be different depending on a few things: the dosage level, body weight, food or other substances in the system, personal body chemistry, and experience level with cannabis products.

How do I know how much is the correct dosage of CBD?

The strength of the effects on a particular person will be different depending on a few things: the dosage level, body weight, food or other substances in the system, personal body chemistry, and experience level with cannabis products. High CBD, low THC cannabis can produce a range of effects from clear-headed alertness & energy to calm & relaxation.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that you start with the lowest dose and gradually increase it until you reach satisfactory results. Consult your healthcare provider with specific questions about using cannabinoid products.