What Are Terpenes and Why Do They Matter?
Terpenes are trending in the cannabis community, and for good reason. There is a variety of evidence supporting the significance of natural terpenes in cannabis products and their effects on the human body. Preserving and optimizing these compounds in cannabis is key to success in the industry.

Both cannabis professionals and consumers can benefit from knowledge about these powerful compounds and the potential of the entourage effect. With an increase in scientific research and manufacturing capabilities, cannabis businesses are able to better preserve naturally occurring terpenes and use others to enhance their products’ quality and price.

What are these compounds?
Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic compounds produced in plants. The familiar scent and taste of common natural favorites like citrus, lavender, and pine are all created by the terpene profiles in plants. In nature, these compounds serve as protectors and attractants to help plants survive. Terpenes like linalool and terpinolene attract insects and other creatures that help with pollination, and highly-concentrated terpenes like pinene repel animal grazers.

Just like the rest of the plant world, many cannabis cultivars are rich in these compounds. There are certainly dominant and more noticeable terpenes present in cannabis, like limonene and linalool, but the plant produces over 150 unique compounds. These complex chemical profiles give different strains their distinct smells, tastes, and pigmentations which all impact the flavors and aromas consumers notice.

As a result of research into isolating terpenes, the cannabis community has learned there is much more to a strain than just its THC content. There is much we have yet to uncover, but researchers have found an array of health benefits related to the cannabinoids and terpenes produced by cannabis plants.

Preliminary research suggests that terpenes may interact with cannabinoids in ways that enhance or alter the consumption experience. The human body’s endocannabinoid system may process THC, CBD, and CBG differently when consumed with naturally occurring chemical compounds in cannabis plants. The idea that dominant terpenes work in tandem with cannabinoid content to produce the specific effects of different strains is often referred to as “the entourage effect.”

What are botanical terpenes?
Unlike synthetic terpenes, botanical terpenes are non-cannabis-derived terpenes that can activate the entourage effect in a similar way to cannabis terpenes. Businesses that buy botanical terpenes to enhance their products can purchase specified isolates, along with their esters, flavonoids, and alcohols that are extracted from the plant in the extraction process.

These compounds are in their natural form when they are produced in live plants, and many variables affect the amount a cannabis plant will produce. Their levels are affected by a plant’s exposure to light, temperature conditions, growing mediums, nutrient levels, as well as the harvesting and curing processes.

The cannabis industry is constantly creating new products using extracts, which often require isolating THC and CBD from the other compounds in the plant, similar to an essential oil. Most terpenes are volatile compounds, which means they can get lost easily during extraction processes, even when manufacturers do their best to maintain the original chemical profiles of a certain strain.

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