Terpenoid Profiles and Potency: Types and Testing
Terpenoids, also known as terpenes, are aroma elements produced in the flower and leaves of the cannabis plant. Terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis, and are, in fact, found in all plants. These compounds define the flavor and fragrance of the plant, and are found in both male and female plants. Various researchers have emphasized the pharmacological importance of terpenes. Around 200 different cannabis terpenes are known, but only a few appear in amounts substantial enough to be detected by smell. The terpenes in marijuana have given the plant an evolutionary advantage by serving to repel animals and fungus.
Types of Terpenoids
The scents and particular psychoactive flavors of marijuana are determined by the predominate terpenes in a strain. The terpene profile can vary; abandoning a suitable strain for one with higher THC and/or CBD content may not provide more medical relief if the terpene profile is significantly different. Manufacturers and consumers recognize the importance of terpenoid varieties and terpenoid profile testing; wide ranges of terpene levels in a slew of products are available. Male cannabis plants can be used to extract terpenes which can then be reintroduced into concentrates, topicals, fragrances, or edibles. Additionally, terpenoids can be derived from cannabis plants or synthetically created in a laboratory. Pros and cons exist for both of these types of terpenoids.
In cannabis, there are commonly eleven kinds of terpenoids. These are listed below.
- α Pinene: accounts for cannabis’ familiar odor; it is both an anti-inflammatory and a bronchodilator.
- Myrcene: the most prevalent terpene in cannabis.
- Ocimene: frequently used in perfumes for its pleasant odor.
- Terpineol: often used in soaps and perfumes; known to have relaxing effects.
- β Caryophyllene: produces anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
- Humulene: acts as an appetite suppressant and exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activity.
- Linalool: possesses sedative properties; it has been used as an analgesic and anti-epileptic.
- Limonene: found in the rinds of citrus fruits, it has been used to treat anxiety and depression.
- Geraniol: an effective mosquito repellent with a potential protective effect against neuropathy.
- Valencene: present in Valencia oranges and contributes to the citrus aroma of cannabis.
- Terpinolene: exhibits antioxidant and anticancer effects in rat brain cells.
Some unconventional terpene profiles do exist; here are some examples of strains containing unique terpenoid profiles. Dutch Treat has a distinctive pine aroma and sweet flavor due to an abundance of terpinolene. Of the most common terpenes in cannabis, terpinolene is considered the least common. Terpinolene is typically seen as a secondary or tertiary terpene that occurs in lower concentrations in most strains. Also, a considerable amount of ocimene is present. Ace of Spades has an earthy flavor accented with sweet berry and sharp lemon. Its terpene data reveals it as a myrcene-dominant strain. The flavor is amplified by a significant amount of terpinolene, pinene, and caryophyllene. Tickle Kush is governed by caryophyllene, as opposed to the more typical myrcene-dominance. Flavor here is mostly spiced and woody.
Terpenoid Potency Testing
Terpene testing is done by gas chromatography, which separates terpene molecules from one another. Chromatography is a laboratory technique for the separation of a mixture. Here is a description of the process: For mode of detection, gas chromatography can use mass spectrometry or flame ionization detection. With mass spectrometry, once molecules are separated in the chromatography column, the spectrometer will blow them apart into predictable mass fragments. These mass fragmentations are known searchable patterns (or fingerprints). An unknown terpene can enter the mass spectrometer detector and the chemist can determine the terpene through library matching. With flame ionization detection, the compound will exit the column and be “burned” in the flame, creating an electrical signal directly proportional to the amount of the compound present. With both mass spectrometry and flame ionization detection, standards must be analyzed to accurately quantify the terpene compound.
PureLabs OKC Terpenoid Testing Laboratory
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