What makes one Cannabis sativa L. plant different from the next? There are thousands of genetic belonging to both the marijuana plant and the hemp plant and there's one main factor that sets each strain apart—terpenes. Terpenes went unnoticed for a long time, but over the past few years, they have become far more relevant to the modern cannabis user. Terpenes are composed of isoprene units, which are the building blocks of larger, more complex molecules.
“A terpene analysis is like a fingerprint. It can tell you if it’s the same strain under different names. We can see strains going by various names that have the same terpene profile. We now know those strains are identical.” —Dr. Jeffrey Raber (The Werc Shop, an independent testing facility out of Washington)
Cannabis is not the only plant that excretes terpenes from their glands, but you probably know them as essential oils. Terpenes can be used to make natural soaps, perfumes, and household cleaners smell like rose or lavender or pine. They have even been compared to our own aromatic hormones—pheromones. And just like us, plants use their terpenes to communicate with each other and with animals. The right terpene can keep away destructive pests, while another one will invite pollinators to stop by for a visit.
Over 200 terpenes found in different combinations across the wide range of cannabis genetics but hemp's terpenes are slightly different. Hemp does not emit the strong flavors and aromas that cannabis and therefore has a more subtle terpene profile than that of marijuana. There is no Pinene, Myrcene, Linalool, Caryophyllene, and Limonene—the predominant aromatic terpenes in marijuaan—but the plant still contains the therapeutic terpene compound, called Cannabidiol, which is non-psychoactive.
You don't typically hear the two terms used interchangeably, but cannabinoids are just specific terpenes that only marijuana and hemp produce. When you see the words "active ingredients" on your bottle of CBD Drops, you now know that it's referring to terpenes. Terpenes are bioactive, and as terpene research progresses, we are finding out that each one is a powerful medicine. When more than one terpene work together, they form what is called the "entourage effect" which contributes to the medicinal and therapeutic retain the fidelity of these delicate oils.
Extracting terpenes for CBD oil
Extraction of terpenes is a simple process that has been used for centuries to create natural byproducts from many different types of plants. But extracting terpenes from cannabis is careful work because the Cannabidiol molecule is fragile and cannot remain stable under conditions that are too cold, hot, dry, or moist. The two primary extraction methods are supercritical CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction. The CO2 process involves a solvent being forced through an extraction vessel packed with ground plant material—like water through an espresso machine. You want to have finely ground hemp plant material that will allow the solvent to flow through easily. If the hemp is not evenly ground, it won’t extract effectively, and your CBD oil will be weak. Pharma Hemp uses a tried-and-tested process that has worked on an industrial scale for years, and the proof is in our lab tests.
With the pressure under control, several pumps cycle the supercritical carbon dioxide through the plant matter until all of the cannabinoids and terpenes have been extracted and gathered. The carbon dioxide is then allowed to return to its gaseous form. What is left behind is a dark, concentrated resin that can be modified to achieve different levels of potency for dosing. The resin is used in all of our formulations, from balms to edible oils to versatile CBD crystal.
It's important for consumers to know that the terpene extraction and refinement process can be tough to execute on a large scale. Not all lab have the right instruments or the sanitary environment for large-scale extractions. Pharma Hemp has years of experience with this process, learning how to maximize purity and develop refinement techniques that result in clean, pure, CBD oil and products made with CBD oil. When done properly, the difference is noticeable. Always look for products that follow these guidelines, or, better yet, just shop Pharma Hemp for all of your CBD oil needs.