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CBD Terpenes and the Importance of Terpene Analysis

CBD Terpenes and the Importance of Terpene Analysis

Terpenes have not been as mainstream a topic as CBD, but consumers of cannabis worldwide have been benefiting from terpenes for as long as they’ve been using cannabis. In fact, terpenes are present in all plants and can determine different features of these plants, including aroma and flavour. A plant’s terpene development can be affected by many factors, including the soil, fertiliser used, climate, age, and more. Before we delve into the importance of terpenes in cannabis products and the importance of terpene analysis, we must first discuss what terpenes are. 

What Are Terpenes? 

Terpenes are organic compounds that affect the flavour and aroma of different plants. They’re known to ensure optimal growth of plants while also protecting them from harmful predators and attracting pollinating insects. Scientists have identified about 140 different types of terpenes in the cannabis plant, with these compounds having their own distinctive woody, spicy, and pine-like smells and flavours. 

The Role of Terpenes in CBD

Aroma and flavour aren’t the only things that terpenes affect. Despite cannabinoids, terpenes play a massive role in cannabis plants and interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. They’re known to synergise with cannabinoids and are part of the cannabis sativa plant’s therapeutic effects. This has been dubbed the “entourage” effect and means that different mixes of terpenes and cannabinoids can change products’ outcomes and therapeutic effects.

The Importance of Terpene Analysis

There are many terpene benefits that we have spoken about, but while they’re most beneficial, they can be irritating in high concentrations. Terpene analysis allows growers and manufacturers to determine exact levels and prevent adverse effects. In addition to determining aromatic profile and flavour, terpene testing is essential for safety and usage guidance.

Final Terpene Profile

No matter which strain you use, you can’t be sure of terpene profiles until you submit samples for testing. Terpene profiles can differ vastly based on soil, climate, crop maturation, and extraction process. In fact, terpene profiles even differ based on whether you’re testing the flower or an extract. If you want to confirm the terpene profile of raw material cannabis or finished products, a full terpene analysis is mandatory.

Preventing Adverse Effects

As a whole, terpenes are very beneficial. From aiding sleep to reducing nausea, stress, and pain, they’re an important part of the cannabis plant. However, manufacturers and regulators alike have to ensure that terpene concentrations aren’t too high. Beta-myrcene is one of the most prevalent terpenes in cannabis and has relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties. It has even been linked to helping conditions like sleep deprivation and chronic pain. However, it can be dangerous in high concentrations, with research showing that it may be a carcinogen at very high doses. Other terpenes like limonene and linalool can cause allergies in some people and be irritating to others.

Marketing and Labelling

There are more than 100 different terpenes in cannabis plants, with each type of terpene known for different benefits. More potent terpenes like linalool, pinene, limonene, myrcene, and caryophyllene are becoming increasingly popular and used to market products. Since consumers are becoming more aware of what they’re using, labelling products is becoming more critical. Additionally, showing that your cannabis products contain different terpenes is an effective way to market them. 

Profile Completion and Quality Control

It’s not just finished products that are tested in laboratories. At IFS Laboratories, we test completed products like oils and tinctures, testing raw materials. We understand the importance of the supply chain being fully informed of the product that is being sold. Growers and manufacturers need to be sure that they have achieved both the cannabinoid and terpene profiles that they’ve been aiming for. 

As plants grow and mature, their terpene levels change. To ensure optimal terpene levels, growers can opt to perform terpene analysis at different growth stages. This way, they can choose to harvest when terpenes are at the desired levels. Manufacturers also benefit from terpene analysis since they can ensure that the raw materials have been harvested and dried correctly. 

Terpene analysis also helps manufacturers ensure that they have purchased the right cannabis strain. Different strains of cannabis have different terpene profiles, so terpenoid content is a great way of identifying specific strains.

Product Experience

Terpene profiles can also affect the product experience for consumers. This differs based on the type of cannabis product they’re using. For example, while terpenes can add to the sensory experience in vapes and e-liquids, they can negatively impact flavour in edible products like CBD gummies.

Informed Decision-Making

Terpene analysis is not just crucial for manufacturers and sellers. It’s also an integral part of letting consumers make informed decisions about what they’re purchasing. Including terpenes in marketing is becoming increasingly popular as more people become aware of the importance of terpenes in CBD. 

Terpene analysis helps the end-user make their own decisions about the effects that they’re looking for in their medicinal cannabis products. It also allows budtenders and other distributors to recommend varieties to consumers based on their specific needs. 

The Complex Nature of Terpene Analysis

Not all terpene analysis is created equal. Terpenes are highly volatile and require special testing. Even labs experienced in other types of cannabinoid testing don’t always use the best terpene analysis techniques. When testing for THC potency, labs can use ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC). However, terpenes are more volatile and have lower vapourisation points. 

While THC has a boiling point of 157°C and CBD has a boiling point of 180°C, some volatile terpenes start evaporating at temperatures as low as 21.11°C. Because of this, gas chromatography is the best possible method to use for terpene analysis. It takes volatility into account and provides both quick and accurate results.

State-of-the-Art Terpene Analysis With IFS Laboratories

To better serve your clients and meet regulatory guidelines, it’s essential to invest in high-quality laboratory testing. If you want to discover your CBD product’s terpene profile, IFS Laboratories can help. We’re UKAS-accredited, and our state-of-the-art lab uses Gas Chromatograph copuleted with Mass Spectrometer detector (GC-MS) techniques for terpene analysis to ensure accurate and timely results for both mono-, and sesquiter-terpenes.

Additionally, we work with a variety of matrices, including oils, tinctures, dried plant materials, and raw materials. All you need to do to determine the aromatic and flavour profiles of your CBD products is to send us a 10 ml/10 g sample, and we’ll get back to you with detailed results.