By: Erin Babcock
Co-Owner of Primo Gardens Inc – Short North, Columbus, OH
UMB Medical Cannabis Science & Therapeutics Student
Terpenes are small, aromatic compounds that play a role in the essence of many plants, including the cannabis plant. In addition to unique smells and tastes, terpenes also possess unique functional properties that can have potentially therapeutic effects. Just like CBD and other molecules, terpenes can be extracted from Hemp too. The process of extracting terpenes is congruent with the process of extracting CBD. A wiped film distiller is used to collect cannabinoids, including CBD, and filter out terpenes and other solvents. This starts by imputing hemp crude oil which is extracted from the hemp plants. As the distillation occurs, CBD molecules collect in the internal condenser, while terpenes and solvents build up in a flask below the cold trap. This is how the terpenes are extracted, but they are then isolated from the solvents using column chromatography.
Figure 1: Whipped-film machine where the cannabinoids, terpenes, and solvents collect.
Terpenes can be added to just about anything to intensify flavors or scents. Primo Gardens Inc., a CBD manufacturing company, partnered with Third Eye Brewing Co., a microbrewery in Cincinnati, to develop a hemp-derived terpene-infused brew. Primo Gardens isolated the terpenes, using the techniques described, from a strain called Cherry Blossom, with the dominating terpenes being Myrcene, B-Caryophyllene and Humulene.
- Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis and at higher levels, it creates a sedating effect, helping the body relax. While at lower levels, it can help to energize. (Sommano et al, 2020)
- B-Caryophyllene is known for its calming and stress-reducing properties. It also directly interacts with and activates the CB2 receptor, which is a component of the Endocannabinoid System which helps the body maintain homeostasis. (Sharma, 2016)
- Humulene is commonly found in both cannabis and hops, which are used to make beer. Like the other terpenes, it also exhibited relaxing effects. Humulene is also studied for its promising potential for anti-inflammatory actions. (Rogerio, 2009)
This mixture of isolated terpenes was collected into a jar and then used by Third Eye Brewer, Kelly Montgomery, to develop a terpene-infused beer. I asked Kelly how he selected the beer to infuse the terpenes into and he told me that they initially tested the terpene drops in a lager, since it is a pretty simple beer. Immediately, Kelly recognized the familiar piney, dank taste of a West Coast IPA. He thought the pairing would go great, so that’s what they went forward with when making their first batch of terpene-infused beer.
Figuring out the dose was challenging, due to the extreme flavors and aromas terpenes provide. As Kelly and the team were bench testing the terpene-infused beer, they started out by adding 5 drops of the blend to 1 pint of beer, and the flavor was too overwhelming. It was so strong that they had a sticking sensation remaining on their tongues for hours after their taste test. They ended up adding about ½-1 drop of terpene isolate for every 1 pint of beer.
Terpenes are volatile molecules that provide unique sensations of smells and tastes. They can be cold whipped, or infused, into substances, but when heated up, they undergo chemical degradation resulting in them breaking down and boiling off. This is why Third Eye didn’t want to add the terpenes to the kettle, like with normal Hops. Instead, they waited until it was time to carbonate the beer, in order to preserve the terpenes properties. The terpenes were added to the Bright Tank as a finishing touch to a deliciously danky brew.
We, at Primo Gardens, are so happy to have been able to work with Third Eye Brewing Co out of Cincinnati, OH on this incredibly innovative idea. Cannabis is a plant with a diverse range of uses. It’s not just THC and CBD, there are over 400 chemical constituents found in cannabis, including terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and more. (Atakans, 2012) It’s the different combinations of these chemical properties that allow cannabis to provide the therapeutic effects it does. Hemp, as a plant, can also be used industrially for a variety of different purposes, like rope, clothes, paper and more, which can be significantly better for the environment than the majority of alternatives we currently use. The cannabis industry is ever-expanding and we at Primo Gardens are glad to be able to collaborate with other businesses to be a part of the innovations within it.
Atakan, Z. (2012, December). Cannabis, a complex plant: Different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology. Retrieved November 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC3736954/.
Meet the main terpenes of Cannabis. Periodic edibles. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2021, from https://www.periodicedibles.com/terpenes.
Rogerio, A., Andrade, E., Leite, D., Figueiredo, C., & Calixto, J. (2009, October). Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene alpha-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation. British journal of pharmacology. Retrieved November 13, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 19438512/.
Sharma, C., Kaabi, J. K., Nurulain, S., Goyal, S., Kamal, M., & Ojha, S. (2016). Polypharmacological properties and therapeutic potential of β-caryophyllene: A dietary phytocannabinoid of pharmaceutical promise. Current pharmaceutical design. Retrieved November 13, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26965491/.
Sommano, S. R., Chittasupho, C., Ruksiriwanich, W., & Jantrawut, P. (2020, December 8). The cannabis terpenes. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). Retrieved November 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763918/.