Terpenes; What’s in your medicine?

By GrowHealthy

Do you know what is being mixed into your vape pen? What is giving your favorite tincture it’s unique and flavorful taste? The terpene talk is a simple, but necessary, conversation you need to have with the care representative at your local dispensary. If your primary form of medication is sublingual, oral or inhalation, chances are the lab making those products is adding something to the formulation for flavor. This flavoring usually is an off-the-shelf product labeled as “food safe” or “food grade.” Being safe for food is not the same as being safe for medication. Companies that use these are, most of the time, not trying to cut corners or rip off consumers, but rather unaware or incapable of implementing methods to extract their terpenes. 

What are terpenes? Terpenes are the chemical compounds found in almost every living plant on earth and what gives them their unique smell. It’s what makes roses smell like roses and not like tulips. Cannabis cultivars, or strains, are no exception and each has a unique terpene profile. Many factors can affect these profiles such as stress, genetic drift, soil, etc. 

Terpenes have been used for decades in aromatherapy and are believed to have tremendous effects on the body. Terpenes such as D-Limonene, found in many sativa cultivars, are associated with having an uplifting and energetic effect. Myrcene, however, is associated with more of a sedative and calming effect and can be found in many Indica varieties of cannabis. Many patients are looking for what is called an entourage effect, and this is achieved by consuming compounds that, on their own, are not psychoactive but when taken together can produce similarly desired results. Terpenes are seen as significant contributors in the entourage effect and are contributing to the reason patients overwhelmingly request whole flower or full plant extracts to be made available.

GrowHealthy was the first to market in Florida with 100% cannabis-derived vape cartridges. What does it mean to be 100% cannabis? It means every component used in the formulation have been derived from only the cannabis plant. All terpenes and cannabinoids are extracted from plants grown, harvested and cured on-site in Lake Wales, Florida. We take great pride in being able to provide these strain-specific products to Floridian patients. We strive to give patients a truly homeopathic and therapeutic experience with our various lines of medications.

Some patients do not like the flavor of cannabis. Some are allergic to certain terpenes or desire a more discreet form of medication. For those reasons, we have also partnered with a local company here in Florida, processing citrus fruits to blend proprietary, all natural and organic terpene mixes for some of our fruit-flavored products. These products provide the same euphoric or anti-inflammatory effects when consumed but aren’t 100% cannabis-derived. This is still considered a high-quality product if the terpenes are all-natural and plant-derived. Anything synthetic has the potential to be partially refined or has come from lower grade components. 

Here at GrowHealthy, it all starts in the garden where quality materials are grown. With extractions, if you start with low-quality materials, your finished product will be the same. We painstakingly care for the material as it is harvested and cured to develop a richer, more robust profile. Once the curing is complete, we then extract those precious terpenes and store them for later use. At GrowHealthy we use Super-critical CO2 extraction. The mechanics in a CO2 extraction machine are essentially the manipulation of CO2 gas’ matter state by adjusting the temperature and pressure of the extraction vessel on the machine. This increases the solubility of the desired compounds into the CO2. To extract a specific compound or set of compounds, it’s as simple as adjusting parameters used for this manipulation on the extraction machine depending on the compounds chemical structure. The next thing to be extracted are the cannabinoids. These compounds must go through a refinement process ending in a distillate. This distillate is combined back with the terpenes and used to formulate the various medications we have available.

Terpenes are highly volatile compounds that boil at room temperature. If you have poor operating protocols, it is easy to overexpose your bulk product to heat and have some terpene loss during production. To prevent this, we have automated filling machines that fill our vape cartridges and syringes with infused distillate. These machines are running at a constant temperature and quickly fill the finished products to create a closed system as soon as possible. These machines allow us to create a uniform fill every time, ensuring patients get the exact amount of medicine they paid for. 

The next time you visit your local dispensary, ask the people behind the counter what terpenes are and where they are from. You deserve to know what is in your medicine, because you are an educated patient. Terpenes are a vital part of cannabis medicine and should be taken as seriously as the other, more familiar cannabinoid compounds. HL