I hear a lot about the terpenes in cannabis extracts. What types of extracts contain the most terpenes?
Thank you for your question. Terpenes are aromatic compounds responsible for the odors and flavors associated with many plants. Although found in a variety of plants, terpenes are commonly linked with cannabis because of its high concentration of terpenes. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the different odors emitted from cannabis plants, including pine, lavender, citrus, and, of course, the tell-tale “cannabis” odor.
Terpenes are much more than just odor and flavor producing compounds. Some terpenes have incredible therapeutic potential.
Terpenes in cannabis have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure/anti-epileptic, pain relieving, and antioxidant benefits. It is believed that terpenes, used in conjunction with cannabinoids, give the most therapeutic benefits. This is known as the “entourage effect.” There are many cannabis-based extracts available to consumers. Some of these extracts contain higher concentrations of terpenes than others. Extracts that focus on maintaining the integrity of cannabis’s terpenes are known as high terpene full spectrum extracts or HTFSE.
High terpene full spectrum extracts are derived from new extraction techniques that focus entirely on terpene preservation. Most conventional extraction methods destroy the volatile terpenes with harsh solvents and intense heat. Extraction techniques for HTFSE typically use fresh, flash-frozen plant material, light solvents, and low temperatures. Live resin and terp sauce, a.k.a “sauce,” are two of the most popular types of HTFSE.
Most cannabis concentrates are extracted from dried and cured plant material. Since drying and curing can significantly diminish the concentrations of terpenes, this step of the harvesting process is skipped. Instead, live resin extracts are made from fresh, flash-frozen plant material.
First, the plants are harvested at peak terpene/cannabinoid potency. The plant material is then flash-frozen to lock in volatile terpenes and cannabinoids that would otherwise be lost. Aside from using fresh, flash-frozen plant material, another significant difference between live resins and other concentrates is the extraction temperature. Live resin’s unique extraction process utilizes lightweight hydrocarbons, which can extract at super cold temperatures to preserve the highest concentration of terpenes.
Sauce, or terp sauce, is a cannabis extract with a sticky, liquid consistency (hence the name). Sauce contains a high concentration of terpenes, which is why many consumers claim it is the most flavorful of extracts. Sauce is typically produced utilizing a closed loop system for the initial extraction. The resulting solution is then given time to settle as it’s subjected to pressure and temperature, with or without the use of a centrifuge. This technique promotes the natural separation of the sought-after cannabinoids from the terpene-rich portion of the extraction. A completed “sauce” will be both a high cannabinoid full spectrum extraction (HCFSE) as well as a HTFSE, although these may be broken down and sold as individual components (cannabinoid “diamonds” and terpene “sauce”).
Whether separated or sold as a complete sauce, this extraction method produces some of the purest terpene-rich products available.
As we continue to learn about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, we will continue to see extraction techniques that favor the preservation of terpenes. Where once the focus was on THC and cannabinoid extraction, the latest extraction methods aim to preserve the plant’s original terpene profile. I hope this answers your question.
Keep on Growing,
Lee G. Lyzit
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