Terpenes Explained

By Matthew Elmes, PhD (Director of Product Development, CannaCraft)

Indicas? Sativas? Hybrids? These are all common terms we use to describe our cannabis strains, but what do they really mean?  Indicas are usually associated with relaxing, couch-lock effects, while sativas are frequently found to be uplifting, energizing and cerebral. You may be surprised to learn that these observed differences have little to do with cannabinoids like THC and CBD (studies find no significant differences in THC/CBD content between indicas and sativas [1]) but have everything to do with terpenes, supporting compounds also found in cannabis.

Terpenes are a class of organic compounds produced by many plants that largely define their aroma and flavor. For instance, the terpene linalool is responsible for lavender’s tell tale scent and calming properties. 

Terpenes have been widely used in folk medicines for centuries, and their consumption has been linked to various pharmacological effects. The cannabis plant is particularly abundant in diverse terpenes, which accounts for its distinctive odor. Terpenes and cannabinoids like CBD and THC appear to work synergistically in interesting ways that we have yet to fully understand. Cannabis scientists have dubbed this interplay between terpenes, cannabinoids and other various compounds in the cannabis plant the ‘Entourage Effect’ [2,3]. 

In creating Care By Design Hemp, we wanted to harness the power of the ‘Entourage’ to produce targeted effects and deliver the most effective CBD products possible. So we looked to science to guide our formulations! The terpenes in each of our CBD Hemp products are formulated based on a clinical observational research study conducted in Israel.  With its unique medical cannabis program, Israel was well-suited for study. Patients are prescribed a set monthly amount of one or more cannabis ‘strains’ (or the more accurate term, ‘chemovars’) recommended to treat their specific medical condition.  At the end of each month, patients could opt to keep their current cannabis chemovar, or switch over to a new one.  Interestingly, most people experimented with a wide variety of plants over their first few months, but as the study progressed, the majority of patients tended to narrow it down to a single chemovar or two that they found worked best for their medical needs

In Phase 2 of this ethnobotanical study, scientists analyzed the terpene profiles expressed by each cannabis chemovar in use by patients. By mapping out the complex chemical terpene ‘signatures’ of each plant, our Israeli researchers were able to link the patient-reported effects to terpene commonalities found in the chemovars that worked the best for each effect. The precise terpene profiles from chemovars reported to be most effective for pain-relief were utilized for our RELIEF formulation, while the terpenes from chemovars reported to help relieve patient’s anxiety were used in our CALM formulation, and so on.

While there is more to study, this data-driven approach was a perfect fit with our core philosophy at Care By Design; “Natural healing, amplified by science”. All Care By Design Hemp products use CBD rich oils from California sun-grown hemp, extracted using a unique low-temperature method that preserves therapeutic minor cannabinoids like CBDA, and then are formulated with science-backed terpene blends for maximal efficacy. We truly believe that we have created the most premium full-spectrum CBD products that can be found anywhere on the market today.

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