Terpenes are what make cannabis taste and smell the way that it does. As we continue to advance in the cultivation and extraction of its resins, companies like Blue River Extracts have created yet another way to explore the flavors and effects of the plant.
By covering extracts in a clear liquid, the coated concentrates adopt the new scent flavor, adjusting the high and experience with the chosen blend.
The flavors are named and based after well-known strains like ACDC, Lemon Kush, Purple Hindu, and Maui Diesel Dawg, satisfying those that have a love for a particular strain’s profile.
To further explore this budding topic, MERRY JANE sat down with Blue River Extract's Tony Veruza for a chat on the inspiration, development, and future of terpenes as his company looks to expand into teas, candles, and more terpene infused products down the line.
MERRY JANE: What exactly are terpenes?
Tony Veruza: Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as fragrances in perfumery, and in medicine and alternative medicines such as aromatherapy. Synthetic variations and derivatives of natural terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of aromas used in perfumery and flavors used in food additives. Vitamin A happens to be a terpene.
MJ: What medical uses and benefits do terpenes own?
TV: We all have heard from medical cannabis patients claiming that one plant in particular helps them more than others. When we analyze the different cultivars we can see that some terpene profiles, together with suitable cannabinoid ratios, are more effective for patients than other similar varieties. Terpenes are responsible for both the flavor and aroma of the plant, but also seem to play a very significant role in expressing the receptors within our Endocannabinoid system. Terpenes, along with phytocannabinoids, help regulate homeostasis within our bodies. We all are born with cannabinoid receptors, we just need to fine tune turning them on and off with specific combinations to really understand the full medical potential. Cannabis derived terpenes, as an aromatherapy component, has not been studied and can also offer great potential of unlocking even more chapters in this discovery.
MJ: How do terpenes modulate the high that comes from cannabis?
TV: The study Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid Entourage Effects was published in 2011 which goes in depth about this. Pure THC causes very different effects than cannabis because it is missing all the terpenes and cannabinoids that modulate these different effects. I like to use the metaphor “If Terpenes are the script, then the cannabinoids are the actors.” This means they mimic the effects of the cultivars, like feeling happy, hungry, and pain relief, as well as working for insomnia and muscle spasms.
MJ: Are there terpenes found in cannabis that one might want to avoid?
TV: Yes. This is a very tricky subject because if you do not know what you are doing on the extraction and purification process you might create toxic or potentially harmful terpenes. Once cannabis has been harvested it contains about 1% essential oil, composed mostly of very volatile monoterpenes (80-90%) that evaporate very quickly. Once the herb is completely dry, the amount of essential oil is only 0.1%, and about 50% of this is made of sesquiterpenes, which are far less volatile. They have identified over 140 known terpenes in cannabis. The main ones most know about are myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, pinene, terpineol, borneol, linalool, eucalyptus, nerolidol. Some others commonly found in cannabis are phellandrene, phytol, humulene, pulegone, bergamotene, farnesene, D3-carene, elemene, fenchol, aromadendrene, bisabolene. Basically, if you think it is easy to create a chemical-free nonvolatile terpene molecule that represent the pure essence of the plant you might want to experiment for a long time before you just start offering it to people. It can be dangerous and I advise to stay away from chemical extracted terpenes. Stay away from terpenes that look yellow, cloudy, or smell funky because they’re most likely not safe.
MJ: How did you craft the terpenes that you offer through Blue River Extracts?
TV: Well, that part is something I developed over years of mistakes honestly. I can tell you we do not extract terpenes from hash, extracts, nor do we use ANY chemicals, or hydro-distillation because all of those techniques result in a product that I have no desire to sell.
MJ: What kind of products do you offer with the terpenes through Blue River Extracts?
TV: We currently offer 10 drop, 20 drop, and 40 drop vials. We had a soft release of candles at the Academy Awards, and plan on releasing them online very soon. We have Terp Teas, Beard oils, and Bath bombs coming up soon.
MJ: How did you become interested in this particular part of cannabis?
TV: I was trying to figure out a way to restore the terpenes as medicinal modulators for the active line of Prana Medicinals that we developed over a 3-year process. We had a failed attempted at making a perfume about 4 years ago, and my good friend Marcus Richardson sparked my mind when he said “You know what you need to do is figure out how to extract terpenes. That is the future of medicine.” He directed me to Ethan Russo’s work along with Robert Clarke, Dave Watson, and K. I started to work on the project again, and within a few weeks I made terpenes. We won a few awards, but I never could truly dial it in with hydro-distillation or any other method that I had tried for years.
MJ: You’ve been taking these terpenes around to different parts of the country and world. What has the general reaction been?
TV: I wish I could film everyone’s reactions. It is an amazing experience and feeling when they try it for the first time. It is important to note that I vaporize them at 420 or below on their own and under 600 with extracts so you can really enjoy them. Always remember that a little bit goes a long, long, way.
MJ: What would you say your favorite terpene is from Blue River Extracts?
TV: Jack Frost, Purple Punch, Red Congo, ACDC, and Orange Creamsicle.
MJ: What can we expect in the future in terms of development with terpenes?
TV: Imagination is limitless.