Why Do Most Cannabis Products Taste So Bad?

fruity drinks in mason jars

Let’s be honest. Many cannabis-infused products, both CBD and THC, taste awful. The reason why is simple: cannabinoid extracts are intensely bitter, earthy, and difficult to work with, owing respectively to the cannabinoids themselves, terpenes, flavonoids, and the complex interactions between them and other ingredients.  

When the plant material impacts the flavor profile so intensely, formulating infused foods and beverages is a huge challenge. In the past, consumers bought products for their effects, not for their taste – but now consumers are looking for great-tasting, effective products. Companies that can offer both efficacy and great taste will have an enduring market advantage. 

In most emulsified cannabinoid products, carrier oils, preservatives, and surfactants intensify the bitterness. When cannabinoids are broken down into small particles for an emulsion, that creates more surface area for the bitter compounds to interact with the taste receptors. Fortunately, SōRSE emulsion allows for masking any bitter flavors with minimal sugars and additives. 

Increasing the concentration of cannabinoids increases the bitterness, a particularly challengingissue for product formulators trying to create tasty CBD-infused products. 

WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO FIX IT? 

Options for dealing with bitterness fall into two main categories: incorporation or masking, which can be thought of as either going with the flow, or fighting it. 

Incorporating the Flavors of Cannabinoids

Incorporation means accepting the naturally bitter, complex flavor of cannabis and working with it rather than trying to hide it. It means thinking of the flavor of the extract as an ingredient in the overall sensory formulation. Generally, we experience sweet, sour, salty, and umami tastes positively; however, bitterness is a component in many pleasant tastes.  

Flavors that are naturally bitter, such as peppermint, chocolate, coffee, citrus, or beer, trick the brain into incorporating the bitterness into the familiar flavor, such that it doesn’t register as bitter, but acknowledges it as “peppermint, which is a little bitter.” 

Many cannabinoids are bitter, and customers can accept that bitterness is the cost they pay for the effect, or even celebrate and cultivate it, much as we do with caffeine or alcohol. 

The trouble with this approach is it limits flavor options. The market is laden with chocolates, sour candies, and peppermint mouth sprays. The industry needs to evolve and match the sophistication of today’s consumers with flavors that appeal to them. 

Masking the Flavors of Cannabinoids

Masking is a more traditional, low-tech option that works similarly to incorporation but has the goal of completely erasing the taste of the cannabinoids rather than complementing them. The modern version involves bitter blockers as a process aid, which interfere with the taste buds’ ability to perceive bitterness. 

Even though we can eliminate the herbaceous, bitter taste of cannabis, should we?  Some people argue that cannabis shouldn’t taste good because its bitterness will make people think of it as medicine, or that without the distinctive taste, accidental ingestion will happen. The fact is, most consumers know their limits, and are looking for other means of recreational or medicinal consumption beyond inhalation. In turn, companies have responded to the growing demand for high-quality infused food and beverages, and are creating products that taste great and deliver cannabinoids efficaciously.  

If you are a product developer who has an idea for a great infused product and would like some advice working with the flavor of cannabinoids and terpenes, our R&D team is here to help. They are well-versed in all aspects of product development, from ideation to scale, and are experts when it comes to working with the flavors that cannabinoids offer. Book a call today! 

CBD Water: What is It, and is It Worth Purchasing?

kleer powered by sorse

CBD Water: What is It, and is It Worth Purchasing?

Most of us were taught in science class that oil and water don’t mix. All you have to do  is add a dropper full of CBD oil to a glass of water and watch what happens. The oil will immediately rise to the top because it is hydrophobic, or water-fearing. Shaking the mixture may allow the CBD oil to disperse in the water, just like olive oil and vinegar will mix, but the two will eventually separate. How, then, are CBD water producers able to offer beverages with the CBD evenly dispersed without risk of separation? The answer is simple – emulsion technology 

If you believe that staying hydrated over the course of the day is important, you use CBD on a daily basis, or are curious about how CBD might benefit you, CBD water is worth purchasing, especially since there are plenty of reputable water-soluble CBD products on the market.  

What is CBD Water, and How Is It Made? 

CBD water is still or sparkling water that has been infused with either Isolate or Broad Spectrum CBD.    

Most CBD water brands utilize water-soluble technology and emulsions to infuse the cannabinoids into the beverage. Emulsion technology takes the oil and breaks it down into very small droplets that repel each other, allowing for even distribution throughout the beverage. This homogeneity ensures that each sip contains the same amount of cannabinoids. Emulsion technology can also mask the taste and smell of cannabis, so you won’t have to pinch your nose while drinking the beverage.  

Which Is More Effective  — CBD Water or Oil? 

While CBD oil is more concentrated than infused water, that does not mean it is more effective as a delivery platform for the cannabinoids. In oil form, CBD can take one to two hours after ingestion to have an impact. Because 60% of the human body is comprised of water, it is difficult for the body to absorb straight CBD oil, which is often used in tinctures, edibles, or personal care products. To fix this problem, emulsion technology breaks down the oil into small particles for even dispersal, which allows for greater absorption in the intestinal tract for maximum bioavailability. That means a consumer can experience the effects of cannabinoids as early as eight minutes after ingestion.   

Why Do People Drink CBD Water? 

To understand the potential benefits of consuming CBD water, it’s important to know how cannabinoids interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in the human body. The endocannabinoid system is a molecular system responsible for regulating functions in the body, including immune response, communication between cells, appetite, and metabolism. The ECS consists of receptors throughout the brain and body that help maintain balance in reaction to change or stress. When consumed, cannabinoids attach to these receptors (CB-1 in the brain and CB-2 in the body) which will help maintain or re-establish that balance. Because most of the scientific research on CBD’s medicinal benefits is being conducted on animals, CBD’s effects on humans has not been as well documented.   

 In February 2021, the Journal of Cannabis Research published a report titled “Reasons for cannabidiol use: a cross-sectional study of CBD users focusing on self-perceived stress, anxiety and sleep problems.” The research found that the four primary reasons for UK consumers using CBD was anxiety, sleep problems, stress, and general health and well-being. In a 2018 study of 2409 users of CBD in the US, the top three reasons for consumers using CBD were chronic pain, arthritis and joint pain, and anxiety.  

The more research that is conducted on the ECS and the ways that cannabinoids interact with the ECS receptors, the better we will understand the potential benefits CBD and other cannabinoids have on the human body.  

What to Look for when Buying CBD Water 

When buying CBD water, consumers should make sure the brand has documentation for its beverages, namely the Certificate of Analysis (COA). A COA will include information on potency testing, which ensures the dosage is correctly represented on the bottle or can. COAs can typically be found on the company’s website. Many brands include a QR code on the packaging that can be scanned and linked to a digital COA. Companies that are transparent with COAs and third-party testing results can be trusted.   

SōRSE works with several companies producing still and sparkling CBD-infused waters, many of which include the moniker “Powered by SōRSE” on their cans and bottles. When you buy an infused water powered by SōRSE, you can expect safe ingredients, accurate label claims, and consistency in experience – all of which are backed by a team with over 200 years of food and beverage industry experience.   

 SōRSE loves collaborating with producers who want to push the industry forward. If you are interested in creating an infused water, book an exploratory call with our team today. 

Understanding Milligram Doses in Cannabis Drinks

Major powered by SoRSE

Understanding Milligram Doses in Cannabis Drinks 

When it comes to choosing an infused beverage, today’s cannabis consumer has a wide array of options depending on their state’s cannabis laws. Cannabis infused beverages on the market today include sparkling waters, flavored seltzers, juice-based drinks, mocktails, tonics, and kombuchas, just to name a few. So many options, so little time!  

Consumers who are new to beverages infused with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC often wonder what milligram dose is best for them. When it comes to CBD, which is non-psychoactive, most beverages on the market today feature anywhere from 15 to 30 mg of CBD. That said, some consumers familiar with CBD prefer higher dosed beverages ranging from 30 to 50 mg. Most beverages containing THC can vary – from as low as 2 mg THC to as high as 100 mg.   

When it comes to CBD, research suggests it may help with certain health conditions such as inflammation, pain, and anxiety. Different people respond to different doses based on factors like individual body chemistry and the condition they seek to remedy. What sets CBD apart experientially is that It is not psychoactive, meaning you won’t get “high” like you will with THC. Because of this, finding the right dosage for THC infused products is especially important in terms of its short-term effects. Below are key factors consumers should keep in mind when deciding what milligram dosage is right for them. 

How Are Cannabis Edibles and Drinks Different in Terms of Dosing? 

Consumers who are new to infused beverages might wonder if they are stronger than edibles. The answer is, it depends on how the body processes the cannabinoids. Typically, it can take the body 45 to 90 minutes to process an oil-based edible because of the way the digestive system breaks down the item and how the cannabinoid is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Beverages infused with a water-soluble formulation typically have an onset between 8 and 15 minutes because the cannabinoids are first absorbed through the mouth and under the tongue as well as through the digestive tract.  

Consumers should also pay attention to the serving size of both edibles and beverages. For example, a small gummy may contain 20 mg of THC, while the serving size is half of the gummy. Who eats half of a gummy? The bottom line is to always read the label.  Some beverages offer a dosing ruler on the packaging for the consumer to easily identify how many milligrams are in one serving. The best rule of thumb when trying any product for the first time is to take it slowly and note how you feel after consumption. 

How to Choose the Right Dosage for You 

Canna-Curious: Start Low, Go Slow 

For new consumers who are curious about cannabis, the best route is to start with a low dose beverage – low dose meaning 2-4 mg THC per 8-12 fluid ounces – and to take it slowly. A perfect example of a low dose beverage that is very approachable for new consumers is our partner, Cann’s Social Tonic. Each 8-ounce can contains 2 mg THC and 4 mg CBD, a ratio that allows the cannabinoids to complement each other. What’s more, Cann has some delicious flavors to choose from, like Lemon Lavender, Grapefruit Rosemary, and Orange Cardamom. 

 After drinking half of a Cann, relax for a few minutes and see how you feel. Then you can decide if finishing the beverage is the path forward, or if saving the rest for later is the better choice. Remember, you can always drink more, but you can’t drink less! Taking the process slowly will allow you to see how your body reacts to the cannabinoids and how long it takes to feel the effects.  

Three cans of Cann Beverages

Occasional Consumer: Make It Easy, Take It Easy 

For the consumer who consumes cannabis on a semi-regular basis, a higher dose beverage in the 20 mg range would likely be a good fit. Think of every 5 to10 mg of cannabis in a beverage as one serving. As is true with the Canna-Curious consumer, the first time you try a new infused beverage, drink half, and see how you feel; the rest is up to you!  

Seasoned Veteran: Learn Your Limits 

Finally, for the regular cannabis consumer with a higher tolerance, a high dose beverage like MAJOR might be ideal. Small but mighty, each 6.7-ounce bottle contains 100 mg of THC and is available in a variety of different flavors including Pink Lemonade and Mango Orange. For a seasoned veteran who is trying a high dose beverage for the first time, again, take it slowly – start with half a bottle, spacing your doses out over a time period that gives you the opportunity to see how you feel throughout the experience.  

Major powered by SoRSE

Where to Buy Your Beverages 

Many CBD-infused beverages are available online. Consumers can find the best tasting and most effective CBD beverages from our partners on our “Powered by SōRSE” page. Depending upon where consumers reside, they might be able to find beverages featuring CBD in a small local grocery store or a natural foods store.   

Consumers of THC-infused beverages can find products in recreational or medical dispensaries. Some states like California and Massachusetts also allow for delivery services where consumers can order product online and have it delivered to their home.  

Now more than ever, consumers interested in cannabinoids like CBD and THC in have an amazing array of beverage products to choose from. If you are a product developer interested in developing an infused beverage or are wondering how to appropriately dose your product based on your target consumer, book a call with SōRSE team member today for a consultation. We’re happy to provide insights based on our experience working with a variety of brands and clients delivering cannabinoids to the consumer.  

Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate: What’s the Difference?

cannabis plant and oil

Blog Updated: June 28, 2021

What’s the Difference Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate CBD? 

Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate refer to types of cannabis extracts, also called concentrates. The terms are intended to indicate the amount of plant-produced therapeutic chemicals present in addition to the primary cannabinoids (CBD and/or THC); they are a shorthand way of conveying the diversity of bioactive material in a given extract.  

To understand the relevance of phytochemical diversity to product development, why these terms were coined, and how they may be interpreted today, we must first explain the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and the Entourage Effect. 

The Endocannabinoid System 

The ECS is a network of neurotransmitters, their receptors and enzymes. It is present in all extant vertebrate species and some insects. Scientists’ discovery of the ECS has happened gradually over the latter part of the last century, beginning in 1964 with the identification and synthesis of THC by Mechoulam and Gaoni, pioneering Israeli scientists. It was named by Italian biochemist Vincenzo Di Marzo, who initially outlined its influence in “eating, sleeping, relaxing, forgetting and protecting” in the early 90s. This system plays a critical role in almost every regulatory function of our bodies. 

Today’s consumers are becoming more curious about which cannabis options work best for them and why. There is a lot of information out there, easily accessible through a Google search, but most consumers do not have the time or inclination to deep-dive into cannabis science; they just want to know what they can expect. The problem is, the ECS is as unique as a fingerprint; everyone is different, and trial and error is inherent in the journey toward optimization. However, the chemicals produced in the plant alongside cannabinoids have more predictable and well-studied effects than the cannabinoids themselves. Knowing the phytochemical profile of a hemp or cannabis extract can help developers define and standardize their products at scale. 

The Entourage Effect 

The definition of the Entourage Effect is relatively simple; it is the theory that cannabinoids have more favorable actions when delivered with a higher proportion of native phytochemicals such as terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. This manifests as both amplification of positive effects (efficacy) and modulation of undesirable ones (tolerability). The term was coined in 1988 by Raphael Mechoulam, the same Israeli scientist who discovered THC, and its potential mechanisms were first illuminated by Dr. Ethan Russo in his landmark 2011 paper, “Taming THC.” Put even more simply, the Entourage Effect is a way of saying that, when it comes to cannabis and hemp, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 

The interactions between various cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are complex; it will take decades of research to parse them. Fortunately, terpenes and flavonoids have at least as much scientific research behind them as ahead of them. They are already common additives in many commercial processed goods, especially cosmetics, and of course, food – plants make tens of thousands of different terpenes alone. They can also be synthesized. 

The Entourage Effect is the reasoning behind extractions that seek to retain as much of the native phytochemical context as possible. However, this comes at the expense of standardization and palatability, so each use case will necessitate its own balance of values. 

 Creating Cannabis Extracts 

 Cannabinoids are produced most abundantly in trichomes, the resin glands of the hemp and cannabis plants. To be used in processed beverages or topicals, these glands must first be concentrated, then their oils separated from plant waxes and other non-useful vegetative matter. There are two main categories of processes to do this: solvent and non-solvent. Various levels of technological sophistication exist within each category, and most finished extracts employ elements of both.  

Solvent: In this method, a solvent is added to dissolve the cannabinoids, then evaporated, leaving a concentrated oil. Solvents can be further divided by polarity. Non-polar solvents, such as butane, dissolve only non-polar compounds from the plant, in this case the oils and other lipids making up the trichome heads. Polar solvents, such as ethanol, will extract both non-polar and polar compounds, including water-soluble compounds such as chlorophyll. These bring with them with strong herbaceous flavors; however, many polar compounds are desirable from a therapeutic standpoint. 

Non-solvent (Mechanical): Using temperature or pressure changes, cannabinoid oils can be separated without the use of a solvent. Distillation uses the variability in boiling points of a plant’s constituent chemicals to yield very pure extracts. Solvent-extracted concentrates are evaporated and then condensed at precise temperatures. The resulting product typically tests at 85-97% purity. 

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate CBD

full spectrum broad spectrum isolate cbd graph examples
The graphic above illustrates the difference in color and plant materials in each of the three extracts.

The following are the terms used to categorize the three different types of extracts. 

Full Spectrum 

Full Spectrum CBD means the maximum amount of helpful native phytochemicals are retained during extraction, including THC. The goal is to remove extraneous lipids while retaining an identical ratio of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the original plant source material. This can only be verified by testing the material before and after the extraction. True Full Spectrum extracts are rarer than one might expect; most extractions lose significant terpenes and flavonoids during processing because they are much more volatile than cannabinoids. Ethanol and very low heat (the RSO method or whole plant oil), or an extremely long vacuum extraction process can yield Full Spectrum extracts. Full Spectrum extracts tend to be quite dark in color, and their flavors can be described as earthy and vegetal.  

Broad Spectrum

Broad Spectrum applies to extractions that aim to retain a large complement of phytochemicals without the THC, which allows for some Entourage Effect action. Hemp, defined as cannabis plants containing less than .3% THC, forms the basis for most Broad Spec extracts. Broad Spectrum can also be created by either adding terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids to CBD isolate or by removing THC from Full Spectrum extract via distillation. Compared to Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum extracts are slightly lighter in color, and while their flavor profiles are similar, they are not as hemp-forward and bold. 

Distillate 

Distillate takes the opposite approach of Full Spectrum, seeking to remove everything but the cannabinoid(s) of interest. After undergoing solvent extraction, the concentrated oil is run through the short-path distillation process described above, often multiple times, to purify it. Some suppliers will advertise “Full Spectrum distillate” but this is contradictory. If terpenes or other bioactives are reintroduced after distillation, the product is sometimes also called Broad Spectrum. 

Isolate 

Isolate is the purest form of extracted cannabinoids, a crystalline powder with a purity of 99.9%. It is created through additional solvent processes after distillation. The additional processing steps are expensive, but due to the extreme purity of the final product, cheaper crude extracts can be used as starting material without concern for residues. 

Choosing the Right Spectrum 

Both Full and Broad Spectrum concentrates offer the benefits of the Entourage Effect. If your CBD product is relatively low-dose, having a diversity of phytochemicals is even more important. Beyond their potential therapeutic effects, all these minor players also give cannabis its depth, creating a symphony of flavor and smell, and ultimately making the bitterness of cannabinoid extracts more palatable. 

However, even a pleasant symphony of flavors can have a strong personality; it will never be a neutral canvas onto which flavor scientists can project their artistry. Rather, it is a dominating flavor of its own – and one that changes with each batch of extract. In emulsions, the diversity of chemicals, each with slightly different weights, is also a challenge.  

By contrast, distillates and isolates offer consistency and standardization; they are a known quantity. With them, a product producers can use a wider variety of flavorings to make the formulation really shine, and they are far more consistent in emulsions (as long as the supplier is reliable). The consumer can also expect the same effects and sensory experience every time.  

Choosing the correct starting material for product development is a careful balance of values. For most commercial purposes, purer extracts are desirable because they allow producers to standardize and iterate based on known, reliable effects. However, for the more wellness-focused, the benefits of a fuller complement of phytochemicals are worth the variability.  

At SōRSE, we are able to strike a balance between standardization and efficacy. Many of our products reconstruct the phytochemical profile block by block to yield a consistent but fully articulated product – similar to molecular gastronomy, but for hemp. Not only are we able to offer Broad Spectrum and Isolate emulsions in liquid and powder form, but we are able to create custom emulsions for our customers based on what they need to make their product unique. If you are a product developer wondering which spectrum is right for your product or if you are interested in creating a custom blend of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, reach out for an exploratory call with our team today.  

 

 

 

PA Cannabis News: CBD Oil for Your Pets

CBD has been gaining in popularity in the US these days as many people are turning towards natural products instead of pharmaceuticals to treat their pets. There are now many options on the market that makes it easy to add CBD into your pet’s diets, such as our partner, Heirloom Pet Products. Our VP of Technical Business Development, Michael Flemmens, discusses the potential benefits of CBD and how it affects your pets in Pennsylvania Cannabis News’ article.

Read the full article.

With Age Comes Change: The Maturation of the Cannabis Industry

Reuters: Canada's Pascal Biosciences partners with SoRSE to test cannabis-based cancer therapy

There is no doubt that the cannabis industry has matured over the past ten years, due in part to an increasing number of states legalizing medicinal and recreational use as well as a growing public acceptance of the plant for its health and wellness benefits. This cultural attitude shift is welcomed, especially for those who know the rich history of the plant and what it has offer. That said, it has been a long time coming, given that cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated crops recorded, dating back 12,000 years to Central Asia. During that time, cannabis was used for spiritual enlightenment and pain reliefnot unlike today’s consumers! 

A Growing Acceptance  

A great example of consumer acceptance of cannabis is the ever-growing popularity of cannabidiol, CBD, one of the many cannabinoids in the plant. Consumers are curious about the functional attributes that CBD products offer and are open-minded when looking to purchase products featuring CBD.  As a result, companies producing infused products are closely aligning themselves with the food and beverage industry, following their tried-and-true standards and guidelines with the goal of creating safe, great tasting products for their target consumer base.  

 Heard of GRAS Status? If No, You Will Soon   

 Back in the day, before cannabis edibles became mainstream, there was minimal regulation in the space, which led to inaccurate dosing as well as quality and safety concerns. Today, many companies are preparing themselves for FDA regulation by pursuing self-affirmed GRAS status. GRAS, which stands for Generally Recognized as Safe, is the FDA’s designation that a substance added to food is considered safeIf companies actively pursue self-affirmed GRAS status now, this will prevent reformulation requirements and reduce potential barriers to enter mainstream retailers, making the company a more valuable partner. Companies pursuing GRAS also sends a message to the consumer carefully reading labels that their safety comes first.    

Focus on Quality and Safety  

 While the FDA considers how to regulate CBD, companies creating infused products are utilizing the traditional food and beverage quality and safety protocols to keep the consumer safe. CBD might be “new,” but if it’s going to be in food and drinks, it has to be treated just like any other food ingredient. In the food and beverage industry, it’s common for the terms “quality” and safety to be paired together, but they are not interchangeable. The word quality” refers to the features and characteristics of a food product that is acceptable to consumers, meets their expectations, and conforms to required specifications. The word safety” refers to practices and conditions that confirm the ingredients and finished goods will not harm consumers if ingested.   Many companies have implemented their own food safety programs which include following GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards. The more that companies prioritize safety and quality, the more the consumers will trust and remain loyal to the brand.  

Beyond the Brownie: Product Quality and Variety 

Years ago, if someone wanted an infused cannabis product like a cookie or brownie, they would have likely had to make it themselves. In contrast, today’s cannabis marketplace is rich with a variety of products from wellness shots and beverages to gummies and tea sachets. An important difference between today’s infused products and those of the past is the focus on flavor and the consumer’s sensory experience. Product producers are committed to creating high quality goods that taste good, which means that they are spending more time considering what flavors and ingredients will work in concert with the cannabinoid. 

Popular product categories are by no means new; they are simply enhanced by CBD. Currently, the canna-curious are interested in low-calorie, low-sugar infused beverages and food items, and products that meet diet-specific and lifestyle needs. This includes organic, all-natural, and gluten-free diets as well as products that feature functional ingredients. Ready to mix (RTM) beverages is a category on the rise for their portability and ease of use. Today’s consumers are also buying CBD products for their pets, from infused biscuits to food toppers. Water-soluble cannabinoid emulsions are making it easy for product developers to add CBD to almost any food or beverage product that you can find on a grocery store (and pet store) shelf. 

Growth and Scalability 

 With consumer demand for quality and novel products on the rise, rates of production and distribution increase as well. Now more than ever, retailers are creating ample shelf space for CBD products. As CBD has become more widely accepted, larger food and beverage companies are joining the wave of infused product development. With this, more manufacturing and co-packing companies are following suit, creating opportunities for product developers to scale their products and get them to market. Retailers are also eagerly anticipating the influx of CBDinfused products from larger traditional food and beverage companies that are waiting for the go-ahead from the FDA before releasing their already developed, not yet available infused products.   

As the cannabis industry matures, consumer demand is on the rise. Today’s consumer expects healthier, more unique products, which creates exciting opportunities for product developers as well as manufacturing challenges. In this time of high demand, it is important that product developers choose their strategic partners wisely to ensure market success. SōRSE utilizes patent-pending emulsion technology designed for an easier cannabinoid infusion and a better finished product. At SōRSE, we convert an oil into a water-soluble liquid or powder that is easily integrated into the production process using food grade ingredients. Because the emulsion is homogeneous, the amount of cannabinoids is evenly distributed throughout the product, and the first sip tastes as good as the last. With a team backed by 200+ years of experience in the food and beverage industry and a focus on consumer safety and satisfaction, SōRSE is committed to moving the industry forward with our partners and taking infused products to the next level.  

 

 

 

 

Terpenes: What They Are and Why They Are Important

Terpenes: What They Are and Why They Are Important

There is no doubt that cannabis has a very distinct taste and smell. Most people can identify it as soon as they smell it – but if they have never ingested a CBD drink or edible, they might wonder about the flavor it can impart. When it comes to describing cannabis’ smell and taste, a few of the words we often hear are earthy, skunky, herbaceous, citrusy or piney. It’s important to note that each strain has its own unique sensory qualities, much like a Gravenstein apple tastes and smells different than a Fuji. What gives cannabis and other plants these qualities that humans react to when they smell or taste them? Terpenes!

Terpenes: What They Are and What They Do

In the cannabis plant, terpenes are fragrant oils that are produced and secreted from the same glands that produce cannabinoids, which are called trichomes. Terpenes are the molecules that give the plant its odor and flavor and increase the cannabinoids’ efficacy. As is true with other plants, the qualities that terpenes bring to cannabis are impacted by soil composition, climate, and myriad other factors. Terpenes can help the plant repel insects and other predators, as well as attracting pollinators like bees. They also have antioxidant effects. Scientists have identified over 200 terpenes in the cannabis plant, and each strain has its own unique blend of terpenes.

Terpenes also have therapeutic qualities; they can play a role in a plant’s medicinal effects because of the way they interact with cannabinoids and help them enter the bloodstream. Scientists have found that when terpenes and cannabinoids work synergistically, their effectiveness in treating pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and infection is enhanced. Interestingly, Terpenes are the basis of aromatherapy, a healing treatment that utilizes a plant’s essential oils to promote physical and emotional well-being.

Common Terpenes and Their Qualities

Beta-caryophyllene can be found in black pepper, oregano, cloves and cinnamon and can be described as peppery. It is the only terpene that can act as a cannabinoid and interact directly with our endocannabinoid system and is reported to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Limonene can be found in citrus fruit rinds, rosemary and peppermint. It is reported to provide stress relief. Research has shown Limonene’s potential for stress relief, fighting fungus and bacteria, and relieving heartburn.

Linalool can be found in lavender and birch bark and can be described as floral. It is reported to promote calm and relaxation. It’s also known for its antimicrobial properties and its ability to help the immune system fight stress.

Myrcene, one of the most common of the cannabis terpenes, can be found in hops, mango, and lemongrass and can be described as floral or herbal.  It is reported to impart calming qualities and relax muscles. One of its most important qualities is that increases a cell membrane’s permeability, which allows for a larger uptake of cannabinoids and therefore stronger effects.

Pinene, another very common terpene in the plant world, can be found in basil, dill, rosemary and pine needles. The scent and flavor be described as foresty or piney. Because it is a bronchodilator, it can improve airflow to the lungs. It is reported to provide relief for pain and inflammation and aid in memory retention.

Terpinolene can be found in apples, lilac, tea tree, nutmeg and cumin and can be described as fruity. It is reported to have uplifting effects and can help fight off mosquitos. Terpinolene is a common ingredient in cleaning products because of its fresh scent and antibacterial qualities.

ECS and The Entourage Effect

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is present in all humans and animals is responsible for building and sustaining health. Its primary role is to maintain and balance all of the other bodily systems such as the central nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system.  The ECS is made up of receptors throughout the body and in the brain, which help maintain balance in reaction to change. The ECS is crucial when it comes to regulating a broad range of physiological processes that affect us, such as our mood, energy level, and immunity, as well as how we experience stress, pain, and more. Research studies have linked the ECS to the following processes: Appetite/digestion, metabolism, chronic pain, inflammation, mood, learning/memory, motor control, and skin/nerve function, to name a few. After being thrown into imbalance by physical, environmental or emotional stressors, the combination of cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and terpenes can bring the body back into balance.

Cannabis researchers S. Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam introduced the term “Entourage Effect” to explain the process of biological synergy between cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. It represents the idea that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” meaning that the effects created when the three work together are stronger than each would achieve alone. A paper by Ethan Russo titled “Taming THC” in the British Journal of Pharmacology reported evidence that taking cannabinoids and terpenes together may be beneficial for treating conditions like pain, anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, infection and cancer. What this means, in layman’s terms, is that the combination of cannabinoids like CBD with terpenes can bring a body back into balance through its work with the ECS.

If you are exploring the idea of creating a CBD beverage or edible or perhaps reformulating a recipe you already have in the works, it’s important to consider the differences between extractions, particularly CBD Isolate and Broad Spectrum. Isolates are CBD in their purest form; they are 99% CBD and impart very little in the way of flavor or odor. Broad Spectrum retains a large complement of plant material without the THC, which allows for the Entourage Effect to occur. Hemp, which contains less than .3% THC, forms the basis for most Broad Spectrum extracts. Broad Spectrum can also be created by either adding terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids to CBD isolate or by removing THC from Full Spectrum extract via distillation. If you want to create a product that is free from any plant smell or flavor, Isolate is your best bet. If you want to give your customers the benefit of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids working together and imparting flavor and smells that can complement the other flavors, then Broad Spectrum is a great choice.

The team here at SōRSE is well-versed in working with cannabinoids and terpenes alike and are always willing to help you create the perfect sensory profile for your product. Book an exploratory call today!

Webinar: Introduction to CBD & Water-Soluble Emulsion Technology

SoRSE webinar

Presented by Michael Flemmens, VP of Technical Business Development

Hosted by SōRSE Technology

CBD is the hottest ingredient trend and demand has continued to soar in 2020. But what is CBD, why do consumers want it, and why has it been so difficult to integrate into beverages, food items, topicals, and nutraceuticals? Learn from the industry-leading water-soluble CBD emulsion supplier, SōRSE Technology, the basics about CBD and how it can seamlessly be integrated into any manufacturing process to create safe, stable, and scalable products.

CBD, THC… Which Cannabinoids Are the “Next Big Thing”?

vial of cannabis oil

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.  

 

There’s no escaping it: right now, CBD is IN. Offering the medicinal appeal of cannabis without intoxicating effects, CBD is finding its way into absolutely everything. Even after the buzz subsides and the conversation becomes more realistic and nuanced, this cannabinoid is likely to remain a staple of the health and wellness industry. THC’s not going anywhere either, of course. But these are only two of over a hundred cannabinoids that have been discovered so far. Industry pros are starting to look to the horizon for what else this incredible plant has to offer.  

 

CBG (cannabigerol) is sometimes called the “mother cannabinoid” because almost all other cannabinoids start as CBG. Its acid form, CBGA, is the precursor to the three main branches of cannabinoid development. Enzymatic action determines the proportion of CBGA that will become THCA, CBDA, or CBCA, then UV light (a.k.a. heat) transforms them. 

 

Which Cannabinoids are Going to be the Next Big Thing?

(image credit: Science Direct) 

 

Since more CBG by definition means less THC, breeders have not had much incentive to maximize CBG until very recently (and with cannabinoid synthesis becoming cheaper by the minute, they might not need to). Cannabinoids tend to do a lot of the same things, but CBG appears to offer superior antibacterial, antispasmodic, and vasodilation action, potentially enough that it’s worth selecting for. Could CBG supplant CBD? It’s possible, but more likely it will stand alongside it in the cannabinoid medicine cabinet.  

 

Some growers, however, believe that CBG’s potential lies not in what it does but what it can become. Unlike with THC, the percentage of which determines whether a cannabis plant is a federally prohibited drug, there are no regulations limiting the CBG content of a cannabis plant, and it is easier to breed a high-CBG genotype compared to one that amplifies other minor cannabinoids. Harvesting CBG is easier, too. By adding the appropriate synthase, producers could then transform it into any number of other cannabinoids.  

 

On the other end of the cannabinoid lifecycle is CBN (cannabinol); it is created from the degradation of THC-A, which is caused by exposure to air and UV light. It has gained a reputation as the go-to cannabinoid for sleep. To put it another way, it’s why you get sleepy when you smoke old weed.  

 

CBN is poised for popularity because sleep issues are one of the main points of entry for medicinal or semi-medicinal cannabis use. It may also offer a host of benefits common to cannabinoids such as pain relief, anti-spasticity, and improved cell function. Yet it’s the somnolence that most formulators are after: 5mg of CBN was shown to be equivalent to a 10mg dose of Diazepam in inducing sleep. CBN is also intoxicating, but only mildly, and is especially effective when paired with a moderate dose of THC.  

 

There are a scant few products on the market that advertise high-CBN, which in this case means a ratio above 1mg CBN for every 10mg of other cannabinoids. Tinctures are a natural form factor given their speed of onset and relatively long duration (though they are still not as long-lasting as an edible). If you’re the sort of consumer who struggles to fall asleep but not to stay asleep, CBN could be a great option.  

 

THC-V (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is the flashiest up-and-coming cannabinoid. We’ve known about it since 1970, but only recently did it stand out from the crowd. It’s being called the diet cannabinoid or “skinny weed,” because it was shown to reduce appetite and weight in rats. It does this by suppressing the activity of the CB1 receptor. (THC and CBG, by contrast, are appetite stimulants because they are CB1 agonists). THC-V, like CBD administered with correct timing, acts as a THC ballast. It can also improve insulin resistance, which makes it promising for diabetes treatments.  

 

Additionally, THC-V offers a short-duration, clear and focused high (most likelyat sufficient dosages. From what little research we have, dosage seems key for all of its effects. Insulin resistance improvement and weight loss occurred at a daily dosage of 3mg/kg of body weight in mice, which would translate to over 200 milligrams for an average-sized adult. Right now that’s a tough mark to hit, but in the future market demands may offer potency at that level,or we may find the minimum effective dose in humans to be quite different.  

 

Like other weight-loss supplements, THC-V is unlikely to be a panacea. Its appetite-moderating effects may stem in part from reducing the pleasure derived from eating. It did not reduce food consumption in rats who were truly hungry, nor did it influence obese rats to lose weight. It is more appropriately viewed as a supporting player in the cannabis pharmacy. 

 

If you love CBD for its non-intoxicating therapeutic effects, you might want to check out THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). THC-A is the acid form of THC, how it looks before the application of heat (decarboxylation). This cannabinoid is emblematic of the minimal-processing, whole medicine approach that is gaining increasing traction in the cannabis space. Research indicates it is a very powerful anti-inflammatory, even among cannabinoids. It has also demonstrated neuroprotective and anti-cancer effects. Large dosages can be taken without fear of inebriation, a major hurdle that THC faces. THC-A is already popular in medical circles, where it is derived by juicing fresh or frozen cannabis fan leaves. Devotees extrapolate that since other foods retain broader nutritional profiles in their fresh state, cannabis must do the same. It’s a keen argument. The recent popularity of live resin, an extraction done without first drying and curing the flowers, speaks to its commercial potential.  

 

Even huge CBD fans can recognize our cultural infatuation with the cannabinoid for the trend that it is. Eventually we will have to move away from the fad mindset. As stigma around cannabis relaxes and consumers become more comfortable with cannabis overall, they will become more educated and discerning in their preferences. The long arc is one of diversified cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, likely in combination with other bioactives. Many cannabinoids do similar things, because they are chemically similar. Certainly there are particular effects that are more pronounced in particular cannabinoids, but it would be a mistake to say that there is one cannabinoid that induces sleep and another that improves appetite. They are meant to work together