Terpenes are tiny, aromatic compounds found in plants, including cannabis. With over 1,000 unique compounds in cannabis, around 250 of these are terpenes. Each strain has its own unique terpene profile, which can affect its flavor and effects. Scientists have begun to explore the variety of ways that terpenes can be engineered to create targeted and consistent effects, from anxiety relief to sleep enhancement and more. Terpenes are a growing topic of conversation in the cannabis industry, as new companies want to offer targeted solutions to differentiate their brand and attract attention.
One of the most promising recent applications of this new method was in the development of NT-VRL, a data-driven formulation of terpenes selected for their proven anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. The formulation, which was tested in combination with CBD in two validated biological in-vitro models, demonstrated potential for treating inflammatory conditions such as the deadly cytokine storm syndrome found in Covid-19 patients. In the end, NT-VRL combined with CBD proved twice as effective as CBD alone, and twice as effective as dexamethasone, a corticosteroid recommended by the World Health Organization to treat patients with severe Covid-19.
The market for live resin extracts has grown rapidly in recent years, signaling an important shift in consumer preference. As cannabis industrializes and puts a plethora of processed and cured products on dispensary shelves, consumers are seeking out the authentic flavors and aromas of the fresh living plant. By mapping exactly how specific terpene levels change over time, this research empowers product makers to reproduce the cannabis experience at its aromatic peak across form factors, using terpene formulations customized to match the desired experience or flower of origin.
With thousands of different products claiming specific characteristics, each with slight variations, the full intended experience of legacy strains is being muddled. This lack of a standard may seem like a secondary concern; however, it dismisses the rich history of cannabis and undercuts consistency and reliability that brands owe all consumers in order to continue building trust. Terpene science emerged as a solution to bring consumers back to an authentic and reliable cannabis experience.
The role of terpenes in cannabis is still a young field of scientific inquiry and experimentation. With new research emerging regularly, the cannabis industry is still scratching the surface of what these hundreds of different compounds are capable of. One thing is clear: the future of cannabis is targeted, authentic, and data-driven health and wellness solutions that harness terpenes’ potential as powerful therapeutic agents.