The cannabis flower is loaded with some incredible compounds. Phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and terpenoids are just some of the compounds that affect the reception and experience of cannabis. Let’s dive into some cannabis chemistry!
Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are naturally found in the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are two phytocannabinoids that are also some of the most common chemical compounds found in the plant. However, there are also terpenes, waxes, chlorophyll, and more that develop in specific ratios depending on plant genetics, environment, and experiences during a plant’s growth cycle. A cannabis chemical variety (chemovar) has genetic properties that will predetermine a majority of the plant’s natural cannabinoid and terpene profile. Environmental conditions, however, seem to influence these profiles somewhat. For example, a Blue Dream in Colorado will be different from a Blue Dream in Washington State. These differences are more prominent in outdoor grown cannabis products. As one might expect, indoor growing facilities tend to produce a more consistent chemical profile regardless of location.
Cannabis extraction typically transforms the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of cannabis. Extracts consist of cannabis compounds in a concentrated form through extraction techniques, like Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction. Heylo aims to provide consumers with an experience similar to that which the source plant would provide. We believe nature knows best when it comes to curating chemical ratios. To mirror the source plant experience we strive to maintain the natural ratios that the original plant developed and limit fractioning and piecing together parts of the plant.
We strive to maintain the natural ratios (of THC, CBD and terpenes) that the plant developed
Although concentrated cannabis has historically been used since ancient Moroccan and Chinese civilizations (hashish), cannabis has become exponentially more concentrated in the past several decades. We now have cannabis plants that are producing flower with two to three times higher cannabinoid and terpene potency than forty years ago. Concentrates have also become more concentrated including products that are 95-99% pure THC or 95-99% pure CBD. Different products are entering the cannabis market every day. In order to find a desired experience, we have to understand what to look for.
So, here’s the low-down on cannabis concentrates.
THC is a psychoactive compound that, when inhaled or ingested, interacts with CB1 receptors that create euphoria (link to study). THC, in excess, is also the source of paranoia. (See Marinol)
CBD is non-psychoactive and non-intoxicating, when inhaled or ingested it interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors that affect many different parts of our body (include body map). CBD also acts as an agonist on the receptors that metabolize cannabinoids, so it blocks THC from the receptors by taking its place. In some hospitals, patients admitted for consuming an excess of cannabis are treated with CBD to reduce the effects of THC.
Terpenes are organic compounds that are produced by many plants. They produce a strong smell that plants use to protect themselves from pests, attract helpful predators and heal themselves when injured. Terpenes in cannabis not only influence the flavor and taste but also profoundly affect the experience and medical benefit of your high. There’s too much to cover with respect to terpenes in this post, so we’ll refer you to another blog post, Leafly and this helpful terpene infographic for the time being.
Too much of any one component of cannabis can thwart a beneficial high and reduce the synergistic Entourage Effect. The THC to CBD ratio is a key player in any cannabis experience. Finding the right balance for your body and your particular needs is critical.