What are terpenes?

Terpenes are a large, chemically diverse class of organic compounds that are produced by a variety of plants and even some types of insects. They are classified by the number of isoprene units (a 5 carbon chain with 1 branch point) found within the molecule, a prefix in the name denotes the number of isoprene units present. Oftentimes, the word "terpene" is also used to refer to a class of compounds called terpenoids, which are modified terpenes that usually contain an oxygen atom or other modification. Both classes of compounds are responsible for various flavors and aromas produced by plants, including cannabis, and are primary constituents of plant essential oils.

How many classes of terpenes/terpenoids are there?

There are a total of 9 recognized classes of terpenes/terpenoids. Listed in order of increasing number of isoprene units, they are as follows: hemiterpenes (C5), monoterpenes (C10), sesquiterpenes (C15), diterpenes (C20), sesterterpenes (C25), triterpenes (C30), tetraterpenes (C40), and polyterpenes (>C40). Within these classes lies even greater diversity. For example, monoterpenes can either by linear or cyclic, and the location and presence of double bonds within the structure also adds to the diversity. On another end, monoterpenoids could have oxygen containing functional groups in different locations which would add another layer of diversity.

What types of uses/effects do terpenes have?

Terpenes/Terpenoids, due to their diverse nature, are used for a number of industrial applications and have a wide range of effects in a multitude of systems. In nature, plants likely produce terpenes as a form of deterrent towards herbivores or as an attractant towards predators and parasites of herbivores. In regards to industrial applications, their wide range of aromas allow for use as fragrances in perfumes, components of solvents, and as additives in cosmetics, foods, and natural pesticides. Terpenes also possess properties that make them ideal candidates for certain pharmaceutical and biotechnological applications. Their diverse structures allow for many different pharmacological effects. For example, alpha-pinene possesses anti-inflammatory properties, while the terpenoid carnosic acid has antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Terpenes have also gained notoriety more recently due to the proposal of the entourage effect observed following ingestion of different varieties of cannabis.

What is the entourage effect?

The entourage effect is the proposal that other compounds, presumably terpenes/terpenoids and other cannabinoids, modulate the psychoactive effects of THC. Initially, the term was used to describe the interaction of multiple endogenous compounds that displayed a cooperative effect in modulating endocannabinoid signalling. Since its initial use, it has since been expanded to describe polypharmacy effects of combined phytochemicals or whole plant extracts.

Why use terpenes from High Altitude Wellness?

We produce high quality hemp-derived terpene extracts using steam distillation. Our terpene extracts are sourced from multiple different hemp varieties and elicit a variety of smells and flavors. Our terpenes can be used for many different applications, including additions to edibles, lotions, perfumes, cleaners, CBD oils, and vape products. If you are interested in purchasing any of our terpenes, please visit our wholesale site Foothillsventures.com, or you can also purchase smaller amounts on our Shop All page.