All Aboard the Terpene Train

At Avitas we think about terpenes a lot. They’re a crucial part of how we make the best cannabis oil cartridges in the industry. You may have read about our oil production techniques and how we remove cannabis plant terpenes at the beginning of each batch and then hand blend those same terpenes back in before that batch of oil is complete. But do you know why? Today, we wanted to dive in and explore just what terpenes are and why cannabis terpenes are a vital part of great cannabis extract.

Talking Terps

Herb defines terpenes as “...oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell.” However, terpenes are not just found in cannabis plants. You know those essential oils that that one person in your life won’t stop raving about? They’re packed with-- you guessed it--terpenes. Terpenes interact with our bodies in some amazing ways. For instance, tea tree oil is filled with terpinen-4-ol, γ-terpinene, and limonene all of which work together to bring you the antibacterial punch of tea tree oil. Lavender oil is similarly stuffed with terpenes including linalool, which gives lavender its unique scent and flavor. Lavender oil is thought to be soothing and may help people sleep or aid anxiety.

Cannabis Terpenes

In cannabis plants, the terpenes appear mainly in the same place we find the cannabinoids: the flower’s sticky resin glands. There are over a hundred terpenes found in cannabis plants, but the six most common are myrcene, linalool, caryophyllene, limonene, humulene, and pinene. They each have unique characteristics and when combined in different ways, give each strain its unique features and aroma. This is why we think it’s so important to preserve all of them, so our finished oil tastes and feels like the flower from which it was made. However, there’s also another, a less well-understood reason for the preservation of terpenes in cannabis oil cartridges.

The Entourage Effect

You may know about the main cannabinoids like THC and CBD and their role in cannabis. However, it’s clear that it’s not just the cannabinoids that work such wonders in our bodies: terpenes and other phytocompounds work in concert with the cannabinoids to impart medicinal and psychoactive effects. This phenomenon is what’s known as the “entourage effect.” Essentially, it’s the combination of everything working together that’s important—not just isolating a single active ingredient which is typical for modern pharmaceutical formulations. For more information on the entourage effect and its possible ramifications, check out this great article from Leafly. Since there are so many different terpenes that appear in different amounts, and many other compounds also present, there’s still a lot to learn about how they interact with each other and in our bodies.

From aroma to effectiveness, cannabis terpenes turbocharge our experience. That’s why we believe it’s so important to preserve and reintegrate them into our world-class cannabis oils and extracts. We never use terpenes from other plants or lab-synthesized terpenes the way other brands may because we believe that the whole plant is essential and we want you to have the best vaping experience possible. That’s just the Avitas way.

Limonene & the Wonderful World of Terpenes

Cannabis is so much more than a single cannabinoid. Believe it or not, there are over 113 cannabinoids in this wonder plant. Science hasn’t yet been able to plumb the depths of cannabis entirely, and there’s still a lot we don’t understand. According to the book Brave New Weed, we now know that “ isn’t simply THC in cannabis that causes the high and delivers therapeutic effectiveness. Hundreds of other compounds—CBD, terpenes, phytochemicals, flavonoids, and other so-called minor cannabinoids—all work together to create an ensemble, or entourage effect.”

When we create our full spectrum oil, we bend over backward to make sure that we preserve that effect. At the beginning of our process, we painstakingly remove the terpenes and other compounds so that we can add them back into the purified oil, whole and hearty and ready to do their jobs. So just what are terpenes and why are they so important to preserve?

To help answer, let’s take a closer look at one terpene. A powerhouse of a chemical called limonene. If you’ve ever smoked a strain that reminds you of oranges or lemons, it’s likely that you’ve tasted this citrusy delight. In fact, two of our own oils, Lemon OG and Dragon OG, have very high concentrations of limonene. Cannabists everywhere love this terpene for its refreshing, uplifting, and creative effects. Not to mention, who doesn’t crave that citrus smell?

Above and beyond the effects mentioned above, limonene is also known to relieve stress and help soothe heartburn and gastric reflux. It’s also shown to have antifungal and antibacterial properties and to improve absorption of other terpenes and chemicals by way of the skin, mucous membranes, and digestive tract (a major piece of that whole entourage effect thing we’ve been talking about).

So, this explains why we make such a big deal about using our unique whole plant extraction technique and preserving our terpenes. It’s not just the THC or the CBD; the whole plant is key in bringing you the most holistic cannabis oil experience possible. We think it’s important to pack our golden goodness with the full wallop of this amazing plant and after you try it, we think you will too.

What to Look for in a Cannabis Oil Cartridge

Not all cannabis products are created equal. At Avitas, we’re striving to create that better world, we put our heart and soul into our cannabis oil and work with world-class manufacturers to bring you the purest cartridges possible. But what if you can't find your tried and true Avitas friend? We got you. Here are a few ways to help figure out what may be worth a try.

Why Many Added Flavors Are Not Your Friend

You’ve probably seen them. Cotton candy, raspberry, mint, and rose, there are flavors on flavors available in all sorts of cartridges, and they may sound pretty tasty. However, you might want to do your research and think twice before picking up a flavored vape pen. Many manufacturers add any number of ingredients back into the oil at the end to achieve those flavors. This dilutes the cannabis oil and potentially dampens the entourage effect of vaping. These added ingredients can include synthetic terpenes, natural terpenes, cannabis-derived terpenes, artificial aldehydes/fruity flavors, or other artificial flavors. Most of these elements are fine on their own, but when heated, some can become carcinogenic and ultimately dangerous to your health. Read more about this phenomenon here.

That’s why we use a handcrafted, full spectrum, proprietary method that extracts the cannabis terpenes from each batch of flower at the very beginning of the oil-making procedure. At the end of the process, we remove the things that don’t taste good like chlorophyll and plant waxes and carefully hand-blend the full spectrum of terpenes back into the oil batch. The result is a pure, finished oil that smells, tastes, and feels like the actual flower it came from without any nasty or surprising additives.

Cut Out Cutting Agents

When you’re looking for a good cartridge, double check the ingredients, and ask about the extraction methods. Remember that extracts and distillates are not the same (if a distillate is in liquid form, most likely there’s a cutting agent involved). Common cutting agents include propylene glycol (PG), polyethylene glycol (PEG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Cutting agents aren’t necessarily harmful in and of themselves, but again, the trouble comes when these cutting agents are heated. Recent studies have shown that many cutting agents convert into toxic compounds when heated at vaping temperatures. (finish with: something like - ask your budtender for more information about the...something...about the oils to try or the available oils, something- sorry, not much help on this line)

That Pure Golden Goodness

At Avitas we use CO2 extraction methods and only use six ingredients in our oil. Six! They include pure carbon dioxide (delivered and stored in pressurized tanks), food-grade ethanol (another term for highly pure Everclear), purified reverse-osmosis water, solid CO2 (carbon dioxide), and, of course, organically grown cannabis. That’s it. We don’t use cutting agents, we never add anything to increase vapor plume or increase THC uptake, and we never use any flavors other than the full spectrum of terpenes extracted from the cannabis plant.

So when you’re on the hunt for a new product, do your research beforehand, steer away from flavors, and ask your budtender specific questions about cutting agents, ingredients, and extraction processes. They’re there to help and are usually really excited to share their knowledge. And remember, if your local store doesn’t carry our cartridges, you can always ask them to start stocking Avitas. We’re proud of our oil and love helping people discover new ways to feel good.  If you have any more questions, drop us a comment or contact us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Six behind-the-scenes things Avitas customers should know about

There are lots of topics I want to write about on this blog, but it will take a little time to cover all of them individually.  In the meantime, I put together an overview of some of the things we do behind the scenes that other extractors either aren’t doing at all, or are not devoting nearly the amount of energy or resources that we are.  The sentences with an *asterisk* I definitely plan to write more in-depth entries.  As always, if there are questions you have, leave them in the comments!

  1. We’re fanatics about testing everything for pesticides as it comes into our facility
    1. many people claim to have 100% organic products, but analytical labs report finding banned pesticides in many products on the shelf (between 40-80% in WA and 20-30% in OR have some sort of detected banned pesticide!*)
    2. this comes at considerable cost to us, as each test is over $300. When I discuss results with the scientists at the analytical labs, they tell me they don’t have other extract labs testing their trim material.
  2. The only chemicals in our extract and process labs (aside from organic cannabis) are:
    • pure COcarbon dioxide (comes in pressurized tanks)
    • Food-grade ethanol (fancy talk for highly pure EverclearTM)
    • Purified reverse-osmosis water
    • Solid CO2 (carbon dioxide) + rubbing alcohol (for our cold traps, does not contact product)

–we don’t use cutting agents like PG, VG, artificial flavors* or other fillers.

3. We carefully keep each harvested strain as a separate batch*

  • Sometimes we get a large batch, sometimes we get a small batch – that’s part of being reliant on a perishable/seasonal feedstock! To ensure the finished oil smells, tastes and experiences as close to the actual flower as possible, we don’t mix strains in our extractors.  That means our finished batch sizes are variable and it’s not always possible to find the exact same product month after month in your favorite retailer.

4. We enhance our finished oil with the full spectrum of terpenes collected in-house from each batch

  • previous blog post was written about terpenes, but the summary is: most companies who claim to have “terpene-enhanced” product are not getting them from cannabis and most folks have no idea where the source of these additives might be coming from*…..

5.  We spend more than most companies in research and development (R&D) of our procedure, tracking the cannabinoids and terpenes, fine-tuning our processing steps to optimize and improve the overall product.

  • We have a full-time PhD chemist leading our scientific team
  • We don’t currently have the expensive in-house analytical equipment, so it’s necessary to partner with outside analytical labs, which comes at no small cost to us, but it’s important to us that we feel confident we’re offering a clean and safe product*.

6.  Multi-point quality control checkpoints integrated along the process line*

  • I already discussed the additional pesticide screening before extraction above. We also check each batch for:
    • viscosity (how “thick” the oil is – for example, honey is very viscous, while water is much less)
    • color/clarity on visual standard scale
  • cartridge performance and reliability*: we have personal relationships with the overseas manufacturers of the cartridges and have been testing out many different iterations to ensure they have a smooth product delivery each time.

As you can see, we utilize top-level science and clean, organic processes to create a premium product for our customers and patients.