Welcome to the next installment in the Talking Terpenes: Behind the Blends series. This collection of educational articles explores the biochemistry of a family of common organic molecules called terpenes. Each month, Extract Consultants publishes two new articles about the wellness benefits offered by terpenes and—more precisely—a specific and new collection of terpene blends.
This installment of the Talking Terpenes series explores the popular Extract Consultants AC/DC Blend. The formulation of this special terpene profile involved careful consideration of the biomechanical properties offered by each terpene. In addition, this blend considers the influence of the entourage effect, a theory that suggests a potential synergistic interplay of these aromatic compounds that results in enhanced medicinal efficacy.
Understanding AC/DC Blend Terpenes
The precision blend of terpenes featured in the solvent-free and powdered formulation of our AC/DC Blend results in a fragrance profile that is distinctly herbal and that delivers strong undertones of pepper and pine.
This special aroma is produced by a blend involving several terpenes, among which are alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, camphene, l-limonene, and myrcene. Beyond aroma, these terpenes convey medicinal benefits involving reductions in inflammation, anti-tumor mechanisms, and bronchodilation. They may also play a role in reducing convulsions and seizures in patients with conditions such as epilepsy.
AC/DC, in the form of the original cannabis cultivar, was bred by crossing the cultivar Cannatonic with a plant of the ruderalis variety (the third category of hemp plant beside indica and sativa). With such strong medicinal properties, our selection of AC/DC for a proprietary and solvent-free terpene blend was the proverbial no brainer.
Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene compose the pinene isomers, with the former considerably more common than its beta sibling. Also called α-pinene, this terpene holds the distinction of being the most common in nature. It is produced by hundreds of plant species, including—as its name implies—pine trees and coniferous varieties. Other plants producing alpha-pinene include basil, cannabis, eucalyptus, frankincense, oranges, parsley, rosemary, and sage.
Alpha-pinene results in a fragrance that is earthy while remaining fresh and musky. It conveys heavy undertones of pine, as one might expect. Commercial applications of this terpene include use as a fragrance in cosmetics and as a flavor agent by the food and beverage industries.
This common terpene exhibits a range of medicinal benefits, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. α-pinene is used to treat hundreds of diseases, including arthritis, cancer, and pain, and many others involving inflammation or infection.
Anecdotal reports indicate that α-pinene has also demonstrated the ability to elevate energy levels and sharpen mental focus. In addition, this terpene is one of a small group that acts as a bronchodilator, providing assistance to those with lung-related conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
A 2015 study entitled “Alpha-Pinene Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Activity” that was published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine explored the mechanisms by which alpha-pinene may reduce systemic inflammation and, thus, play the role of a potential treatment agent for a multitude of disease states. The researcher’s found that alpha-pinene “exhibits anti-inflammatory activity” through multiple mechanisms, some of which may be effective in the treatment of cancerous tumors.
The study’s authors concluded that their study data “indicate that α-pinene has an anti-inflammatory effect and that it is a potential candidate as a new drug to treat various inflammatory diseases.”
Beta-pinene (also called β-pinene) delivers medicinal value that is dominated by bronchodilation, similar to its isomer sibling alpha-pinene. Its fragrance profile is described as woody, earthy, and green with heavy undertones of fresh spice. This terpene is produced by basil, cannabis, dill, parsley, rose, and rosemary.
Beta-pinene has been shown to deliver analgesic qualities in addition to bronchodilation. It also displays anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antioxidant properties. This terpene may possess neurogenerative qualities of value to those suffering Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2018 study entitled “Comparative Study of Alpha‐ and Beta‐pinene Effect on PTZ‐induced Convulsions in Mice” that was published in the journal Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology investigated the ability of these terpenes to act as therapeutic agents in the treatment of conditions involving convulsions.
The researchers pointed to the appeal of terpenes such as beta-pinene based on the fact that “many anticonvulsant drugs present side effects which may limit their use” and how “many monoterpenes commonly present in essential oils are known [for] their anticonvulsant properties.”
The study concluded that beta-pinene may provide value in the decrease of convulsions and seizure activity. Interestingly, the study noted that alpha-pinene exhibited no such anticonvulsant quality.
Camphene is a common terpene that features an herbal aroma described as woodsy, damp, and pungent that features strong undertones of pine. It is similar to myrcene in aroma. Camphene is produced by several plant species other than cannabis and hemp, including bergamot, camphor, citronella, cypress, Douglas fir, ginger, neroli, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, and valerian.
From a medicinal perspective, this terpene exhibits a range of benefits. These include antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory efficacies. Research has also uncovered cardiovascular health value, pain relief, and a potential role in the treatment (and lowering) of cholesterol. In addition, camphene has been shown to demonstrate anticancer properties, specifically for breast cancer, including a role in causing apoptosis, the genetically preprogrammed “suicide” mechanism of cancer cells.
Some of the oils from which this terpene has been sourced were once used as lamp fuel, prior to the adoption of kerosene. Like many other terpenes, camphene is employed as a food additive and as an aroma agent by the cosmetics and topical industries (it is often combined with pinene).
A 2011 study entitled “Camphene, a Plant-Derived Monoterpene, Reduces Plasma Cholesterol and Triglycerides” that was published in the journal PLOS ONE investigated the ability of camphene to treat coronary heart disease. “Central to the pathology of coronary heart disease is the accumulation of lipids, cholesterol and triglycerides, within the intima of arterial blood vessels.” The study’s authors explored the use of camphene in the treatment of heart disease via the mechanism of lowered cholesterol.
The study found that camphene treatment resulted in “a dose-dependent reduction in the constitutive synthesis of serum cholesterol and triglycerides.” The researchers concluded that their study data was able to “provide insights into the use of camphene as an alternative lipid lowering agent.”
Myrcene, also denoted as β-myrcene, conveys an earthy, musky aroma dominated by fruity and clove-like tones. Its aroma is similar enough to that of camphene that the two are often confused. Myrcene is produced by a range of plant species, including cannabis/hemp, chamomile, hops, lemongrass, parsley, and wild thyme.
This common terpene is used in food as a flavor agent and in cosmetics for fragrance. It is the most common terpene produced by cannabis1. Myrcene is made in greatest quantities by indica and hybrid cultivars of the plant. This terpene is so common in cannabis that it sometimes composes up to 50 percent of the overall terpene volume of an individual plant.
A 2014 study entitled “Neuroprotective Effects of β-Myrcene Following Global Cerebral Ischemia/Reperfusion-Mediated Oxidative and Neuronal Damage” that was published in the journal Neurochemical Research explored “the effects of β-myrcene on oxidative and histological damage in brain tissue caused by global cerebral ischemia/reperfusion...in mice.”
The researchers found that myrcene treatment “protected against the oxidative effects of I/R” and that multiple neurodegenerative effects “were eliminated by myrcene treatment.” They concluded that myrcene “effectively attenuates oxidative and histological damage in the brain.”
L-limonene is produced by cannabis and a variety of other plants, including several species of mint, pine needles, and pine cones. As such, it conveys an aroma that is dominated by pine, with strong undertones of turpentine. Chemical cousin and isomer D-limonene features a similar fragrance, but one that is more citrus in profile. In nature, pinene and both limonene isomers often appear in the same chemotypes and cultivars of cannabis and hemp. D-limonene, however, is considerably more common than its l-limonene sibling.
Both limonene isomers feature the same chemical formula, but different molecular structures. They are found most commonly in “sativa” varieties of marijuana and are known for being energizing and uplifting. Both have proven, in a range of research studies, to deliver anti-inflammatory and antioxidant medicinal benefits and may be therapeutic for patients with intestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Its strong anti-inflammatory properties may make l-limonene of value in the treatment of a variety of cancers. The limonene and pinene terpene isomers have also shown benefit for lung conditions such as allergies, asthma, and bronchitis due to their effect of bronchodilation.
A 2013 study entitled “Chemical Composition and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Essential Oil from Hallabong Flower” that was published in the EXCLI Journal investigated the ability of a variety of terpenes, including l-limonene, to combat systemic inflammation and cancer.
“In the present study, we also investigated the anti-inflammatory effects” of a variety of terpenes, including sabinene, terpinene, l-limonene, linalool, b-ocimene, and terpineol. The study’s researchers observed evidence that essential oils containing terpenes such as l-limonene “downregulated the production of...inflammatory cytokines” and had a positive effect on decreasing inflammation.
The researchers concluded that terpenes such as l-limonene and the terpene-rich essential oils that contain them “can be considered potential anti-inflammatory candidates for therapeutic use in humans” while identifying a potential role in the treatment of cancer.
The terpenes produced by the AC/DC cultivar are but a few of the more than 40,000 varieties found throughout nature. While no terpene can claim exclusivity to cannabis, all cannabinoids are, conversely, produced by only marijuana. To learn more about the fundamental biochemistry of terpenes, see Understanding Terpenes.
The solvent-free and powdered AC/DC Blend from Extract Consultants offers a carefully formulated mix of terpenes, in the perfect ratios, that produce an intense aroma described as herbal with undertones of pepper and sometimes pine. Notable benefits of this terpene blend encompass anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, among others.
To follow this series on social media, use the hashtag #TalkingTerpenes.
1Mediavilla, Vito and Simon Steinemann, 1997. Essential Oil of Cannabis Sativa L. Strains. Journal of the International Hemp Association 4(2): 80-82.
About the Author
Curt Robbins is a technical writer, instructional designer, and lecturer who has been developing science-based educational and training content for Fortune 200 enterprise companies for more than 30 years. He is Director of Course Development at Higher Learning LV™ in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robbins began writing about the biochemistry and science of the various wellness molecules produced by plants such as hemp in 2003. He has since developed more than 600 educational articles about hemp and its health components—including terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and the human endocannabinoid system.