Welcome to the Talking Terpenes: Behind the Blends education series. This article collection explores the science and biochemistry of a common family of natural molecules called terpenes. Each month, Extract Consultants will share two new articles that investigate the characteristics and medicinal benefits offered by terpenes and terpene blends—with a focus on peer-reviewed scientific research.
This installment of the Talking Terpenes series explores the organic Headband Blend from Extract Consultants. The crafting of this special terpene blend involves strategic observation of the biomechanics and wellness profiles delivered not only by each terpene, but also consideration for the influence of the entourage effect (a theory regarding the synergistic interplay of a mix of these aromatic compounds).
The relative ratios in which any mix of terpenes are blended determines the effect achieved, including aroma and flavor profiles. It is helpful for readers to understand that the same overall volume of terpene molecules arranged in different relative ratios will result in a sometimes markedly varied aroma profile and overall medicinal efficacy.
Understanding Headband Terpenes
The particular mix of organic terpenes employed in the formulation of the Extract Consultants Headband Blend delivers an aroma profile that is described as featuring tones of lemon and diesel. This blend is characteristic of the hybrid Headband cultivar (strain) that inspired its formulation, which results from the breeding of the classic cannabis cultivars OG Kush and Sour Diesel.
Curated Botanical Sources
Extract Consultants strives to ensure the long-term availability of botanical terpene sources. The botanical sources of the terpenes composing its Headband Blend have been carefully selected to ensure a consistent experience for both customers and end consumers. This allows our products to avoid inconsistencies between production batches and, in the process, to ensure an extraction process that is exceptionally accurate and repeatable.
The Headband Blend from Extract Consultants involves a number of terpenes, including the five varieties described below. Each terpene contributes to the unique lemon aroma delivered by this blend while, individually, providing particular medicinal benefits.
Alpha-phellandrene, also known as α-phellandrene and α-PA, is a minor terpene and, as its name implies, one of a pair of siblings involving beta-phellandrene (similar to the alpha-pinene/beta-pinene coupling). When isolated, this terpene delivers a minty and often citrus-like aroma that is sometimes described as spicy, woody, and peppery.
Alpha-phellandrene is produced by a wide range of plant species other than hemp and cannabis, including angelica, cinnamon, dill, several species of eucalyptus, ginger grass, lavender, mint, parsley, and pine. When employed as a flavor agent in cosmetics and topicals, this terpene offers the advantage of ready absorption by the skin.
Alpha-phellandrene is commonly used in commercial fragrances. Like many other terpenes and cannabinoids produced by hemp and cannabis, alpha-phellandrene has been found to provide multiple wellness efficacies, including pronounced anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain killing), antifungal, and anticancer properties.
A 2014 study entitled “Induction of Necrosis in Human Liver Tumor Cells by α-phellandrene” that was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer investigated the ability of alpha-phellandrene to treat cancer. The researchers observed not only the ability of this terpene to treat liver cancer, but identified some of the underlying mechanisms by which a-phellandrene achieves this efficacy.
“Results found that α-PA significantly decreased the cell viability of J5 [cancer] cells after 24 [hours of] treatment,” reported the researchers. They concluded, “These results suggest that α-PA induced J5 [liver cancer] cell necrosis [death].”
Limonene, also called D-limonene, is a major terpene that delivers a primarily citrus aroma. It is produced by a significant percentage of hemp and cannabis cultivars and in copious quantities by citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, and orange.
One of the primary efficacies of limonene is its ability to act as a bronchodilator (similar to alpha-pinene and beta-pinene). This characteristic makes it potentially effective as a therapeutic agent for those suffering allergies, asthma, and bronchitis. In volume and when isolated, limonene becomes flammable. This terpene is also categorized as a biofuel.
A 2017 study entitled “D-limonene Exhibits Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties” that was published in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports explored the overall efficacy of limonene. The researchers identified the distinct anticancer properties of this terpene, finding that it “demonstrated...important immunomodulatory properties, including antitumor effects.” The study identified additional wellness properties of this terpene, including its ability to “alleviate asthma and allergies.”
Humulene, also called alpha-caryophyllene, alpha-humulene, and α-humulene, offers an efficacy profile that is similar to another terpene in this blend, limonene. As such, humulene has demonstrated therapeutic benefits for inflammation, cancer, and pain. The aroma of this terpene is woody, earthy, and spicy. It has been described as “hoppy” because it is produced in such abundant quantities by the hops used to brew beer.
Humulene derives its name from the Latin Humulus Lupulus, which means “hops” in English. Beyond hops, hemp, and cannabis, humulene is produced by many species of trees. It is also found in basil, clove, and sage. Humulene is similar in chemical formula to beta-caryophyllene and the two share many common plant species sources. In addition, the aroma of these two terpenes is similar enough that they sometimes are confused with one other.
Humulene has proven to display a variety of therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antibacterial qualities. It may also serve as an effective analgesic. Two important studies have demonstrated the anticancer and anti-inflammatory efficacy of this terpene.
The first, a 2003 study entitled “Antitumor Activity of Balsam Fir Oil: Alpha-humulene as Possible Mechanism of Action” found that humulene produces antitumor activity “against several solid [cancer] tumor cell lines.”
The second, a 2007 study entitled “Anti-inflammatory Effects of Compounds Alpha-humulene and Trans-caryophyllene” investigated the ability of humulene to reduce inflammation and, in the process, provide relief from certain diseases that are based in inflammation. “These findings indicate that alpha-humulene...might represent [an] important tool for the management and/or treatment of inflammatory diseases,” concluded the study’s authors.
Linalool, also called beta-linalool, is a minor (secondary/tertiary) terpene that delivers a sweet aroma involving floral undertones. It is produced by a range of plants other than cannabis, including basil, bay leaf, fungi, ho leaf (Chinese rosewood), and lavender. It has been shown to reduce convulsions in those who suffer epilepsy and shows promise in the treatment of anxiety. This includes panic attacks and the symptoms of psychological diseases such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
Linalool is an analgesic and, similar to myrcene, can act as a sedative in the proper dose. Like the majority of terpenes and cannabinoids, it provides anti-inflammatory properties of use in the treatment of literally hundreds of disease states and conditions. In addition, linalool has repeatedly demonstrated anticancer characteristics in research studies.
Two of the major benefits of linalool include effectiveness for those who suffer epilepsy (via a reduction in seizure activity) and a variety of types of cancer. A 2010 study entitled “Anticonvulsant Activity of Linalool” found the terpene to be an effective agent in the treatment of epilepsy. The researchers “demonstrated that the [terpene has]...qualitative anticonvulsant activity.”
A 2003 study entitled “Antileukemic Activity of Selected Natural Products” investigated the ability of linalool to treat cancer, specifically leukemia. “We conclude that terpenes and flavonoids...possess strong activity against lymphoma and leukemia cells, especially human lymphoma cells, suggesting the potential use of these compounds for treatment of lymphoma,” reported the study’s authors.
Terpinolene is a common and major terpene that, when isolated, produces an aroma that is sweetly floral with undertones of pine. It produces a citrus-like flavor. Terpinolene is found in a range of plant species outside of cannabis, including allspice, cumin, juniper, parsnip, rosemary, sage, and tea tree.
This terpene is employed by the food industry as a flavor agent and is sometimes an ingredient in the production of plastics. Terpinolene is also applied as an insect repellent. The most pronounced medicinal benefit of this terpene is its anticancer efficacy. Like myrcene and linalool, terpinolene acts as a sedative in the proper dose.
A 2012 study entitled “Terpinolene, a Component of Herbal Sage, Downregulates [Cancer] Cells” concluded that this terpene may be an effective agent in the treatment of a range of cancer types.
The study’s authors found terpinolene to be involved in a mechanism that benefits cancer patients. “Increased expression and/or activation of AKT is involved in a variety of human cancers,” reported the researchers. “In cells treated with sage or rosemary extract [containing terpinolene], mRNA and protein expression levels of AKT1 were reduced compared with those of the control cells 48 hours after the herbal treatments,” summarized the scientists.
The terpenes produced by the Headband cannabis cultivar are only a few of the 40,000 varieties that exist throughout nature. While no terpene can claim exclusivity to cannabis, all cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol [CBD] and tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) are, conversely, found only in cannabis. To learn more about the fundamental biochemistry of terpenes, see Understanding Terpenes.
The Headband Blend from Extract Consultants offer a carefully formulated mix of terpenes that produce an earthy, woody fragrance and a range of medicinal effects. The most notable benefits of the terpenes that compose the Headband Blend include anti-inflammatory effects, reductions in anxiety, and anticancer properties.
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.