Welcome to the Talking Terpenes: Behind the Blends education series. This collection of instructional articles explores the biochemistry of a common family of organic molecules called terpenes. Each month, Extract Consultants publishes two new articles that investigate the medicinal benefits offered by terpenes and—more specifically—terpene blends. This series includes frequent citations to peer-reviewed scientific research and evidence-based data.
This installment of the Talking Terpenes series explores the popular Extract Consultants Sour Diesel Blend. The formulation of this special terpene mixture involved careful consideration for the biomechanical properties and chemical profiles delivered by each terpene. In addition, this mix considers the influence of the entourage effect, a theory regarding the synergistic interplay of these aromatic compounds.
Understanding Sour Diesel Terpenes
The unique mixture of terpenes featured in the formulation of our Sour Diesel Blend (sometimes denoted as “Sour D”) produces a pungent fragrance profile that is described as “diesel-like” and “chemical” in tone.
This blend is characteristic of the sativa-leaning Sour Diesel cannabis cultivar (strain) that inspired its formulation. This storied variety results from the breeding of the classic cannabis cultivars Chemdog 91 and Super Skunk. Sour Diesel is categorized as a sativa and features energizing cerebral effects that are sometimes described as “dreamy.”
Better Botanical Sources
Extract Consultants employs a strategic focus on maintaining the long-term availability of the botanical sources of its terpenes. Those involved in the Sour Diesel Blend have been researched and selected based on their ability to produce a consistent experience for customers and end consumers.
This allows the terpene products from Extract Consultants to avoid the inconsistencies between production batches that plague some competing products. This ensures a terpene extraction process that is exceptionally accurate and repeatable.
The Sour Diesel Blend incorporates several terpenes, including the six described below. Each of these special phytomolecules plays a critical role in production of the unique aroma and flavor profiles delivered by this blend. Individually, these terpenes provide a wide range of medicinal benefits, as revealed in the research study citations featured below.
Alpha-pinene is one of a pair of pinene terpenes (called isomers) that includes beta-pinene (described below). Also known as α-pinene, it is a major terpene and holds the distinction of being the most common in nature. As such, it is produced by hundreds of plant species, including coniferous trees and pines. Other sources of α-pinene include basil, cannabis, eucalyptus, frankincense, oranges, parsley, rosemary, and sage.
This common compound delivers an aroma described as earthy, fresh, musky, and—as one might expect based on its name—pine-like. Commercial use of alpha-pinene includes applications as a flavor agent in food and as a fragrance in cosmetics. Research has revealed a range of medicinal benefits of this terpene, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. This efficacy set makes pinene of benefit in the treatment of literally hundreds of diseases, including common ones that collectively affect hundreds of millions of patients such as arthritis, cancer, and pain.
Pinene has also demonstrated the ability to improve mental focus and boost energy levels. In addition, this terpene acts as a bronchodilator, providing assistance to those with asthma, bronchitis, and related respiratory conditions.
A 2018 study entitled “α-Pinene Inhibits Human Prostate Cancer Growth” that was published in the journal Chemotherapy investigated the use of pinene to fight this particular type of cancer. The researchers reported that “substantial evidence shows that α-pinene has cancer prevention properties.”
The study’s authors “found that treatment with α-pinene significantly inhibited human prostate cancer cell growth and induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest.” The researchers observed that “tumor progression was inhibited more in mice treated with α-pinene than in control subjects.” The study concluded that “α-pinene inhibits prostate cancer growth...and may be an effective therapeutic agent for prostate cancer treatment.”
The sibling to alpha-pinene, beta-pinene (also known as β-pinene) is a minor terpene that produces an efficacy set dominated by bronchodilation (similar to α-pinene). The aroma profile of this terpene is described as “woody-green” and fresh and spicier than its isomer twin α-pinene. β-pinene can be found in a range of botanical sources, including basil, cannabis, dill, parsley, rose, and rosemary.
In addition, this terpene has also been shown to possess analgesic (pain killing) qualities. Like α-pinene, beta-pinene displays anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. It acts as an antioxidant and has shown neurogenerative qualities, making it of potential benefit to patients with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2016 study entitled “Comparative Study on Chemical Profiling and Antimicrobial Properties of Essential Oil” that was published in the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge explored the ability of beta-pinene and alpha-pinene to deliver antifungal and antibacterial benefits.
The researchers concluded that the essential oil tested, which contained alpha-pinene and beta-pinene in bud oil (“21.71% and 14.20%, respectively”) and even larger volumes of these terpenes from the stem oil of the plant (“32.25% and 19.20%” respectively) delivered several medicinal benefits. “These essential oils exhibited potent antifungal and antibacterial activities.” Further, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties were identified by the study.
Beta-caryophyllene, commonly referred to as BCP (and sometimes β-caryophyllene or merely caryophyllene), conveys an aroma dominated by scents of pepper and undertones of spice. This major (primary) terpene is produced by basil, black caraway, cannabis, cinnamon, clove, copaiba, hops, lavender, oregano, rosemary, and ylang-ylang.
Research has shown that BCP provides a range of medicinal benefits, including relief from pain, inflammation, and depression. This unique organic compound also displays antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
BCP is one of the only terpenes that interacts directly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This aberrant behavior has caused some scientists to question if this compound should be considered a cannabinoid and not a terpene. A 2008 research study noted that BCP demonstrates the ability to bind with CB2 receptors in the human ECS, something that is normally accomplished only by cannabinoids, not terpenes.
A 2019 study entitled “Beta-caryophyllene Enhances Wound Healing Through Multiple Routes” that was published in the journal PLOS ONE investigated the ability of BCP to expedite the body’s healing mechanism. The researchers hypothesized that BCP, because of its unique ability to bind with CB2 receptors in the ECS, may be an effective analgesic. “Activation of CB2 will decrease pain, a major signal for inflammatory responses. We hypothesized that beta-caryophyllene can affect wound healing by decreasing inflammation.”
The study’s authors concluded that BCP and other terpenes found in a number of essential oils may expedite the healing of wounds via a variety of underlying mechanisms. “Our study suggests that chemical compounds included in essential oils have the capability to improve wound healing, an effect generated by synergetic impacts of multiple pathways.”
The terpene citral manifests as two distinct isomers, geranial (Citral A) and neral (Citral B). To add confusion to the issue, literature references to citral frequently employ the name “geranial,” but sometimes instead use “lemonal.” This set of terpenes is produced by cannabis, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, lime, and orange, among several other plant species.
As its name suggests, citral conveys an aroma that is heavily citrus in nature, making it similar to its chemical cousin and fellow terpene limonene. As readers might expect, the two terpene isomers, geranial and neral, convey aroma and flavor profiles dominated by citrus tones and, more specifically, lemon. In terms of both aroma and flavor, the one-word takeaway for this pair of terpene isomers is, without question, “lemon.”
It should be noted that neral delivers a less intense, but sweeter, version of lemon. Both terpenes are employed as aroma and flavor agents by the cosmetics and food industries. Like other terpenes, geranial and neral exhibit a variety of medicinal benefits, most notable of which is their anticancer efficacy for a number of types of the deadly disease.
A 2018 study entitled “Induction of Programmed Cell Death by Essential Oils and Their Major and Synergistic Terpenes” that was published in the journal BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies explored the “inhibitory properties” of three terpenes (caryophyllene oxide, citral, and limonene) in the treatment of a tropical infection called Chagas Disease.
In support of the entourage effect, the research identified how some of the terpenes interacted to produce enhanced efficacy. “Limonene exhibited synergistic interaction with citral, caryophyllene oxide, and benznidazole,” reported the study’s authors.
The research determined that the terpenes exhibit a mechanism called apoptosis in which they force diseased cells to invoke a genetically pre-programmed “suicide” process in which they basically kill themselves. Several cannabinoids and terpenes also cause apoptosis in a variety of types of cancer. The study concluded that citral was effective against Chagas Disease due to its ability to induce “T. cruzi cell death by an apoptotic-like mechanism.”
Interestingly, the study’s authors found that one of the terpenes in the essential oil was more powerful than citral in this particular application, but that the presence of both terpenes was better than an isolate of either due to their synergistic interplay. “The best selective anti-T. cruzi activity was achieved by limonene, the effects of which were synergic with citral.”
Limonene, also referred to as D-limonene, is a major terpene and the second most common in nature (behind pinene). It results in a primarily citrus aroma that is sometimes intense. Limonene is produced by a large number of cannabis cultivars and is also found in fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, and orange.
A significant efficacy delivered by limonene is that of bronchodilation. It is found commonly in “sativa” varieties of cannabis and conveys an uplifting, energized state. It also provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and may be helpful for those suffering intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease.
Limonene’s anti-inflammatory characteristic, combined with its bronchodilation properties, makes it potentially effective as a therapeutic agent for those suffering allergies, asthma, and bronchitis.
A 2018 study entitled “Biochemical Significance of Limonene: Future Prospects for Designing and Developing Highly Potent Anticancer Drugs” that was published in the journal Bioscience Reports investigated the ability of the second most common terpene in nature to effectively treat cancer.
“Limonene and its metabolites have demonstrated numerous biochemical effects as chemotherapeutic agents. They are recognized as anticancer agents owing to their ability to induce apoptosis,” reported the study’s authors.
It was found that limonene and other terpenes “inhibited the proliferation of lung cancer cells.” The research noted that this terpene also provides efficacy for several other types of cancer. “In recent times, limonene and other dietary monoterpenes have demonstrated some degree of chemotherapeutic activity against lung, pancreatic, mammary, liver, colon, and prostatic tumor models,” wrote the scientists.
Myrcene, also known as β-myrcene, is the most common terpene produced by cannabis1. It conveys an earthy, musky aroma dominated by fruity and clove-like tones and is found in a variety of plant species. These include cannabis, chamomile, hops, lemongrass, parsley, and wild thyme. Myrcene is used in food and cosmetics as a flavor and fragrance agent, respectively.
This terpene is produced in greatest volumes by cultivars of cannabis that are categorized as indica or hybrid. Myrcene can compose up to 50 percent of the terpene volume of an individual cannabis plant.
A 2020 study entitled “Anti-Cancer Potential of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids Present in Cannabis” that was published in the journal Cancers explored how these three sets of phytomolecules display anticancer effects “by suppressing the proliferation, migration, and/or invasion of cancer cells, as well as tumor angiogenesis.”
Myrcene was found to display “cytotoxic [cell killing] effects” against several lines of cancer—including cervical, lung, colon, and leukemia—and to decrease DNA damage. “In a screen of 12 monoterpenes, myrcene exhibited significant cytotoxicity against leukemia cells,” reported the study’s authors.
The terpenes produced by the Sour Diesel 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 (such as cannabidiol [CBD] and tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) are, conversely, produced by only marijuana. To learn more about the fundamental biochemistry of terpenes, see Understanding Terpenes.
The Sour Diesel Blend from Extract Consultants offers a meticulously formulated group of terpenes, in the optimal ratios, that produce an intense aroma described as sharp, diesel, and of a pleasingly chemical nature. The most notable benefits of the terpenes that compose the Sour Diesel Blend include anti-inflammatory effects, bronchodilation, improved energy, and anticancer properties.
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.