Welcome to Talking Terpenes: Behind the Blends, the research-based educational series that delves into the science and biochemistry of the organic molecules produced by cannabis, hemp, and 20,000 other plant species called terpenes. Readers learn about the wellness benefits offered by terpenes and how terpene blends—such as those offered by Extract Consultants—provide both enhanced medicinal efficacy and uniquely layered fragrances.
This installment of Talking Terpenes explores the popular Extract Consultants solvent-free Blue Zkittlez Blend. The formulation of this dynamic terpene profile involved careful consideration of the nuanced biomechanical properties offered by each individual terpene, as well as their combined effects.
The balanced terpenes featured in the formulation of our Blue Zkittlez Blend produces a fragrant bouquet that includes tart citrus and earth gently punctuated by undertones of fluid sweetness. Comprised of the terpenes citronellol, fenchol, humulene, linalool, and several others, Blue Zkittlez is popular due to its wide range of wellness benefits and enticing aroma profile.
The cannabis cultivar Blue Zkittlez results from the masterful combination of the genetics from Zkittlez and Blue Diamond, a famous indica. The combination has produced a cultivar that delivers a mellow, moderately sedating effect and a range of wellness and lifestyle benefits.
Citronellol, also known as dihydrogeraniol, is a minor (secondary) terpene of the cannabis plant. Technically, this molecule is a terpenoid, not a terpene, but the difference is minor—and doesn’t affect the potency of its delicious floral aroma that mixes with delicate undertones of citrus and rose. This terpenoid is produced by roughly 70 different plant species other than hemp and cannabis, including basil, chamomile, citronella, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, neroli, and rose.
Citronellol, which is related to geraniol (both are produced by geranium), is unique not solely because of its own aroma, but more so due to the fact that it enhances other fragrances (specifically rose). It is employed as an aroma ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products and has been used as a mosquito repellant for millennia.
The medicinal efficacy of this terpene includes anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties and reductions in seizure activity. The latter quality makes this terpene of special value to those who suffer epilepsy and other seizure- or convulsion-related conditions.
Medicinal Research on Citronellol
A 2006 study entitled “Study of Anticonvulsant Effect of Citronellol” that was published in the journal Neuroscience Letters investigated the ability of citronellol to deliver neuroprotection and, thus, treat the seizure activity that accompanies diseases such as epilepsy.
The study reported that, in rodents, administration of citronellol “significantly reduced the number” of convulsion incidences in 80 percent of the test subjects. The researchers concluded that the data they gathered “demonstrated an anticonvulsant activity of citronellol.”
Fenchol, also called 2-fenchanol and fenchyl alcohol, is a minor terpene within the cannabis genome. In nature, it is produced by aster flowers, basil, cannabis, eucalyptus leaves, nutmeg, and wild celery. Fenchol delivers an earthy, piney aroma that sometimes includes undertones of lemon and camphor and has been described as invigorating and uplifting. Fenchol is one of the primary aroma elements in basil; those who know its fragrance are necessarily familiar with this terpene.
Fenchol is, technically, a monoterpene, meaning that it is smaller and less complex than other types of terpenes. The medicinal efficacy of this phytomolecule, which is an isomer (analog) of borneol, includes analgesia (pain reduction) as well as antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.
Medicinal Research on Fenchol
A 2013 study entitled “Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of the Essential Oil and Extracts of Zanthoxylum Alatum” that was published in the The Scientific World Journal investigated the antimicrobial and antioxidant effectiveness of a range of terpenes that included alpha-pinene, fenchol, linalool, and sabinene.
The study reported that it noted “significant antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Micrococcus luteus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli” viral strains. It also reported that fenchol and linalool were standouts among the terpenes examined due to their distinct antimicrobial benefits.
Humulene, also known as α-humulene and α-caryophyllene, is a common terpene that is technically categorized as a sesquiterpene, meaning that it is much larger and more complex than a monoterpene such as fenchol. It is an isomer of the terpene beta-caryophyllene and produces a similar aroma.
This popular terpene is found in cannabis (typically sativa cultivars), Chinese ginseng, hops (such as those used to brew beer), coriander, marsh elders, oranges, pine, sage, sunflower, tobacco, and Vietnamese coriander. Humulene delivers a hoppy, earthy aroma that is sometimes punctuated by undertones of spice and wood. It is humulene that is responsible for the bitter hoppy flavor of many beers, especially India Pale Ale varieties.
The medicinal benefits of humulene include anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antibacterial, and anorectic (appetite suppressing) properties. Like THCV, which also decreases appetite, humulene may be a valuable ingredient in products formulated for those with eating disorders, obesity, or type II diabetes. In Chinese medicine, humulene is often mixed with beta-caryophyllene as an agent to battle systemic inflammation.
Medicinal Research on Humulene
A 2003 study entitled “Antitumor Activity of Balsam Fir Oil” that was published in the journal Planta Medica explored the anticancer properties of humulene (as produced by balsam fir oil). “Balsam fir oil was found to be active against all [of] the solid [cancer] tumor cell lines tested,” reported the researchers.
Interestingly, each of the active compounds tested within the balsam fir oil were found to have no anticancer efficacy whatsoever—with the distinct exception of humulene. “All [of] the compounds tested were inactive except for alpha-humulene, which thus seems responsible for the cytotoxicity [ability to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors] of the oil.”
Linalool, a major (primary) terpene in the cannabis genome, produces a floral aroma involving complex tones of spice and wood. The pleasingly warm fragrance resulting from this terpene has been described as a spicy lavender. Linalool is made by basil, bay leaf, birch bark, a range of fungi, ho leaf (Chinese rosewood), and lavender (the most commonly cited source). In total, more than 200 plant species in nature produce linalool.
The medicinal benefits of this terpene include the ability to decrease anxiety and depression, relief from pain, muscle relaxation, and reductions in seizure activity for sufferers of epilepsy. Equally promising is linalool’s ability to help those suffering from age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Medicinal Research on Linalool
A 2016 study entitled “Linalool Reverses Neuropathological and Behavioral Impairments in Old Triple Transgenic Alzheimer’s Mice” that was published in the journal Neuropharmacology investigated “the effects of oral administration of the monoterpene linalool (25 mg/kg), every 48 hours for three months, on mice with a triple transgenic model of [Alzheimer’s].”
The researchers found that mouse subjects treated with linalool “showed improved learning and spatial memory and greater risk assessment behavior.” The study identified reductions in brain inflammation that resulted from linalool treatment and concluded that “linalool reverses the histopathological hallmarks of [Alzheimer’s] disease and restores cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect.”
The terpenes involved in the Blue Zkittlez solvent-free blend from Extract Consultants synergistically mingle to deliver a detailed range of medicinal benefits. In concert, they provide an inviting aroma that is both earthy and sweet, with undertones of fresh, tart citrus.
The medicinal value of this terpene blend covers disease states such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, PTSD, fibromyalgia, social anxiety, depression, and any disease or condition involving pain. These terpenes have been found to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antifungal 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.