TERPENES vs. FLAVORINGS: Is there really any difference?

It’s important to know what you are vaping. The new world of CBD and THC vaping, has for better and mostly worse, taken its cues from the e-cig industry. They have marketed to underage consumers, filled their e-juice with synthetic flavorings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, not to mention the 100+ chemicals in the nicotine oil itself. 

Its high time the Cannabis industry started to do their due diligence before they release any products. Some of this in my opinion, is just common sense. Let’s examine some key things that we should be looking at when creating or buying a vape pen cartridge. 

1. Terpenes ARE NOT Flavorings

Let’s not confuse the use of terpenes with the use of flavorings. The natural and/or synthetic flavorings used in e-cig and some vape pen company’s cartridges are toxic to vaporize or smoke. These ingredients are meant for foods and ingestible products, not vape pens. They add no therapeutic or medicinal value. 

WA and OR have both banned flavorings which is very smart,  but have taken it too far though with banning isolate terpenes. Natural plant derived terpenes are the same molecule as in “cannabis terpenes”, and provide the medical community a consistent product in both quality and effect. Cannabis derived terpenes, as amazing as they are for recreational use, vary from plant to plant, crop to crop and provide no consistency, which is what most patients need. 

2. Terpenes are Naturally Occurring in All Plants, Including Cannabis and Hemp

Terpenes occur throughout the plant kingdom and are the building blocks of essential oils. Natural terpenes isolated from other plants such as pine (pinene), mangos (myrcene), lavender (linalool), and others, are exactly the same as the terpenes found in cannabis and hemp. We all have taken a walk through a forest, inhaling deep breathes and noticed the scent of fresh pine in the air. That scent of pine is made up of terpenes. Its why you feel so much better when you are surrounded by these aromas. They can make us feel alert, relaxed, energetic, and many other beneficial effects. 

There have been numerous studies over the past half century on natural terpene isolates and their proven health benefits, even without presence of cannabinoids such as THC & CBD. As with any medicines natural or pharmaceutical, proper dosage is paramount to safety. The idea that “more is better” is dangerous.  Even herbs like golden seal can be life threatening if taken improperly.  There are several terpenes that help cannabinoids cross the blood brain barrier, which in the proper amount can be highly beneficial in directing the healing benefits of THC and CBD; just as it is meant to do in the flower of the plant. 

3. Product Test Results

First and foremost, you should always ask to see the testing results of the product. In regulated markets it’s a requirement to have test such as:

Potency: this tells you that the dosage that the product says it contains is accurate. This is especially important in the CBD market that isn’t regulated at tightly as cannabis (THC) market. 

Pesticide and Heavy Metals Screening: This should show a breakdown of all the toxic chemicals tested and whether it passed or failed. This is also especially important for cartridges besides what’s in them. 

Terpene Profile: This is important to know for the benefits it imparts to the oil. It is also something you would want to see % of product. Safe amounts as in nature are 4-6% of volume. In addition to the volume of terpenes, make sure the terpenes in your product are natural, not synthetic. 

Cartridge Tested for Lead and Other Contaminants: You will find more companies starting to do this with all the bad publicity about the toxic chemicals in the cartridges themselves. 

Once you have seen the test results of what is in the vape cartridge you will have a great idea of safety levels.

4. The Battery Voltage is Important

It is important to note that the vaping occurs under 400°F. Smoke forms above 400°F and is no longer vapor. At temperatures above 400°F lots of the things like PG, VG, MCT and even terpenes become toxic. It’s important to note that vaping at 3.3 volts is safest. It preserves the benefits of the terpenes and oil and lends to a better and smoother vaping experience

Just to clarify, it is already known that PG, VG, and vitamin E are not safe to vaporize.  Personally, I wouldn’t vape any of these substances. 

In Conclusion

One last note, humans have been smoking cannabis since the beginning of time, which means they have been smoking terpenes, and no one has ever had to be hospitalized. The hospitalization and death of individuals has come when foreign substances have been added that should never be vaporized or smoked. 

I leave it here. Do your due diligence. Everything I am stating here is easily researched and answers readily available for those who seek them. 

Be smart. Ask questions. JGI

-Delaney M Toups

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