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Is It Safe to Take Terpenes?

September 15, 2022 5 min read

Is It Safe to Take Terpenes?

Is It Safe to Take Terpenes?

Humans have used terpenes as a food additive for hundreds of years. Herein is whether terpenes pose any danger, understanding the safety, packaging, and use of terpenes.

Many plants that have been used medicinally or for flavoring and scent contain significant concentrations of terpenes. The FDA has given its stamp of approval to the use of most terpenes as safe food additives. However, there are crucial safety criteria to follow when including terpenes into a produced product, just as there would be with any other component. This is especially true in the cannabis and hemp industries, where terpene applications are seeing fast expansion and innovation. There are around 50,000 distinct terpenes known, with roughly 250 documented in the cannabis plant. There are various terpenes available. Therefore, knowing exactly which terpenes you've used in your formulation is critical to ensure that your product is legal and safe.

Do Terpenes Pose Any Danger?

There are a lot of advantages to using terpenes. According to Lino et al. (2022), fruits and vegetables high in terpenes may help you feel more energized and positive while supporting your overall health. Although terpenes have many beneficial applications, they are not without risk, particularly when used in high concentrations. Terpenes produce hypertension and dizziness by relaxing the walls of blood vessels. Irritation, discomfort, inflammation, and other symptoms might result from prolonged or repeated exposure to concentrated forms. You should never put terpenes or essential oils on your skin or ingest them. Terpenes are very potent and should be watered down before usage. Terpenes are safe for human consumption when diluted to 5% or less.

Understanding the Safety of Terpenes

Terpenes used in cannabis products come either from the cannabis plant (in the form of essential oil) or from another plant (such as pine or lavender), then synthesized into the desired chemical structure. Understanding the distinction is crucial for ensuring compliance. Formulations of terpenes obtained from cannabis are subject to local cannabis rules, while those derived from other plants are not. The purity, consistency, and scalability are all affected by where the terpenes come from.

According to Araniti et al. (2017), terpenes obtained from plants may be blended uniformly to eliminate any potential for variance. This provides repeatability in the product, and the availability of botanical terpenes may make it simpler to scale the formulations. Regardless of the source, terpenes used in cannabis applications must be of food-grade quality to ensure they are safe for human consumption. They may come into touch with other foods without causing any adverse effects. When looking for a terpene provider, look for one that can:

  • Provide paperwork establishing that the items are safe for human consumption.
  • Include any relevant documentation, including ingredient lists, safety data sheets, technical documents, and the certificate of analysis, authenticity, and provenance.
  • Verify the terpenes are 100% natural and solvent-free.

Packaging and Use

Since terpenes are very effective and easily dissipated aromatic compounds, only a trace quantity is required. The most effective concentration of terpenes and the kind of packaging required to ensure their stability and shelf life will depend on how they will be applied.

Inhalable

Terpenes are more effective when inhaled. Cannabis users have been safely inhaling cannabis flowers for decades, and the plant's natural ratio of terpenes, which varies from 1% to 5%, provides a dependable guidepost for infusion. The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission recommends that the terpene content of any inhalable cannabis product not exceed 10%. Regulatory agencies like the European Association for the Coordination of Consumer Representation in Standardization have established criteria for terpene concentrations in e-cigarettes, which are similar but not identical to tobacco product standards.

However, when infusing terpenes into cannabis inhalable, e-cigarette standards should not serve as the only guidepost. According to Bos, Soeteman-Hernández & Talhout (2021), a daily dose of cannabis is around nine puffs, compared to an average of 500 for e-cigarette smokers. The vaping hardware is also important for the legality and security of inhaled terpenes. Vaping is most effective when heated to between 356- and 392 degrees Fahrenheit.

The loss of terpenes to heat and heat byproducts may be minimized by using hardware with a variable temperature setting. Stainless steel hardware is also highly recommended to reduce the potential for heavy-metal leaching further. Terpene infusion at roughly 5% concentration adds taste and functionality to extracts. Also, it helps reduce the viscosity of cannabis extract, which is necessary for certain vape gear and maintaining a consistent product. Inhalable products containing terpenes should be of natural origin, with a full list of components and a detailed composition description included in the accompanying quality documentation.

Consumption By Mouth

Taking terpenes orally is a common practice. You may do it the old-fashioned way by chewing or swelling, or you can accomplish it by keeping food beneath your tongue. Most terpenes have been used safely for thousands of years as an oral supplement. However, just because something has been done for a long time doesn't make it the only option. Never take concentrated terpenes or essential oils by mouth without first diluting them, as per warnings from the Food and Drug Administration. Get advice from a doctor before using anything you're not sure is safe. Linalool, one kind of terpene family that is safe for oral consumption, protects the liver against toxicity. THC and other cannabinoids' first-pass metabolism in the liver are similarly affected. This leads to a more intense and prolonged sensation.

Why is Terpene Concentrates so Harmful?

According to Zarybnicky et al. (2018), terpenes may cause damage to people, particularly young children and those with heightened sensitivities. Some examples include linalool, pinene, limonene, and caryophyllene. Perfumes and colognes get their fragrance from these fragrant terpenes. Many studies have shown that they are beneficial to health at low doses. However, when in their purest forms, terpenes may cause seasonal allergic reactions like rhinitis or asthma episodes, as well as contact dermatitis. Commercial cleaning products use terpenes derived from pine wood. Pinene, terpinolene, and camphene are found in abundance in these goods. This very concentrated kind irritates the mucous membranes and causes various unpleasant symptoms, including dizziness, shortness of breath, and headaches.

Conclusion

Terpenes have been part of our diets for centuries. They can be found in the herbal remedies and products we consume. Terpenes have always been exclusively found in plants from which they are extracted. The availability of ultra-pure, concentrated terpenes has increased their efficacy and made them more dangerous if used improperly. Wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles while handling concentrated terpenes, and open windows and doors to circulate fresh air into the area. Terpene concentrates are the only time this is necessary. Terpenes may be used without worry when appropriately diluted.

References

Araniti, F., Sánchez‐Moreiras, A. M., Graña, E., Reigosa, M. J., & Abenavoli, M. R. (2017). Terpenoid trans‐caryophyllene inhibits weed germination and induces plant water status alteration and oxidative damage in adult Arabidopsis. Plant Biology, 19(1), 79-89.

Bos, P. M., Soeteman-Hernández, L. G., & Talhout, R. (2021). Risk assessment of components in tobacco smoke and e-cigarette aerosols: a pragmatic choice of dose metrics. Inhalation Toxicology, 33(3), 81-95.

Lino, D. L., Guimarães, J. T., Ramos, G. L. P., Sobral, L. A., Souto, F., Neto, R. P., ... & Cruz, A. G. (2022). Positive effects of thermosonication in Jamun fruit dairy dessert processing. Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, 106040.

Zárybnický, T., Boušová, I., Ambrož, M., & Skálová, L. (2018). Hepatotoxicity of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Archives of toxicology, 92(1), 1-13.