Wayne Schwind, Introduction: Do terpenes impact edible effects?
Real quick, before we get into this video, if you're unfamiliar with terpenes, go back and check out our other video called "What are terpenes and cannabinoids?". That'll give you a good understanding of the compounds in cannabis, which you'll need to know before we dive into this video. So this video is focused on terpenes, the secondary compounds, and how they influence the effects you might experience when consuming edibles. This is a clip from a Science of Cannabis episode we did with Emma Chasen, in one of the regular podcast episodes that we upload, focused on the science of cannabis. If you don't know Emma, she's a cannabis educator and consultant. She graduated from Brown University in Ethnobotany, really focused on the science of cannabis, really explains it well, simplifies it. And this is a clip from that episode.
*Begin Audio Interview*
Wayne Schwind: I want to switch over to some questions we got from a listener and they're mostly focused around edibles. And I think these will be interesting. We can talk a little bit about the THC stuff we just talked about, and then maybe how terpenes or even CBD comes into these.
The first question she asked was - Can edibles really produce an uplifting or sedative effect once THC has been converted to the 11-hydroxy-THC? And she said her experience she says, “I think they all act like hybrids to her, unless a person takes too much, then she either feels paranoid or sleepy.” So, she kind of says that she thinks all edibles have a very similar experience, more like a hybrid. But is there anything around that or studies that we know of, edibles can be more uplifting effects versus relaxing or sedating?
Emma Chasen: Sure. So this is, one - it's important to note that since we just had this conversation, that 11-hydroxy-THC, you will have that experience with that analyte whether you are smoking, inhaling, vaporizing, or ingesting, so it's not the 11-hydroxy that will deliver a kind of consistent experience for all edibles, because it's not exclusive to edibles, which we now know. What we're then talking about are really the bioavailability of terpenes, because terpenes are the compounds that are thought to be responsible for the more nuanced effects that are produced by different cannabis varieties.
And so with edibles and oral ingestion, we can say, “Well, okay, how - how many terpenes are actually making it into the blood plasma to cause a certain effect?” And there have been studies done on this where, through the more like scientific rigor, individual terpenes were tested for blood plasma levels after consumption, just like THC or CBD would to measure bioavailability. And what they found was that, there were not many terpenes that made it through into the plasma. There were some like larger, heavier terpenes that did have more resilience and did make it through. However, a lot of them did not. This is not to say, though, that the terpenes are not having any action on, on receptors or factors before they enter into the blood plasma, especially in the digestive tract. So during digestion, and during liver metabolism, there are a lot of enzymes at play, there are a lot of physiological factors that go into that metabolic process of digestion. And terpenes may be having some type of effect on those factors, before they're even able to make it into the bloodstream. It's also important to know that terpenes do show up in sweat. So they're going somewhere, they're going somewhere, and then they're coming out that way.
And so, I don't think that, at this point, we have enough conclusive scientific evidence to write off the difference in experience, the difference in edible experience. Also, it gets, again, tricky when you look to measure this kind of experience in humans, we have to do, at this point, anecdotal self-reporting, which is subjective, because we cannot do human clinical trials. And so when we do this kind of subjective reporting, you will see many people who feel like they are having an uplifting experience or a relaxing experience, it's really hard to measure if that's a placebo or not at this point.
I can say from my personal experience, I’ve definitely had edibles where I have felt way more uplifted versus way more relaxed and sedated. I don't think that it was a placebo effect for me, because I also consistently would have those experiences with this particular company that did do strain-specific edibles. However, that is just my personal experience. And that does not hold up in the realm of science, right? We can't extrapolate that and say, "Well, now all strains specific edibles, yes, they will absolutely give different experiences."
It's definitely worth researching further, because there is a lot to be elucidated around the way in which these compounds interact with each other before they do even get into the bloodstream, particularly with oral ingestion. And so at this point, like I said, we don't have enough scientific evidence to say, "yes, these edibles, these strain-specific edibles, do actually cause a different set of effects, based on the compounds, because the terpenes do XY and Z." But we also don't have enough conclusive scientific evidence to say "No, the edibles universally give the same experience, and they don't actually have any nuance of effects." And that's just where we're at right now.
Wayne: Yeah, and I like how you said it - nuanced effects, not like black and white effects, like a sleeping pill, or, you know, cocaine as a bad example, to have that kind of extreme uplifting versus sedating. It's not like that. It's very nuanced, and has a lot to do with your current state. Where you're at, if you're tired already, are you already feeling kind of up and positive? It's probably an interesting, yeah, a nice way to look at it.
Emma: Exactly. And it is hard when we talk about cannabis in this kind of dichotomy, because I, I don't think that relaxing and uplifting really do those experiences justice in the sense of like, being able to describe them, of course, you will have your extremes where it's like, "Whoa, I like really need to like move or go on a hike or clean the house." And then you'll also have the opposite extreme where it's like, "I can, I cannot lift myself up off the couch." But there's a lot in the middle there that is just more of a shift in perception. And the way that I describe it in myself as almost like a zooming-out or zooming-in where I get like really focused on something, or I have more of like a zoom out perspective, where I can like connect more of the dots in my brain for whatever it is I'm thinking about. And then of course you have like, chatty or silly or quiet or self aware. I mean, there's so many ways that we can describe these experiences. They're so unique to the person like you mentioned, they're so dependent on the situational awareness, on your mental, emotional, physical health states while you consume, where you consume, who you're with, that it's a, it's really hard to measure and then statistically analyze and extrapolate to the entire population.
Wayne: Right, yeah, yeah. I like that too, the zoomed in versus zoom out. I have noticed that with different products, where I can get hyper focused on something very specific and do that for a few hours versus have this experience of just big picture, abstract thinking but have a problem or trouble trying to like be very focused with the attention. So I have noticed that, I've never heard anyone describe it that way though. I like that. What about sublingual versus ingesting the edible around terpenes in the effects? Is there more availability sublingually, potentially?
Emma: I, I can't say this for certain, as I have not come across a scientific study that looks at the bioavailability of terpenes sublingually versus oral ingestion, specifically in the context of cannabis. But I would theorize or hypothesize that yes, terpenes would be able to penetrate into the bloodstream more effectively, especially because terpenes, again, are quite small compounds and they really easily penetrate through our mucous membranes, as well as the blood brain barrier.
And so I, I would think that again, the bioavailability of those compounds is more similar to an inhalation, especially vaporizing flower at low temperature inhalation because when we talk about combustion, or dabbing, or anything like that, I mean that like super high heat will definitely destroy a lot of terpenes. And so by consuming terpenes subliminally, you're not applying any heat to them and therefore, they will be able to, or should be able to, there should be a higher concentration of them when they are crossing the, the mucous membrane there. So I would think that - again, it's only a hypothesis as I haven't seen any scientific research to corroborate this - but I would think that terpenes would be more bioavailable through the sublingual method as compared to oral ingestion.
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