A Cannabis Industry Milestone
Introduction: Terpenes and Mood
Terpenes are a large class of natural molecules found in plants. They are the key components of the aroma of leaves, fruits, and flowers. The terpene d-limonene, for example, has a sharp citrus scent and is a significant contributor to the taste and smell of lemon juice and lemon peel. Terpenes are also abundant in the flowering heads of cannabis plants. There they are responsible for much of the characteristic smell of cannabis, as well as the distinctive aroma of each individual strain. They may also contribute to the psychoactive effect of a given strain—a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”
Abstrax Technologies Product Innovation
Abstrax Technologies is known for its terpene blends made from food-grade, all-natural FEMAGRAS ingredients. The blends are based on terpene profiles found in popular strains of cannabis—however they contain none of the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD which occur in the plant biomass. Abstrax recently developed five AI Terp Effects blends designed to address specific mood states. The blends are called Relaxed, Inspired, Energized, Focused, and Peaceful. These blends can be used to enhance the sensory experience of a variety of consumer products. For example, they can add fragrance and flavor to cannabinoid-free products such as foods and functional beverages. Or they can be added to products that already contain cannabinoids in order to enhance and extend psychoactive effects on mood.
Using Sensory Testing to Profile New Terpene Blends
Abstrax Technologies has teamed up with Dr. Avery Gilbert and sensory consulting firm Synesthetics, Inc. to produce the first sensory evaluation of cannabis-related terpene blends.
In Dr. Gilbert’s study consumer panelists used a sniff-test protocol to deliver quantitative mood impression data for each terpene blend. The results confirm that the scents are well aligned with the moods targeted by the innovation and product development team at Abstrax Technologies.
The aim of this study was to obtain direct sensory evaluations of new terpene blends under development by Abstrax Technologies.
More specifically, the objective was to obtain quantitative measures of the mood impressions produced by each blend. To that end, Synesthetics, Inc. had consumer panelists rate the blends using Mood Descriptor Profiling, a technique proven in previous applications to provide results that are both sensitive and reliable.
Thirty panelists were tested (16 men, 14 women). They ranged in age from 21 to 45 with a mean of 30.5 ± 7.2 years.
Mean point scores were calculated across moods for each sample. Past experience with the 5-point technique of Mood Descriptor Profifiling has shown that mean scores of 0.90 or greater (i.e., twice the score expected on the basis of random descriptor assignment) are statistically robust. That is, descriptors ≥ 0.90 will replicate on retesting of the same panelists, and in further testing with new panels. Other high-scoring descriptors (in the 0.75 to 0.90 range) will also remain high-scoring although with some variability in mean values and rank order.
In the charts that follow, positive mood states are shown in yellow and negative mood states in green.
This blend had very strong scores on energized, focused, uplifted.
This blend produced a very strong impression of energized and calm, secondary impression of uplifted.
This blend gave a very strong impression of uplifted. It produced secondary impressions of energized and calm.
This blend yielded a very strong impression of calm, a secondary impression of energized, and a lesser impression of focused.
This blend produced very strong impressions of energized and focused, with a secondary impression of calm.
SUMMARY TABLE: MEAN MOOD DESCRIPTOR PROFILING SCORES (N = 30)
Transforming the Conversation about Terpenes and Mood
This study is the first to directly assess the mood impressions produced by cannabis-relevant terpene blends. The results demonstrate these Abstrax blends are effective at producing positive mood impressions such as energized, calm, uplifted, and focused. The results also set a new standard for assessing terpene effects on mood in the context of cannabis. While much has been written about the entourage effect, empirical data linking terpenes to mood and mental state are in short supply. This study demonstrates that instead of speculating based on personal experience, it is possible to objectively quantify the association between moods and terpenes.
About Dr. Avery Gilbert
Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Avery has established himself as a leading authority on the measurement of cannabis aroma. He has published three scientific studies on cannabis aroma using consumer sensory panelists and has a fourth study submitted for publication. Before exploring the scent of cannabis, Avery worked in the fragrance and flavor field at Givaudan Fragrances and as an independent scientific consultant for companies developing scented consumer products in a range of categories—including perfume, air fresheners, candles, and personal care products. He is the author of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life, and is frequently cited in the media.
References & Links
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Gilbert, A.N. & DiVerdi, J.A. 2020. Human
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Gilbert, A.N. & DiVerdi, J.A. 2019. Use of rating
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Gilbert, A.N. & DiVerdi, J.A. 2018. Consumer
perceptions of strain differences in
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