Wherever you turn in the cannabis world, the word “terpene” is sure to be seen. The world’s obsession with cannabis science and exploration has led terpenes to become more popular than ever. It has even been suggested that their use will be one of the next big booms in cosmetic marketing. So let’s talk terpene production, and why it matters.
Why Terpenes Matter
Terpenes play an instrumental role in how cannabis, mainly THC, will affect the person using it. Basically, terpenes are greatly responsible for the effect that each strain has. They modulate the effect of THC and CBD, effectively enhancing them.
Terpenes have been attributed to the ‘entourage effect, which is described as an orchestra of cannabinoids and terpenes working in harmony. The varying percentages of a blend of terpenes can mean one strain soothing neuropathic pain, another that deals with insomnia, and another that works wonders for chronic fatigue – even if they all contain similar terpenes. Unfortunately, traditional medicine is not designed to work with poly-compound interactions in one medication, and cannabis extracts contain hundreds of them.
Higher levels of terpenes mean higher quality products, increased medicinal potential and a more enjoyable experience. Higher terpene content will make your cannabis extracts more exciting, flavourful and effective. Their interest started to gain attention after the work of Dr Ethan Russo for GW Pharmaceuticals in 2011. While the cannabis community has firmly integrated this knowledge into the culture, it might not even be at its peak yet in the broader pharmaceutical, medical cannabis preparations.
One of the most fascinating things about cannabis terpene production is that the plant will synthesise terpenes early on in its life that is then re-synthesised into more complex terpenes later on. With this knowledge in mind, it proves that it pays off having plants operating at full health throughout the plant’s whole life.
Creating the Right Environment to Induce Essential Oils
Whilst the plant has the genetic code to produce terpenes, they are impossible to make if the required ingredients aren’t available in the soil or other growing medium. Sure, growing products will contain the essential N-P-K ratios, but this will only take you so far.
Healthy soil should be thriving with beneficial bacteria, fungi and microbes. These biological components are what actually make the soil fertile and carry out the processes that turn raw waste material into bioavailable plant food. This is why so many growers now talk about “feeding the soil” rather than feeding the plants. Our blog on building your own organic soil will help you understand what it takes to create a healthy base for homemade soil.
So how do you keep your soil thriving with the necessary beneficial additions to take your aromatic qualities in your cannabis to the next level?
One straightforward way to make soil supplements is Lactobacillus Serum. It isn’t easy; it is really cheap, goes a long way, and is totally effective. You can make a year’s supply for under £/$10.
Probiotics are not Just for Plants
You will probably recognise the name if you take probiotic supplements for your gut health in your own diet. The good and healthy bacteria in your digestive tract helps keep you healthy. A little known fact about lactobacillus is that including this in your diet will increase the number of cannabinoid receptors in your gut.
For those who take canna capsules or are regular medible consumers, you should consider making sure you are eating a good amount of this beneficial bacteria yourself. It could just make the cannabinoids you are ingesting more effective. Wouldn’t it be nice if your crop went further or was just more effective? You can get them from fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles and sourdough, among other nutritious delicacies, including over 90% of the bacteria found in honey. Let’s look at a way to make it really cheap compared to what the health food shops are pumping out.
Lactobacillus Acid Serum (LABS) contains lactobacilli, an anaerobic microbe (anaerobe). There are many different lactobacillus strains, and they can compost and break down a wide variety of materials. This makes it brilliant for helping replenish soils with needed components to sustain healthy plant life.
I will explain the method that I was shown a few years ago.
Make a rice wash. This is really simple. Get some rice and some water. Wash the rice in the water. Strain the rice out but keep the water – this is the bit you actually want. Microbes feed on carbohydrates, so we need to make a trap. Cook leftover rice for dinner later.
Collect microbes in a jar trap. Pour your milky rice wash into a glass jar. Cover with a clean cloth or kitchen towel. Secure, so no holes are around the side. String or elastic band helps. This keeps out debris but allows the microbes in the air to enter the vessel and start eating the starch. Leave this in a dry place that has access to fresh air. You will get three layers form after a couple of days. A scum on the top (you don’t want this). Liquid microbes in the middle (you want this). Sediment at the bottom (again, this is unwanted).
Collect the liquid microbes. Remove cloth. Using a syringe, syphon out the middle layer of liquid from the jar trap. This will smell slightly sour, which is OK. It means it has worked. Try to leave the sediment undisturbed on the bottom. It’s alright to leave some liquid in the jar because you will have plenty to work with.
Add the liquid microbes to the milk and give it a nice stir. The lactose in the milk acts as a carbohydrate for the lactobacillus to eat. Put a lid on the bucket and leave it in a stable temperature room for 5-7 days. This will allow enough time for the serum to form. During this process, the whey separates from the lactose and leaves you with two layers. A curd on the top and a liquid serum underneath.
Remove the lid from the bucket and carefully remove the curd layer from the top. This will most likely want to break up, and don’t worry too much if it does. Once removed, strain the remaining serum through a cloth or old t-shirt (make sure it is clean, though). This will stink like cheese as it is actually the starting process to cheese making. Once your liquid is separated and lump-free, you are good to go. Hopefully, you are on team home compost and will put the curd layer on there. It still has incredible amounts of beneficial bacteria in there. Feed a bit to your dog if you have one. They love it – like go CRAZY for it, and it is great for their gut health! Bless the pets of pot.
Use it as it is or bottle it up for long term use. As it is in this stage, you can keep it in the fridge in a glass bottle or jar for up to a year before you are going to start seeing noticeable degradation. If you mix it with molasses 1:1, it will last for a couple of years at room temperature. Personally, this is something I would make up at least once a year rather than leaving it two – it’s always good to keep these microbes fresh and keep the quality up.
How To Use LABS for Terpene Production
This is potent stuff! You really only need about 1-3ml per 10l of water to adequately inoculate the soil with enough lactobacillus for increasing your soil biology.
You can also use it as a foliar spray with as little as 0.1ml per litre being effective. Any more than this, and your room will smell a bit like a farmyard or cheese factory for the next 24-48 hours.
It is incredible seeing how lively your plants look after introducing this ancient but abundant microbe. It’s hard to describe, but they just have more vitality. Within a week to ten days, you will probably notice signs that it is working because the stems become slightly more sticky, and if you give your fingers a sniff, you should notice that the aromatic potency has improved.
You don’t need to add this into every feed. Every two weeks is actually plenty to keep your soil inoculated and out populating any harmful bacteria.