Plants and the compounds within them are magical. Our mission at Resonate Blends is to use plant compounds to help you find what you’re looking for with precision calibrated cannabis. That means we have to understand the science behind the magic so that we can provide consistent, precise, and efficacious experiences.
Terpenes in particular are one of the most useful categories of compounds produced by plants. Phytocannabinoids and terpenes are sibling categories, each containing a range of phytochemicals produced by plants. It is useful to be aware that phytocannabinoids like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and terpenes like myrcene and linalool all possess their own unique properties while working together beautifully and effectively. We like to think of the cannabinoids as the engine and of the terpenes as the steering wheel. It is their combinations that can help you find what you are looking for.
At KOAN, our first consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand under Resonate Blends, we seek out and embrace the potential uses of many well studied terpenes from various kinds of plants. Taking it one layer deeper, we recognize and rely upon the interactions between terpene compounds when two or more terpenes are present together, aka “ensemble effects.” This is how we actually discover and develop how to effectively target experiences; not by looking at the known effects of one terpene in isolation, but by looking at and testing how several terpenes working together in highly controlled quantities facilitate specific mind/body states.
We research the physical and emotional effects of the terpenes and cannabinoids and select and test theoretical combinations of those components that have the highest likelihood of supporting the targeted experience. For example, to generate a creative state, we target an energetic sense of flow, a sense of connection, and uninhibited cerebral activity that does not undermine fine motor skills. These kinds of specific effect targets drive us to test specific ratios of cannabinoids and a very precise blend of different terpenes. We run beta testing programs with 30+ individuals. We control for things like age, consumption preference, potential tolerance, etc. Our initial beta testing programs were just subjective feedback via a 39-question form, but now we are moving into more objective biometric feedback (along with a smaller subjective feedback section).
These specific mind/body states are then mapped out on our Resonate System so that the consumer can quickly identify what experience they would like to facilitate and easily understand the best product to choose to do so.
Why Not Use Full-Spectrum Raw Material?
While full-spectrum cannabis products like flower are wonderful in their own right, to better control for precise consumer outcomes, KOAN products require stringent control of the quantities of each terpene that we utilize. The results of our stringent quantity and quality control parameters are highly targeted, clean, and consistent experiences. Without this level of individual terpene quantity control, plant-derived products including cannabis products are simply less controllable and in effect, less consistent from batch to batch. To be clear, this does not mean that full-spectrum products are undesirable; it just means that they are different.
To lend credence to this idea, we discovered in our internal testing programs that a small increase in the quantity of just one terpene in a formula (around a 1% change in total mass of the formula) had a significant change in reported outcomes. This was a small scale (pre-beta testing) subjective feedback determination by members of our team and a few other testers. It was small but impactful to feel the difference between just the two scenarios. This was a turning point for us, a kernel of information that then led us down the path of a controlled formulation approach for KOAN products with a tremendous level of detail and precision. We put focus on every element of the product and we like to see the resultant experience as a kind of art.
After becoming aware of precisely how sensitive one’s experience can be to small changes in formulation on the development bench, we then created a unique patent pending mass production process to ensure the qualities we found at the smaller scale were also present on a larger, mass production scale.
We are an information-forward company and all of the terpenes and cannabinoids that we utilize to facilitate experiences are listed on our website (koan.life) and in every KOAN Cordial package.
The Challenge of Using Terpenes in Ingestible Products
One aspect to keep in mind is that just having the terpenes present, especially in an ingestible product, is not enough.
A very important characteristic that we focus on is bioavailability. Simply having terpenes in an ingestible product and trusting that it will have an effect on felt outcomes is missing an important part of the full picture. Let’s take the example of a traditional, lipid-based edible product like a brownie using infused, full-spectrum cannabutter. Let’s also say that the cannabis raw material for a cannabis product that has a delta-9-THC targeted dose of 10 mg also has a high quantity of native linalool present at 3% of cannabutter mass relative to THC content. This would mean that 0.3 milligram of linalool is present in the final edible product. This is actually a substantial quantity of linalool in an edible product, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that this is the case.
It would be conservative to say that less than 10% of that linalool in a “traditional” edible would actually make it into the bloodstream after digestive processes take place. The bloodstream is where you want a compound to be present for it to have an effect. Even if a full 10% of that 0.3 milligram of linalool makes it into the bloodstream, that is only 0.03 mg of “active” linalool. That is an insufficient quantity of linalool and would have very little to no effect on felt outcomes, even while keeping in mind that linalool potentially has ensemble effects with other terpenes and cannabinoids.
Recognizing this bioavailability challenge, KOAN creates a situation where more of the terpene material is able to enter the bloodstream before it is destroyed by the digestive system. The process of emulsifying the terpenes allows those terpenes to enter the bloodstream more quickly and in higher quantities than traditional, lipid-based edibles.
This is a significant advantage in two major ways. The first advantage is that, because the terpenes are actually active in the bloodstream in effective quantities more akin to an inhalable product, this allows us to better direct ingested product experiences. For example, we can create a Play Cordial experience that leans on more stimulative terpenes that facilitate fun, energetic, social experiences. Or we can produce a Calm Cordial utilizing relaxing and calming terpenes that help people manage the stressors of everyday life. These highly targeted effects are in no small part due to the actual bioavailability of the emulsified terpenes.
The second major advantage of our emulsification process is that we can more tightly control for individual terpene quantities. We are able to use less quantity of terpenes, but because they are more bioavailable, they still perceptibly influence and direct consumer outcomes. Some of our emulsification processes are proprietary and they ensure the maximum value of every active terpene component is supportive of an extraordinary experience.
At the end of the day, our primary objective with the KOAN Cordial product line is to master the art of experience with precisely calibrated formulations of terpenes and phytocannabinoids. We look at the Resonate System as a map of highly specific experiences that can be used to support a wellness lifestyle. We would like to expand consumers’ perceptions of cannabis products beyond the scope of just getting high with THC by providing products that support healthy, intentional, and mindful choices about how consumers live their lives on a day to day, activity to activity basis.
Remember that all of these emulsified ingredients, carefully crafted formulations, attention to bioavailability, and so many other details only amplify the philosophy that the active ingredient is you. It is your choice regarding which experience you would like to facilitate or enhance, from connecting to the universe with a higher THC Wonder experience, to a creative and energetic boost with Create, or to a state of flow with the subtle but beautiful Balance.
Skyler Quisenberry is Head of Product Development for Resonate Blends and is responsible for research and development of the Koan Cordial product line. Before co-founding Resonate Blends, Mr. Quisenberry was responsible for logistical support and development at Pickled Monkey, an early cannabis company where he managed the supply chain, educated the sales team, dispensary staff, and consumers. Mr. Quisenberry was also focused on the science of the entourage effect and for analyzing the effects of a given formulation based on the terpene and cannabinoid content.