Interview conducted by Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.
There was a time when terpenes from cannabis were almost an afterthought. They may or may not have been included in end products where the emphasis was clearly delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabidiol. This scene has quickly evolved, though, to one where terpenes are held in higher regard. I’ve heard some major product manufacturers say that their consumers reported better therapeutic efficacy when terpenes were included in the product compared to their being left out. With increasing evidence of an entourage or ensemble effect at play between cannabinoids and terpenes, cannabis terpenes have reclaimed some of the spotlight.
Eybna has become synonymous with cannabis terpenes, most recently demonstrating the medicinal efficacy of cannabidiol and a proprietary terpene blend against COVID-19, as well as launching the new Enhancer Line of terpenes designed to elevate cannabis products’ aroma to create memorable aromatic sensations. I recently spoke with Nadav Eyal, co-founder and chief executive officer of Eybna Technologies, LTD.
What trends have you found to be most prevalent in the current licensed cannabis market?
The live resin market has grown substantially, with consumers searching for a true-to-flower vape experience. For convenience purposes, consumers don’t just dab live resin; they also buy live vape cartridges. According to statistics from the BDSA Green Edge platform, live resin captures a 22% share of California’s vape market. Thus, consumers are seeking out the authentic flavors and aromas of the living, fresh cannabis flowers.
How does this insight regard the terpene component of cannabis products?
At the world’s leading cannabis competition, High Times, cultivars are being ranked by the participants according to their perception of quality and interest. A strong correlation was observed between the percentage of terpene content in the plants and their rank. Higher terpene percentages correlated with the best ranking plants. Hence, the potency of the flower’s smell led to increased consumer interest.
However, the market has yet to truly understand that the changes in terpene levels from the fresh flower to the final cured flower contribute to this loss of authentic flavor. Eybna and our team of scientists, researchers, and developers have done extensive analysis by sampling cannabis cultivars before harvest, at the point of harvest, and two weeks after harvest and curing.
What kind of technology does Eybna use to analyze terpenes?
Volatile compounds of the living flowers are captured using in vivo floral headspace technology for a direct collection and measurement. Headspace technology is a tool traditionally used in the fragrance industry to capture the makeup of plants at their aromatic peak. This is the first time the technology has been used for researching the cannabis plant. It reveals the great differences between the cured and live plant profiles.
What are the insights and observations from this study?
From our extensive study, we are able to pinpoint the exact evolution of terpenes over time. The most prominent change was observed in the two weeks’ period post-harvest, where the major monoterpenes drastically decreased and the sesquiterpenes’ portion increased. This conclusion sheds light on the prominent differences of the terpene profiles from the cultivars’ genetics to the cultivars consumed by the end consumer. From the observation of users choosing ‘freshly-harvested’ cannabis products, we recognize the importance of bringing these unique terpene profiles to more cannabis products. By using the most advanced terpene analytical methods, we measure and take a “snapshot” of the plant’s aromatic profile at the cannabis plant’s peak point — capturing the terpene composition at the stage where the plant’s terpene output is maximal. The combination of these methods together with our high-resolution production capabilities enabled us to introduce a new category of botanical-terpene profiles called Live Line™.
What has the Eybna team been working on most recently?
As we understand, terpenes are volatile compounds that play a vital role in nature. It has been shown that terpenes interact with essential systems in the human body such as the endocannabinoid, the GABA [gamma-aminobutyric acid], and the olfactory systems, which relay sensory data directly to the central part of our brain, resulting in important functions in behavioral and emotional responses. Based on these insights, we came to understand that there are deeper needs within the market for products that elevate the most sought-after cannabis flavors and aromas.
How do you utilize sensory data?
Eybna’s constant research of cannabis plants has led our genetic expert team to explore some of the most exotic cultivation facilities on the planet, tracing the rarest and purest cannabis landraces and hybrid genetics. We have also worked with the original breeders behind iconic varieties, including the legendary “Sam the Skunkman” (who brought the Skunk phenotypes to the Netherlands from the U.S. in the 1980s). Backed by our proprietary database of cannabis phytochemicals, we have an in-depth understanding of how to formulate authentic and peak olfactory flavor experiences to products.
The base notes of Kush, Skunk, and Diesel terpene aromas are considered as stinky and unappealing smells. However, when it comes to cannabis aromas, these kinds of deep flavors are considered tasty and desirable. A 2018 study involved the assessment of 61 participants on the scents of 11 cannabis cultivars using 48 descriptive words.  The descriptors, which usually have nominally negative connotations (skunk, pungent, diesel), were associated with positive product evaluations, while others (earthy, chemical, tar) were linked with negative evaluations. This is in contrast to wine and coffee terminology in which skunk, for example, denotes only as a product defect. Those disagreeable smelling cannabis cultivars such as diesel or skunk are popular with certain consumers, are well known, and resemble the popularity of other stinky products such as cheese, fermented soy, etc.
Thousands of cannabis products claim Kush, Skunk, or Diesel characteristics. In reality, due to a lack of agreed-upon standards, these products can vary widely from each plant’s original and intended sensory experience. The Enhancer Line was developed to provide a reliable and true-to-plant experience for bona fide cannabis enthusiasts and connoisseurs longing for the bold, unmistakable flavors and aromas of classic cannabis flowers.
Can you use the Enhancer Line to infuse formulations?
The Enhancer Line comes in three varieties of classic, beloved cannabis clades/groups: Kush, Skunk, and Diesel. The Enhancer Line formulations are now available for brands to incorporate in a range of products, from vapes to tinctures. The formulations should be carefully integrated into the product and are recommended to be combined with Eybna’s terpene formulation for full-spectrum quality. The recommended infusion rate in the final product depends on the desired intensity.
Reference Gilbert AN, DiVerdi JA. Consumer perceptions of strain differences in Cannabis aroma. PLoS One. 2018;13(2):e0192247. [Impact Factor: 3.240; Times Cited: 15 (Semantic Scholar)]