This is the third installment in our weekly series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes,” published every Monday. For more information, read the introduction to this series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes: A Guide For Medical Marijuana Patients.”

Pinene, one of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant, is a compound whose fragrance resembles that of a pine tree. There are two types, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, however alpha-pinene is most prevalent in cannabis, and is the most naturally occurring terpene in the world. Pinene can be found in strains such as Jack Herer, Dutch Treat, Romulan, Blue Dream, and OG Kush.

As its name suggests, it is the same molecule responsible for the satisfying aroma of pine and fir trees and some cannabis strains. In addition to providing various cannabis strains with delightful aromas and flavors, pinene contributes to the advanced anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis. It also has the ability to alter the high a strain provides, and therefore, is an important factor for patients seeking treatment. 

Strains that contain high levels of pinene often bring feelings of attentiveness and focus. Short term memory retention may also show improvement, and creative inspiration can be accelerated through pinene’s cerebral properties. The compound is also known to negate some of the adverse effects of THC, such as paranoia and anxiety. 

Research also shows that pinene works as a bronchodilator, aiding in respiratory complications such as asthma. These findings were published in the journal Inhalation Toxicology. A 2011 study suggests pinene has potential as an antiviral agent.

Another benefit of alpha-pinene is that it has been found to be toxic to certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, when tested using solid medium diffusion techniques.

Alpha-pinene is also highly bioavailable, with around 60 percent human pulmonary uptake and is quickly metabolized, meaning its benefits will be experienced rapidly.

Treatments using alpha-pinene have been found to have protective effects on the pancreas and lungs. In one study into pancreatitis, such treatments reduced the production of TNF-alpha, the pancreatic tumor necrosis factor. Because it can inhibit certain forms of cell death, alpha-pinene could potentially be formulated into a treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Many dementia drugs work by inhibiting cholinesterase and thereby enhancing cholinergic activity. Alpha-pinene could act as a supplement to help with such conditions, especially when used in small concentrations alongside other essential oils such as sage, camphor, or bornyl acetate.

This terpenoid is often seen in nature, as plants use it as a defense mechanism. It also acts as an insect repellant, so when plants secrete the oil, the odor deters insects and reduces the frequency and duration of insect attacks on plants. Consequently, it can provide similar effects when used by humans.

The potency of any given terpene is highly dependent on a variety of factors, but there are strains that tend to produce increased levels of pinene. Some of those strains include UW, Snoop’s Dream, Pineapple Express, ACDC, and Grape Ape

Patients should remember that flowers aren’t the only option. You can also consume alpha-pinene through many varieties of essential oils, which can be ingested, absorbed through the skin, or diffused and inhaled.

Considering pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes – present in the resin, stems and leaves of many plants such as conifer trees, rosemary, dill, basil, parsley, and orange peels – it is not surprising that it is also one of the most widely studied compounds by the scientific community. Whether in the perfume or the pharmaceutical industry, humans have benefited from the many properties of pinene for centuries. In fact it has also been studied as biodiesel for spark ignition engines.

Understanding individual terpene characteristics plays an important role in strain selection.  Whether inhaled or used aromatically or topically, the many benefits of alpha-pinene prove promising in improving overall health and well-being. Feel free to email us to assist with any questions you may have.