Get ready, it’s time to “spruce” up your cannabis experience with the terpene Pinene! This terpene is responsible for the unmistakable and invigorating smell of fresh forest air and for some, the scent may bring back nostalgic memories of Christmas morning! Sure, it can make your car smell great, but are you aware of the many health benefits pinene can offer? Pinene has some pretty amazing medicinal uses as proven by anecdotal reports, but even more noteworthy are the various scientific studies on its ability to inhibit cancer cell growth, tame inflammation, and increase mental acuity, and alertness. Consuming cannabis strains rich with this abundant terpene has also been shown to reduce or even eliminate the potential adverse side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), like short term memory loss! That’s not all, thanks to this mighty terpene, asthma sufferers and healthcare providers can finally “breathe easy” due to pinene’s therapeutic effects as a robust bronchodilator and powerful “full-spectrum” antibiotic.
What are Terpenes Again?
Terpenes are volatile, fragrant, essential oil components produced by many plants (and some insects) in nature. Plants produce terpenes for protection against harmful microbes and insects and for luring beneficial organisms, like bees, for pollination! There are over 200+ different terpenes identified in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are synthesized in the sticky, resinous glands of the female flower called trichomes, alongside other cannabinoids like THC and CBD. A plant’s terpene profile is responsible for the various, unique tastes and smells of cannabis, not the cannabinoids! The current, quasi-legal status of cannabis in the United States has helped improve the quality and quantity of cannabis research being conducted, and terpenes are getting the recognition they deserve. New evidence strongly suggests that terpenes, when paired with cannabinoids, may be responsible for a plant’s indica, hybrid and/or sativa-like effects, not its lineage or THC content. Many factors can influence a plant’s terpene profile development, for instance, a plant’s age, time of year/day, weather, fertilizers, and soil type can all affect a plant’s terpene makeup and ultimately, their effects!
Pinene is the most common terpene encountered in nature, and it’s abundantly found in, you guessed it, pine trees! Other natural sources include hops, sage, rosemary, eucalyptus leaves, orange peels and of course cannabis! Due to its abundance, pinene is also the most researched and well-studied terpenes to date! There are two structural versions of this molecule, an alpha(⍺) and beta(β) pinene. Both versions are chemically identical except for the orientation of the molecules, which are mirror images of one another. Because of this, it is believed that their effects on the human body are relatively similar, and both are often synthesized together in nature. However, ⍺-pinene is the more prevalent version in our environment, including cannabis and often outshines β-pinene in our literature and studies. The scent of ⍺-pinene is reminiscent of fresh pine, while β-pinene delivers a spicier, herbal aroma similar to hops. Pinene is also likely responsible for the “skunk” aroma in many cannabis varieties.
Pinene: Past and Present
For millennia, people have used ⍺-pinene for its abounding therapeutic effects, and it remains prevalent in our modern lives today! There is evidence that ancient peoples from all over would collect the pinene-rich resin from the bark of trees to make their own tonics and ointments. They would mix the resin with other compounds to treat various ailments ranging from chest congestion and asthma to microbial infections and eczema. In ancient China, they would use pine-needle oil; which that we now know to be rich in ⍺-pinene, to treat certain cancers!
We continue to use pinenes in our everyday modern lives. It is commonly added into products like perfumes, cosmetics, and cleaning products, but its therapeutic effects have been known and used in aromatherapy for years! Even though pinene is one of the more prevalent terpenes found in cannabis, more research is still needed on how terpene and cannabinoid synergy affects each strain’s chemical profile and our brains. This synergy is referred to as the “Entourage Effect”, and it is not limited to just cannabis. Current studies on pinene’s medicinal efficacy in cannabis strains are highly encouraging, backing-up the historical claims and uses of this wondrous plant and its many chemical constituents. Who knows, adding pinene or using cannabis strains high in this mighty terpene may help supplement your work-out or fitness routine!
Stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover the medicinal properties of Pinene more in-depth and the conclusion of this article!
Michelle is an Education Assistant for Baked Bros™. She has a B.S. in Biology from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga. Her background includes work in customer service, healthcare, research, and secondary education. She has been living in Arizona since 2014 and enjoys educating patients about the many benefits of Medical Cannabis and staying up to date on the latest cannabis research.
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