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Cannabis, and specifically its many chemical components, have been increasing in notoriety recently for their profound therapeutic benefits. In case you forgot, Pinene Part 1 was focused on the general overview and natural history of this memorable terpene. The second half of this article will go more in depth on the numerous medicinal properties pinene can offer! Modern-day science is finally catching up and verifying a millennia of stories and anecdotes from various cultures around the world about this “tree-mendous” terpene!
Anti-microbial Properties of PinenePlants make and use pinene to control the growth of unwanted microbes, such as bacteria and fungi on their own. Scientists are taking advice from mother nature and applying pinene’s antimicrobial effects to the treatment of human (and animal) microbial infections. This is becoming especially important with the increased frequency of treatment-resistant bacteria like MRSA and Staph. infections on the rise. According to the CDC “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die. Fighting this threat is a public health priority that requires a collaborative global approach across sectors”. One 2012 study evaluated the antimicrobial activities of ⍺-pinene and β-pinene against bacterial and fungal cells. They concluded that adding either form of pinene to current antibiotic therapies will increase the effectivity of said therapy, which potentiates using less of the antibiotic and reducing the chance of resistance.
Pinene & Anti-inflammation
A 2014 study found in the Journal of Natural Products highlighted a group of researchers who wanted to expand on previous studies confirming pinene’s anti-inflammatory properties on human cartilage cells. They wanted to determine if ⍺-pinene’s anti-inflammatory effects could be beneficial in the treatment and/or prevention of osteoarthritis. The data collected resulted in: “anti-inflammatory and anticatabolic effects of α-pinene in human chondrocytes, (+)-α-pinene (1) being the most promising for further studies to determine its potential value as an antiosteoarthritic drug”.
Pinene & Memory
“Marijuana-induced” memory loss is a common problem reported amongst many cannabis users. Short-term memory impairment and decreased mental acuity are a few of the negative effects of consuming THC, especially in high doses or concentrations. Currently, growers are breeding strains of cannabis with absurdly high THC levels and the production and the widespread use of cannabis concentrates with THC content testing upwards of 90% are on the rise! A 2016 study found that chronic cannabis users displayed a shrinkage in the volume of their hippocampus. Thankfully cannabis makes a compound (pinene!) to combat the negative memory effects of THC! Pinene’s mental-boosting powers have been known for many years. A 2005 study concluded that pinene is an effective acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This increases the amount of acetylcholine found at the neuronal synapse, improving memory, attention, mood and behavior. Strains with high concentrations of pinene may not be suitable for those suffering from PTSD, as it could trigger a relapse of negative memories in some cases.
Pinene & Breathing (Bronchodilation)
Have you ever taken a stroll through a forest and noticed that the air seems cleaner, more crisp, and easier to breathe? You can thank the copious amount of pinene that is found within the needles and resin of most pine and conifer trees! Unsurprisingly, pinene has been used in the treatment of asthma for centuries. It works as a bronchodilator by reducing inflammation and congestion in the upper respiratory tract of affected individuals, improving airflow to the lungs! Vaporizing cannabis strains high in pinene (in moderation and with low temperatures) can theoretically help some asthma sufferers from acute symptoms. Strain specific edibles can also potentially aid in preventing asthma attacks.
Anti-Cancer Properties of Pinene
It's no secret that cannabis has the potential to prevent, slow-down, and even reverse certain cancers. There is now substantial evidence showing that isolated ⍺-pinene exhibits anti-cancer properties as well. A 2017 Chinese study shows ⍺-pinene to be effective in inducing apoptosis (cell-death) of grafted prostate tumor cells in laboratory mice, and the fact that: “tumor progression was inhibited more in mice treated with α-pinene than in control mice”. Recent research also suggests that pinene and other terpenes can increase THC’s anti-cancer effects via the “Entourage Effect”. Terpenes like pinene can also possibly be incorporated into current treatment modalities of cancers.
Pinene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, yet more research is needed on how terpene and cannabinoid synergy affects each strain’s chemical profile and additionally how it affects the human brain. Pinene’s capacity as a bronchodilator is not only beneficial to asthmatics, but could also be used by athletes as a supplement to naturally optimize oxygen intake and performance. It may even be a potential adjunct treatment for certain cancers as well! Terpenes, and pinene specifically, play an extremely significant role in cannabis, and more research is necessary to further explore their potential therapeutic capacities. Thankfully, attitudes towards cannabis legalization are constantly evolving, further driving public interest and quality research. This will ensure that we, the people, can enrich our lives and make more informed decisions about our health as a whole.
Have you noticed any of the therapeutic effects mentioned above with your favorite strain of cannabis? Is there anything that should be added? Please share your experiences and opinions in the comment box below!
Michelle is an Account Manager 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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