One of the most commonly occurring terpenes in cannabis. There are two forms of pinene: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, with alpha-pinene being the more prevalent in cannabis. Alpha-pinene is also the most abundant terpenoid found in nature. This aromatic terpene is a constituent of dill, basil, rosemary, parsley, and coniferous trees including pine. Pinene is currently under investigation for its potential to treat numerous conditions including inflammation, cancer, and respiratory conditions. Researchers are also studying whether alpha-pinene can treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions.
Smoking weed with pinene is like strolling through a forest of pine trees.
There’s a little beta-pinene in my weed – and a lot of alpha-pinene.
More About Pinene
As its name would imply, pinene possesses the fragrance of a pine tree. Pinene is an element of the resin produced by turpentine trees and is found in certain oils, such as eucalyptus and orange peel. One unusual potential use of pinene is as a biofuel in spark-ignition engines, as a pinene dimer (two identical pinene molecules linked together) may have volumetric heating values that rank as high as rocket fuel. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint Bio-Energy Institute have produced pinene synthetically through the use of a bacterium. The purpose of the synthetic production was to research pinene’s potential as a biofuel, but the terpene may be equally helpful as an insect repellent and culinary ingredient.
Pinene in Everyday Life
Besides savoring the refreshing scent of pine trees on a winter day, you may have encountered pinene at your kitchen table. Dishes made with pine nuts contain pinene, as does the oil from a lime peel. So, a salad sprinkled with pine nuts or a slice of key lime pie for dessert means that you’ve tasted this terpene. In contrast, pinene is known to be highly unattractive to insects, so it’s an ingredient in many repellents.
Therapeutic Properties of Pinene
The predominant type of pinene in cannabis, alpha-pinene, is also the one that may offer the most therapeutic benefits. These potential benefits are anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antimicrobial, in addition to respiratory and neuroprotective.
Many plant essential oils that contain pinene have been shown to reduce inflammation. Researchers published a study in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine which found that alpha-pinene exhibits a number of anti-inflammatory properties in animal cells, and concluded that the terpene is “a potential candidate as a new drug to treat various inflammatory diseases.” Interestingly, by harnessing pinene’s anti-inflammatory effects, this terpene could also be an effective additive to sunscreen, as it prevents skin damage caused by ultraviolet light.
Many studies in animals (and other models) have concluded that both alpha- and beta-pinene have significant anti-tumor properties. In fact, when consumed together, both forms of pinene appear to have synergistic effects in reducing tumors. One study also showed that alpha-pinene could be effective in treating prostate cancer. The researchers determined that alpha-pinene significantly inhibited human prostate cancer cell growth after conducting a battery of tests on mice that served as xenograft models, meaning that they were implanted with human cancer cells.
Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene have also been studied for their antimicrobial effects. One study published in the Swiss scientific journal, Molecules, demonstrated that pinene was an especially powerful tool in combating Candida Albicans, a yeast fungus found in the human gut flora that can become harmful if there is an overgrowth.
Cannabis is commonly used by patients to improve their mood, and animal studies suggest that some of this effect may be due to the presence of beta-pinene. Beta-pinene appears to produce these effects on mood in a similar way that other antidepressant medications work (the brain’s monoamine system).
A study published in the Swiss journal Molecules tested the ability of alpha- and beta-pinene to fight the infectious bronchitis virus. The study found that both types of pinene inhibited viral activity in cells, therefore making the terpene a potential aid in resolving bronchitis. The study also established pinene as a possible bronchodilator that could offer relief to those with asthma.
In a quest to understand Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have investigated alpha-pinene’s role in fighting this incurable neurological disorder. Using animal models, scientists concluded that alpha-pinene may be beneficial not only against Alzheimer’s disease but also against general dementia, amnesia, cognitive dysfunction, and overall memory loss.
The Role of Pinene in Cannabis
Among the types of cannabis containing the highest levels of pinene are Jack Herer, Dutch Treat, Romulan, Blue Dream, Island Sweet Skunk, Strawberry Cough, and OG Kush. Pinene is easy to identify in cannabis, more so than many other terpenes, because the pine scent is so strong and distinctive. Pinene’s effects on the cannabis experience will vary according to which variety is smoked, with some infusing energy and others facilitating relaxation.
Easily recognizable for its sweet pine aroma, pinene may play a role in fighting inflammation and boosting memory, along with offering an emerging option for the biofuel industry.