What is Pinene? What Does This Cannabis Terpene Do?
Pinene is one of many different terpenes found within various plants, insects and essential oils.
Terpenes are aromatic oils and compounds that give fruits, plants, and some varieties of insects their unique aroma and smell.
In nature, these compounds have several purposes, including attracting or repelling predators or pollinators, aiding in reproduction, and providing protection against the elements.
Within cannabis, pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes out of more than 150 different varieties, providing cannabis strains with their unique aroma, flavour and supposed effects. Terpenes are a critical component of consuming cannabis, but not many know what they are, where they come from, or their reported effects.
This article is part of a series on cannabis terpenes and is designed to highlight one of cannabis’ freshest terpenes, pinene.
What is Pinene?
Pinene is a naturally occurring monoterpene, a class of terpenes that serves as building blocks for other terpenes. In cannabis, crystal-like structures known as glandular trichomes are responsible for terpene production.
Pinene occurs naturally in two varieties, alpha-pinene (α pinene) and beta-pinene (β pinene). Both types have a fresh, piney scent and are, respectively, two of the most prominent terpenes found in cannabis.
In addition to occurring naturally in cannabis, alpha-pinene can be naturally found in rosemary, parsley and dill, while beta-pinene can be found in coniferous trees, coriander and cumin. Alpha-pinene is more prevalent in cannabis and is also the most abundant terpenoid found in nature.
Pinene’s fresh, piney scent has made it a popular aroma and flavour additive in many everyday products. Many household cleaners and air fresheners will contain this terpene to impart a forest-fresh scent when used.
In addition to providing different cannabis strains with their unique aroma and flavour profile, studies suggest that terpenes can exhibit some pharmacological effects.
When combined with other terpenes and THC and CBD, a reaction known as the entourage effect may promote relaxation, stress relief, and other psychoactive effects. The entourage effect has some scientific basis backing for it, but research regarding its effects is inconclusive.
What are the Reported Effects of Pinene?
Pinene’s fresh, forestry scent has a variety of anecdotally beneficial effects. Its refreshing aroma has been said to have anti-inflammatory effects while also providing respiratory and neuroprotective benefits. However, these claims have only been studied through animal trials and the extent to which these effects can benefit humans remains unclear.
In Japan, a type of therapy known as “Shirin-Yoku,” which roughly translates to “forest bathing,” involves taking patients through a walk in the forest to soak up and bathe in the atmosphere and aroma of the trees. The practice is said to have a preventive and restorative effect on the patient’s psyche and physiology.
Another study supports pinene’s therapeutic effects. Conducted in 2017, researchers found that the inhalation of terpene-based essential oils, particularly those found in coniferous forests, produces a positive psychological impact. These results align with another study, which found that this terpene acts as a bronchodilator, a compound that can help open up the lung’s airways.
Outside of therapeutic settings, pinene has also been shown to exhibit antibacterial properties. The inclusion of this terpene in household cleaners could be for more than just its scent alone.
Additionally, some studies suggest that pinene may effectively combat bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause serious infections, including pneumonia, and Escherichia coli, which can cause stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. However, the extent of this terpene’s antibacterial properties remains unknown.
Finally, alpha-pinene has also been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. In a 2015 trial conducted on mice, researchers discovered that this terpene effectively suppressed inflammatory enzymes.
While the researchers suggest that α-pinene has the potential to treat various inflammatory diseases, its anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to its many other supposed benefits, require more research before its therapeutic use is cleared for humans.
Involved in More Than Just Cannabis
Pinene occurs naturally in coniferous trees, cannabis and herbs and is just one of many terpenes influencing the flavour and aroma of our favourite cannabis strains. Producing a fresh, foresty scent, you can find this terpene as a significant component in many indica and sativa strains available today.
However, as with the supposed differences and effects that indica and sativa strains can deliver, more research is needed before scientists can say anything certain about the effects of pinene as a terpene.
Please note that this content on pinene and terpenes is intended to act as entertainment and a general educative aid and is not intended to act as or substitute healthcare advice from a professional healthcare service or qualified healthcare provider. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your physician or a qualified healthcare provider.