Understanding Pinene: A 2020 Guide to Cannabis Terpenes

Pinene Benefits

Do you enjoy the dominant refreshing smell of cannabis? It mostly comes from pinene (or α-pinene), an aromatic compound commonly found in the oils of many coniferous trees, such as the pine. Alpha-Pinene has a woody and earthy aroma with pine and cedarwood tones. The best thing about this aromatic compound, also part of the group of molecules known as terpenes, is the health benefits it offers.

What is Alpha-Pinene?

Alpha-pinene is part of a broad family of chemical compounds naturally found in plants called terpenes. Aside from pine trees, other natural sources of pinene are rosemary, eucalyptus, sage, and frankincense.

Terpenes give different cannabis strains their distinctive odors and flavors.

They can come as small terpenes known as monoterpenes and large terpenes known as diterpenes, triterpenes and so on.

Besides plants, other types of organisms such as insects, marine algae, and sea slugs also produce terpenes. [1]

Terpenes in cannabis are potent compounds that play an important role in the healing effects of this plant.

Research shows that cannabis is the most effective when terpenes and cannabinoids work togetheralso known as synergy among compounds or the “entourage effect.”

The reason why different cannabis strains produce different effects is because of their terpene profiles.

Some terpenes promote focus and activity, while other relaxation and stress-relief.

While the terpene myrcene is popular for its sedating effect, pinene is known to increase alertness.  

Alpha-pinene is one of the most commonly found terpenes in the world.

Pinene is a monoterpene and comes in two varieties, alpha and beta. While alpha-pinene is more common in cannabis and gives pine needles and rosemary their distinctive scent, beta pinene can be found in basil and hops and is responsible for their signature smells.

The Many Uses of Alpha-Pinene

Pinene is the main component in many essential oils, and it is used in the production of perfumes and deodorants. It is used in aromatherapy and cosmetics, as it can be found in the oils of rosemary, orange peel, tea tree, and eucalyptus.

Another widespread use is household cleaning solvents such as turpentine.

Pinene Benefits

Pinene is a monoterpene, so it is suitable for inhalation for which is widely used for treatment of infections of the respiratory tract.

Alpha-pinene is bioavailable with a reported range between 54-76%  following inhalation with quick metabolism and redistribution.

This means that the effects of the compound will be experienced quickly after inhalation. [2]

After absorption, according to studies, only 4-6% of the amount assumed to be absorbed was found in the blood. [2]

Pinene works in different ways in the body, but it mainly displays:

  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Bronchodilatory effect
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Gastroprotective properties
  • Anti-proliferative activity
  • Antioxidant properties

For centuries, healers have used pinene as a natural remedy for congestion or parasitic infection. Let’s take a look at the evidence-backed healing effects of pinene, which show how a small amount of the substance goes a long way.

Reduces Inflammation

This terpene is mostly known for its calming effects. According to research, alpha-pinene influenced inflammation by decreasing activation of immune cells that add to inflammation in body tissues in mice.

This means that it may help people with arthritis related to inflammation within joint cartilage.

 There are indications that alpha-pinene is a potent anti-inflammatory agent against acute pancreatitis, which is an inflammatory disease with an unknown cause.

The anti-inflammatory activities of a-pinene are amplified if this compound works in synergy with other terpenes. For example, if used with b-myrcene, these two terpenes can are great for pain relief.  


The powerful antibacterial activity of alpha-pinene goes as far as helping in the battle against the dangerous antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureusMRSAand bacterium Campylobacter jejuni.

If left untreated, MRSA can slowly go deeper into the body. From infected and swollen skin the person can get the bacteria quickly transferred into the bloodstream.

Over the years, MRSA has become resistant to most common antibiotics. As antibiotic resistance is on the rise, it is important for researchers to find other alternative compounds that are capable of killing these harmful bacteria.

Pinene seems to be a great natural addition to integrative treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Helps Respiratory Conditions

Pinine is an effective bronchodilator. This means that pinene helps to open airways and improve airflow in the respiratory system which can be of therapeutic value for people with respiratory ailments such as asthma.

Increases Memory Retention

In the research paper Taming THC: Potential Cannabis synergy and Phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid Entourage Effects, Dr. Ethan Russo explains that the most compelling activity of alpha-pinene is as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor aiding memory. [3]

This means that alpha-pinene works as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, reducing the activity of acetylcholinesterase to boost memory.

Additionally, it is well-known that drugs used to treat dementia—a group of symptoms associated with a decline and memory and other thinking skills—are cholinesterase inhibitors. [4]

The potential of alpha-pinene in increasing memory retention could also counteract short-term memory deficit caused by THC intoxication.

The role of a-pinene in protecting short-term memory can also be due to the “entourage effect” or the synergy it has with other terpenes such as limonene, linalool, beta-pinene, and terpineol. .

Protects the Gut

An animal study showed that pure alpha-pinene reduced gastric ulcers in mice. This suggests that the gastroprotective effect of alpha-pinene may also work in humans if consumed at low levels.

Repels Insects

Terpenoids are frequently found in nature to also serve as a plant’s defense mechanism against insects.

Pinene, in this case, can be an efficient insect repellant, so when the plant secretes pinene, the odor keeps the insects away and reduces the frequency of insect attacks on plants.

High Pinene Hemp Strains

Many factors such as weather, climate, and soil can influence the development of terpenes in the cannabis plant.

This strain not only offers high resin content but strong terpene levels. With a-pinene present in the highest level of .06%, this strain successfully combines high levels of cannabinoids and other terpenes such as b-myrcene with 0.34%. The benefits? This strain is great for pain relief and inflammation.

High CBD

A top seller in the trimmed flower market and great for full spectrum oil extraction, the Special Sauce hemp flower possesses the highest average CBD content. The benefits? With a terpene profile that includes .05% a-pinene and .2% b-myrcene, this strain offers mid-sized buds and is perfect for reducing pain and inflammation, as well as anxiety.

Molecular Structure of Alpha-Pinene

Alpha-pinene is an organic compound composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms, classified as hydrocarbons. The molecular formula of this component is C10H16.

Although alpha and beta-pinene both have the same chemical formula, they have different atom connectivity. Alpha-pinene contains two ring systems, a six and a four-membered ring.

Pinene has two isomers both commonly found in nature. The 1S, 5S variant is more common in European pines, while the 1R, 5R isomer is more common in North America’s pines. [1]

Pinene is a clear colorless liquid. It is denser than water and also insoluble in water,  with a characteristic turpentine odor. The vapor produced from pinene is heavier than air and is used as a solvent.

The amount of pinene produced in the plant depends on temperature and available sunlight. The monoterpene is emitted in larger amounts in nature, affecting temperature and light intensity.

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