Of the 200 aromatic terpenes possible in an individual strain (or cultivar) of cannabis, pinene is the second most common behind myrcene, and the most frequently appearing in the plant world.
Like many other terpenes, pinene is available in two varieties, alpha and beta (the former being the most common in cannabis). This naturally occurring molecule conveys the highly recognizable aroma of a pine forest; its exact floral composition depends on the other terpenes present. Alpha-pinene smells light and fresh like pine, while beta-pinene smells a little spicier.
Also found in basil, orange peel, parsley, pine, and rosemary, pinene is an effective insect repellent (one of the primary evolutionary roles it and all terpenes play for the cannabis plant) and is a constituent component of turpentine. It is commonly used, in both naturally harvested form, and as synthesized industrially, in the fragrance industry.
The Details of Pinene
Like other major terpenes, the medical efficacy of pinene is multifaceted, offering anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and even dermatological benefits. Pinene has even been found to be a valuable ingredient in topicals for the treatment of acne.
This important terpene has also been shown to improve energy levels and mental focus, making it popular among knowledge workers and hard-driving creative professionals. In addition, pinene works well as a bronchodilator, making this terpene valuable for those suffering asthma and related respiratory conditions.
Pinene is an excellent example of the effects of the entourage effect, a theory that terpenes and cannabinoids interact in special ways to amplify, buffer, and otherwise modify the efficacy of one another — including their overall aggregate effect.
For those who may have consumed too much of the infamous psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), pinene acts as a buffer, helping prevent panic attacks and other negative responses to becoming “too high” or “spun out.” This special terpene can accomplish this feat only because it is one of the few molecules permitted to cross the extremely selective blood/brain barrier, where it can modify the binding affinity and interaction of cannabinoids like THC with the CB1 receptors found in the brain and central nervous system.
As an anti-inflammatory, pinene offers gastrointestinal protective properties, making it a potential antiulcerative and a recommended terpene for those suffering from conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Multiple studies reveal pinene to be an effective and powerful anti-inflammatory agent and bronchodilator, giving it special efficacy for those with arthritis, gastrointestinal conditions, and even cancer.
A January 2015 study entitled “Gastroprotective Effect of Alpha-pinene and its Correlation with Antiulcerogenic Activity of Essential Oils” and published in the journal Pharmacognosy Magazine concluded that pinene is an excellent treatment therapy for sufferers of various types of ulcers and other digestive conditions. “Our data showed that α-pinene exhibited significant antiulcerogenic activity and a great correlation between concentration of α-pinene and gastroprotective effect,” reported the study’s researchers.
A May 2015 study published in the journal Scientific Reports and entitled “Hippocampal Memory Enhancing Activity of Pine Needle Extract Against Amnesia” concluded that “Pinene could be a potent neuropharmacological drug against amnesia” and other diseases related to memory, retention, and recall.