Pinene – a particular variety of health-promoting compounds called terpenes found in the cannabis plant – may have a lot to offer users beyond its trademark, and sometimes overwhelming, pine scent.
Here, we’ll dive into the science behind pinene in particular, and terpenes in general, that you might consider when picking out your next cannabis strain (different strains have different terpene profiles and, accordingly, different levels of pinene).
Finally, we’ll offer some tips on selecting cannabis products richest in pinene.
What Are Terpenes?
If you’ve ever wondered where different strains of cannabis get their telltale, unique scents, the answer is: terpenes.
Terpenes are a 30,000-strong class of unsaturated hydrocarbon compounds mainly found in plants. These compounds have a wide range of applications, including for use in conventional medicines like steroids as well as in herbal formulations like essential oils.
So far, researchers have identified 150 distinct terpenes in the cannabis plant, each affecting both the smell of the individual strain in question and the physiological effects once consumed.
The cannabis crop is particularly rich in terpenes, a characteristic which lends many of its potentially therapeutic benefits:
“Cannabis is one of the most common sources for the medicinal terpene. This plant contains many medicinal properties like anticancer, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antihyperglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiparasitic. Terpene is also used to enhance skin penetration, prevent inflammatory diseases.”
Source: Molecules Journal
The terpenes sourced from high-quality cannabis products – such as Sympleaf’s 100%-organic Full Spectrum CBD Oil — work synergistically with the other compounds in the plant (cannabinoids, flavonoids, etc.) to produce a so-called “entourage effect“:
“‘Cannabis’ is not a single compound product but is known for its complicated molecular profile, producing a plethora of phytocannabinoids alongside a vast array of terpenes. Thus, the ‘entourage effect’ is the suggested positive contribution derived from the addition of terpenes to cannabinoids.”
Here, we’ll focus on pinene, one of the most prevalent terpenes in the cannabis plant.
Pinene: A Particularly Potent Terpene
What’s in a name? Regardless of what Shakespeare said to the contrary, pinene’s name says it all; the compound emits the characteristic scent, as its title suggests, of pine – an aroma any Georgia native is sure to be familiar with.
The chemical structures of alpha-pinene and beta-pinene
Aside from cannabis and pine, pinene is also prevalent in:
- Turpentine (a biproduct of pine resin)
Potential Health Benefits of Pinene
As always, let’s take a science-based approach to exploring the benefits of pinene. Each of the benefits enumerated below is backed by clinical research – in some cases, lots of it (by now, cannabis is one of the best-studied plants in the world in terms of health applications).
Before we get into its specific health benefit, it’s important to note that pinene is readily absorbed through inhalation or digestion – meaning that, when you ingest it or smoke/vape it, the good stuff ends up in your bloodstream where it can work its magic:
Plasma concentrations of alpha-pinene following ingestion Source: Foods Journal
In addition, even small concentrations of pinene are highly bioactive, meaning you don’t have to consume very much to reap the health benefits we’ll explore below:
“Mice exposed to terpenoid odours inhaled from ambient air for 1 hour demonstrated profound effects on activity levels, suggesting a direct pharmacological effect on the brain, even at extremely low serum concentrations (examples: linalool with 73% reduction in motility at 4.22 ng·mL−1, pinene 13.77% increase at trace concentration, terpineol 45% reduction at 4.7 ng·mL−1). These levels are comparable to those of THC measured in humans receiving cannabis extracts yielding therapeutic effects in pain, or symptoms of multiple sclerosis in various randomized controlled trials (RCTs).”
Potential Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Pinene
Unchecked systemic inflammation is closely tied to (literally) nearly every chronic illness known to medical science:
“One of the most important medical discoveries of the past two decades has been that the immune system and inflammatory processes are involved in not just a few select disorders, but a wide variety of mental and physical health problems that dominate present-day morbidity and mortality… with more than 50% of all deaths being attributable to inflammation-related diseases such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and autoimmune and neurodegenerative conditions.”
Humans in the 21st century are regularly exposed to inflammatory toxins at unprecedented historic levels, including through the foods we eat, the air pollution we breathe, and the contaminants found in everyday consumer products.
The most obvious takeaway here is that, for long-term wellness, we’ve got to lower our inflammation levels. This is where pinene may offer some assistance:
“Alpha-pinene (α-pinene) exhibits anti-inflammatory activity through the suppression of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) pathway… α-Pinene significantly decreased the LPS-induced production of interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and nitric oxide (NO)… These results indicate that α-pinene has an anti-inflammatory effect and that it is a potential candidate as a new drug to treat various inflammatory diseases.”
Potential Pain-Relieving Benefits of Pinene
Chronic pain is a major public health issue. In fact, as high as 40% of the US population may suffer from chronic pain.
Chances are you know someone who struggles to manage chronic pain, or perhaps you experience this challenge yourself. Unfortunately, many chronic pain pharmaceuticals like opioids have significant long-term health risks as well as dependency issues.
Fortunately, the clinical evidence points to all-natural pinene as a potentially effective pain relief agent on par with conventional medications (minus the downsides):
“The effects of U. myricoides EO and its major constituent, α-pinene [52%], were compared with those of indomethacin or gabapentin, drugs used clinically to treat inflammatory and neuropathic processes… The relevant effects shown by U. myricoides EO are related, at least in part, to the presence of α-pinene and may be of potential interest for the management of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.”
Potential Anti-Anxiety Benefits of Pinene
Clinical evidence points to pinene’s role in vivo as a possible anxiolytic – meaning it may “kill anxiety.”
Via the “entourage effect” we referenced earlier, clinical evidence shows that pinene works in tandem with the other compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant to potentially improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Several studies bear out the consistent, sustained anti-anxiety effects of pinene in vivo:
“Mice inhaled α-pinene or water vapor (negative control) for 90 min/day for 1 day, 3 days, or 5 days, and they were then submitted to the elevated plus maze test for 10 min. We used gas chromatography with flame ionization detection to quantify concentrations of α-pinene in the brain and liver. There was significant anxiolytic-like activity, which remained constant for the 5 days’ inhalation of α-pinene.”
Which Cannabis Strains Are Richest in Pinene?
As we alluded to previously, different strains have different levels of pinene. Although it is present in nearly all cannabis strains, those highest in this pine-scented terpene include:
- Blue Dream
- Bubba Kush
- Dutch Treat
- Grape Ape
Sourcing High-Quality Pinene-Rich CBD Supplies From Sympleaf
All of Sympleaf’s full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products – such as Vegan Berry Gummies – offer a substantial dose of pinene.
For any questions on how to source your ideal dose and delivery method of pinene from Sympleaf Wellness, please don’t hesitate to contact us.