What Is Terpinolene? [Cannabis Terpene Guide]

What is terpinolene, and what does it do in cannabis? Read on for our complete guide.

The effects of cannabis rely on more than just THC and CBD. Chemicals known as terpenes play a significant role too.

These aromatic compounds are steadily gaining recognition as a crucial element of cannabis therapy. They contribute to a phenomenon called the entourage effect, as well as having unique properties of their own.

In this article, we investigate one of the lesser-known cannabis terpenes, terpinolene. Here’s all you need to know.

What Is Terpinolene?

Terpenes are the chemicals that give cannabis its distinctive flavor and aroma. They also contribute to its effects and can make the difference between a strain being energizing or relaxing. Furthermore, terpenes appear to have a variety of benefits to our health.

Terpinolene is just one of the many terpenes that cannabis produces. In fact, the plant contains far lower concentrations of terpinolene than other terpenes, such as myrcene and beta-caryophyllene. Even so, it has some potentially beneficial properties that are worth exploring.

Terpinolene is a monoterpene, one of the simplest of terpene molecules, and has the chemical structure C₁₀H₁₆. It is a liquid, with a clear to pale amber color. It also has a sweet, pine-like aroma and a sweet, citrus flavor.

Some common uses of terpinolene include:

  • Flavoring food and beverages
  • Personal care products
  • Air fresheners
  • Manufacturing plastics and resins

In recent years, several scientific studies have also investigated the potential medicinal uses of this terpene. So, what are the benefits of terpinolene?

Benefits of Terpinolene

Terpinolene has not been researched as rigorously as some other cannabis terpenes. Although there are a few existing studies, we still have much to learn.


It is also essential to understand that most of the current research involves experiments on animals or cell lines in a laboratory. Therefore, little is known about how the compound influences human physiology.

That said, here are some of the potential benefits of terpinolene that scientists have discovered so far:

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Like many terpenes, terpinolene seems to have some anti-inflammatory properties. A 2016 study for the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research investigated. It assessed the effects of terpinolene in combination with the popular anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac.

The research team administered low doses of both substances to rats with hind paw inflammation and pain. They found that the combination effectively reduced both swelling and discomfort in the rats. This finding could provide significant advantages in clinical practice.

By increasing the diclofenac’s effectiveness at low doses, terpinolene could help mitigate some common side effects of the drug. For example, it could reduce the risk of stomach problems that people taking long-term anti-inflammatory medication often experience.

The authors of the study conclude: “These data suggest that the association of clinical drugs with natural products might be a pharmacological alternative in clinical use, avoiding expected adverse reactions.”

Antioxidant Effects

Another common benefit of cannabis terpenes is their potent antioxidant effects, and terpinolene is no exception.

A 2015 study in Cytotechnology tested the effects of terpinolene on blood from five healthy human volunteers. They found that low doses had antioxidant properties, without being harmful to lymphocytes (white blood cells).

Another 2005 study in Phytomedicine found that terpinolene prevents the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is a process that can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, terpinolene may have some benefits for heart health.

Sedative Effects

A 2013 study for the Journal of Natural Medicines found that inhaled terpinolene had sedative effects on mice. It is unclear whether it has the same impact on humans or contributes to the sedative nature of certain cannabis strains.

Terpinolene Side Effects

Terpinolene has toxic effects on some insect species, such as the common pest, the maize weevil. It is also harmful to rabbits in high doses, and research found that it could irritate laboratory animals’ skin.

However, the terpene appears to be safe for human consumption. Volunteers did not experience any skin irritation or allergic reactions with direct exposure to terpinolene. Furthermore, the small quantities of terpinolene in cannabis are unlikely to cause any issues.

High Terpinolene Cannabis Strains

Terpinolene is not as abundant as many other cannabis terpenes. However, there are a few strains that contain decent levels of the compound. Some of the highest terpinolene cannabis strains include:

Golden Pineapple

This strain is a balanced hybrid with a 50/50 sativa to indica breakdown. Its most notable feature is its delightful pineapple aroma and flavor. However, Golden Pineapple also packs a generous 22% THC, and so could be too potent for inexperienced users.

Consumers of this strain report that it can help to relieve stress, while also combating fatigue and low appetite. Its terpinolene content clocks in at 0.95%.

Dutch Treat

Dutch Treat is an indica-dominant (80%) hybrid with a massive 24% average THC content. It smells fragrant and fruity, with just a hint of pine.

This strain’s medical uses include relieving anxiety and depression, aiding sleep, and reducing chronic pain. It contains around 0.71% terpinolene.


This strain is another balanced hybrid with a THC content around 22%. It also has a citrusy aroma with notes of earth and pine.

XJ-13 has a fast-hitting high that users say can help with stress, depression, and fatigue. Its terpinolene content is approximately 0.66%.

Jack Herer

One of the best-known strains of all time, Jack Herer is slightly sativa-dominant (55%) and has around 21% THC. This classic strain has a flavor profile combining elements of citrus and pine with skunky undertones.

Jack Herer fans use the strain to relieve a range of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Its terpinolene content is around 0.42%

Ghost Train Haze

Ghost Train Haze is heavily sativa-dominant (80%) and contains up to 28% THC! It is definitely a strain to use with caution, but users love its sweet and citrusy aroma.

Those who can handle its intense high find that Ghost Train Haze helps with issues like muscle spasms and cramps. It contains approximately 0.28% terpinolene.

Other Sources of Terpinolene (Not Cannabis)

Aside from cannabis, it is possible to find terpinolene in various other herbs, spices, and vegetables. Some good sources of terpinolene include:

  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Star anise
  • Juniper
  • Citrus fruit
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Celery

Terpinolene is also a common terpene in various species of trees. It is a component of pine, fir, and tea tree essential oils.

Final Thoughts on Terpinolene

Terpinolene is not as well-known as other cannabis terpenes, but it has some potential benefits, nonetheless. In addition to contributing to the flavor and aroma of some great-tasting strains, it could be anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and sedative.

Terpenes are undoubtedly an essential part of cannabis therapy, and we are learning more about them all the time. Although research into cannabinoids like THC and CBD has overshadowed them for years, scientists are finally becoming more aware of terpenes’ uses. Therefore, we are sure we will see more studies on terpinolene and its benefits soon.

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