Pinene is a terpene – a type of chemical compound that many different plants produce. The primary role of terpenes is to provide protection against pests and diseases. However, they also have a range of potential benefits for human health.
One plant which is especially rich in terpenes is cannabis. These compounds contribute to the various aromas, flavors, and effects of different strains. Industry experts also believe that they work synergistically with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD in what is known as the ‘entourage effect.’
The entourage effect could help to boost the activity of these cannabinoids while reducing the risk of adverse effects. For this reason, many people consider terpenes a vital component of cannabis therapy.
In this article, we put the spotlight on pinene to uncover its possible benefits. We also discuss where you can find this terpene, both in high pinene cannabis strains and elsewhere.
What Is Pinene?
Pinene is a clear, colorless liquid with a piney, turpentine-like aroma and a dry, woody, or resinous taste.
Due to its name, aroma, and flavor, it probably comes as no surprise that one of the primary sources of pinene is pine trees and other conifers. However, it is also a common constituent of many cannabis strains.
Pinene is a monoterpene, one of the simplest types of terpene. It has the molecular formula C₁₀H₁₆ and comes in the form of alpha-pinene and beta-pinene.
These terpenes exist in the form of positive and negative enantiomers. This means that there are two forms of each molecule, which are mirror images of one another.
These molecules exist in varying concentrations in different types of plants. For example, the negative enantiomer is more common in European pines. Its positive counterpart, on the other hand, is more common in North American species.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of this terpene and why you might consider a high pinene marijuana strain.
Like most terpenes, pinene has a range of potential benefits. Here is some of the current research on pinene and its effects on human health.
Like many other cannabis compounds, pinene may have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2014 study for the Journal of Natural Products confirmed these effects. It looked at the anti-inflammatory effects of pinene on human chondrocytes (cells that produce cartilage).
The authors found that pinene inhibited pro-inflammatory compounds such as interleukin-1β. Furthermore, the positive enantiomer of alpha-pinene was most effective. They suggest that this terpene could, therefore, be useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis.
Pinene also appears to have potent antibacterial and antifungal effects.
A 2012 study for Molecules investigated the effects of this terpene on various microbial cultures. The authors found that pinene was highly toxic to Candida albicans, the fungus responsible for causing yeast infections.
It also had bactericidal effects on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Furthermore, this terpene appeared to enhance the impact of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin on these potentially dangerous bacteria.
Interestingly, once again, it was the positive enantiomer of the terpene that was most effective.
Antioxidant and Neuroprotective Effects
Pinene also appears to have potent antioxidant effects. It could, therefore, play a neuroprotective role in conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2016 study for Zeitschrift für Naturforschung found that the terpene had a two-fold antioxidant effect. Firstly, it inhibited the production of harmful molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Secondly, it enhanced the expression of several natural antioxidant chemicals. These included catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1).
The authors of the study suggest that pinene could benefit the oxidant/antioxidant balance of the nervous system. This, in turn, could help to slow or prevent the development of neurological diseases.
Other Pinene Benefits
In his 2011 paper, Taming THC, neurologist and cannabis expert Dr. Ethan Russo discusses several further benefits of pinene. These include its potential as a broad-spectrum antibiotic and a bronchodilator when administered in low doses.
However, perhaps one of the most exciting pinene benefits that he covers is its use as a natural memory aid.
Pinene appears to inhibit the action of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. The function of this enzyme is to break down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine has many different actions within the body. It increases alertness and attention and plays a role in learning and memory.
By slowing the breakdown of acetylcholine, pinene could help counteract some of the adverse side effects of THC; specifically, short-term memory impairment.
The Best High Pinene Cannabis Strains
If you wish to maximize the benefits of this terpene, you will need to find a high pinene cannabis strain.
The good news is that once you do, the compound has a high bioavailability rate of around 60% when inhaled.
This makes it easy to take advantage of this terpene’s many positive effects. Most users also enjoy high pinene strains’ unique, crisp, and refreshing flavors.
Some of the best high pinene marijuana strains on the market include:
If you are lucky enough to live in a legal state, these strains are widely available in licensed dispensaries. However, if you live somewhere where cannabis is not yet legal, you will need to find an alternative source of pinene.
Other Sources of Pinene (Not Cannabis)
In addition to cannabis, you can find pinene in a range of other plants and their essential oils. These include lime peel oil, eucalyptus oil, and tea tree oil.
You can also find pinene in many common kitchen herbs and spices, such as the following:
- Bitter fennel
However, one particularly enjoyable way to benefit from pinene is the practice of ‘forest bathing.’ This activity is popular in Japan, where it is known as shinrin-yoku. It is also one of the core elements of a German complementary medicine system known as ‘Kneipp therapy.’
Since the air in forests is especially rich in terpenes such as pinene, walking and exercising in these areas can be incredibly therapeutic. Coupled with the awe of being immersed in nature, it is unsurprising that this activity is fantastic for your health.
Research suggests that forest bathing has many potential benefits. These include improving immune function and cardiovascular health, aiding mental relaxation, and relieving respiratory disorders. It may also be helpful for people suffering from mood disorders such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Pinene
Terpenes such as pinene are an essential part of cannabis therapy. They can enhance the effects of cannabinoids and reduce the likelihood of experiencing adverse effects. This natural synergy is known as the ‘entourage effect’ and is of great interest to cannabis researchers and patients alike.
Pinene has a variety of potential benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antitumor, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects. It may also help to counteract the short-term memory issues that many people experience when using high doses of THC.
Another benefit of high pinene marijuana strains is that they taste great. These strains have a fresh, herbal flavor akin to walking in a lush evergreen forest. So, next time you visit the dispensary, why not give one of these delicious and distinctive strains a try?