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Tap Into Terpenes: Learn About Pinene

Pinene is the most common terpene found in nature, so it should come as no surprise that it’s abundant in cannabis as well. Not only does it contribute to that familiar woodsy outdoor scent, but pinene offers a long list of potential effects that can augment your cannabis experience. If pinene has piqued your interest, this guide will introduce you to the terpene and what researchers know so far about it.

Pinene: the basics

  • Flavors: Herbal, woody
  • Aromas: Fresh pine, mint
  • Effects: Analgesic, stress alleviating, energizing, antioxidant, antimicrobial, bronchodilator[1]
  • Often found alongside: Limonene, myrcene, beta caryophyllene
  • Also found in: Pine needles, basil, rosemary

There are two types of pinene: alpha pinene and beta pinene. The most robust research has been performed on alpha pinene, which is also the most common version of pinene found in cannabis. For these reasons, we primarily focus on alpha pinene for the remainder of this article. 

How does pinene make you feel?

Pinene is often associated with energizing cultivars (strains) that help people stay alert and focused. You may find that strains high in pinene support an energetic, euphoric, or creative cannabis experience. This may be related to researchers’ observations that pinene modulates the effects of THC, reducing the feelings of intoxication associated with that cannabinoid. Pinene does this by crossing the blood/brain barrier to modify the binding affinity of cannabinoids to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain[2].

Pinene is thought to do much more than just provide energy and focus, though – it may play a role in alleviating stress. One animal study that involved the inhalation of pinene found that “a therapeutic concentration … may induce an anxiolytic-like effect,” alleviating stress and providing a calming effect[3].

Pinene is also thought to be a neuroprotective terpene. One in vitro study on human cells found that pinene prevents oxidative stress, potentially preventing damage to organs related to free radicals[4]. Additionally, another in vitro study on human cells found that pinene’s neuroprotective properties could enhance memory by inhibiting an enzyme called cholinesterase, which is the same mechanism of action by which current memory enhancing and anti-dementia medications work[5]

Finally, pinene could serve as an analgesic, relieving certain types of pain caused by conditions associated with inflammation. Several animal studies revealed that pinene can serve to mitigate pain caused by inflammation-related diseases[6].

How does pinene interact with other terpenes?

Categorizing terpenes by their potential clinical effects can be tempting, but alpha pinene isn’t guaranteed to behave the same way each time it’s consumed. Pinene and other terpenes vary in their observed properties depending on which cannabinoids and terpenes are present alongside them and in what amounts. This phenomenon, known as the entourage effect, remains a major question for cannabis researchers and it’s not yet precisely understood. So, while the properties of pinene mentioned above are well documented, it is not always a given that they will be experienced in this manner when consuming a particular cannabis product. 

If you want to maximize the odds that pinene’s characteristics are emphasized, choose a cannabis product with complementary terpenes. For example, if pinene’s energizing and stress alleviating qualities motivate you, consider a product that is also high in limonene and Cannabidiol (CBD). If you are interested in the analgesic properties observed in pinene, perhaps a product that prominently features myrcene and beta caryophyllene will best meet your needs.

What strains are high in pinene?

While extremely common in nature and even in cannabis, pinene is not typically the most dominant terpene. In cannabis flower, any pinene levels higher than 1% are considered significant, and unlike most other terpenes, the same is true for pinene found in concentrates and edibles. 

Here’s a closer look at some strains of cannabis flower that contain naturally high levels of pinene:

  • Blue Dream: Pinene appears alongside the dominant terpene of myrcene and beta caryophyllene in this strain. Blue Dream consumers report a happy, relaxed experience conducive to alleviating stress and elevating mood. It is also commonly cited as an effective strain for relieving pain. This sativa-dominant hybrid is a cross between the strains Blueberry and Haze.
  • Chemdog OG: This strain’s terpene profile, which includes pinene, creates a sour, piney aroma with a fresh, crisp flavor. You may find Chemdog OG to be uplifting and energizing effective for alleviating stress and relieving pain. This sativa-dominant hybrid is the result of a cross between Chemdawg and OG Kush.
  • Bubblegum: Bubblegum is a relatively high-pinene strain that also contains myrcene and beta caryophyllene, making it an excellent option if you want to alleviate both stress and pain. Many consumers report feelings of happiness and relaxation when consuming this sativa-dominant hybrid.

Pinene: nature’s energetic and creative terpene

Pinene could offer a wide range of clinical effects that could be beneficial to a wide range of consumers. As one of the most common terpenes in nature and in cannabis, you’re likely to find at least a little bit in many strains. Whether you are simply looking for an energizing experience that keeps you sharp and focused, or the potential neuroprotective and pain relieving benefits observed by researchers, strains that are high in pinene might be right for you. Check the Ethos menu to see what’s available, and if you have questions while browsing the menu, discuss your options with an Ethos associate. We are happy to help you find the best product available to suit your preferences and goals.

Sources:

1. Medicinal properties of terpenes found in Cannabis sativa and Humulus lupulus: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30096653/

2. Pinene: The Anti-Inflammatory Terpene That Helps Respiratory Conditions: https://cannabisaficionado.com/pinene-the-anti-inflammatory-terpene-that-helps-respiratory-conditions/

3. Intracerebral Distribution of a-Pinene and the Anxiolytic-like Effect in Mice Following Inhaled Administration of Essential Oil from Chamaecyparis obtuse: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26434146/

4. In vitro neuroprotective potential of the monoterpenes α-pinene and 1,8-cineole against H2O2-induced oxidative stress in PC12 cells: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27352445/

5. In-vitro inhibition of human erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase by salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil and constituent terpenes: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10933142/

6. Therapeutic Potential of α- and β-Pinene: A Miracle Gift of Nature: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920849/7. What is pinene and what does this cannabis terpene do? https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-pinene-and-what-are-the-benefits-of-this-cannabis-terpene

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