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Tap Into Terpenes: Learn About Terpinolene

Terpinolene is typically considered a minor terpene in cannabis, but it’s found in high volumes in many cultivars (strains). In the right ratios alongside other terpenes and phytocannabinoids, it may help boost a particular strain’s calming and uplifting experience. Although it’s often overshadowed by its more well-studied and prominent cousins like myrcene and linalool, its prominence and prevalence make it important to consider while evaluating a strain’s terpene profile. What’s known about terpinolene, and what can you expect when you consume a strain high in this terpene?

Terpinolene: the basics

  • Flavors: Citrusy
  • Aromas: Pine, floral 
  • Effects: Calming, uplifting, antinociceptive (dampens pain sensation), analgesic, wound healing, antioxidant[1]
  • Often found alongside: Myrcene, beta caryophyllene, limonene, pinene
  • Also found in: Cumin, parsnip, rosemary, sage

Terpinolene is one of the many terpenes in cannabis responsible for a strain’s floral notes. Often found alongside myrcene, beta caryophyllene, limonene, and pinene, terpinolene is found in high volumes, defined as greater than 1% by weight, despite being classified as a “minor” terpene.  

One of the uniting concepts of high terpinolene strains are consumer reports of relaxation and mood elevation. While its antinociceptive qualities could make it a good contributor for analgesic purposes, research is still needed to definitively determine the connection between terpinolene and effects like pain relief, dampening the sensation of pain, and mood.

How does terpinolene make you feel?

If anecdotal evidence is any guide, terpinolene appears frequently in strains that consumers report as energizing, uplifting, and calming. But what does the science say? Research into terpinolene has been limited compared to the major terpenes, but studies suggest it may offer a few key clinical benefits.

An in vitro (cell culture) study of terpinolene demonstrated improved wound healing through a reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress[2]. While much can change from an in vitro study to human clinical trials, researchers concluded that terpinolene “may contribute to broadening clinical options in the treatment of wounds by attenuating inflammation and oxidative stress.”

Additionally, an animal study of terpinolene’s ability to offer pain blocking characteristics for inflammatory pain (called antinociceptive properties) found promising results. After monitoring results of lab mice administered terpinolene, researchers concluded that terpinolene could effectively mitigate inflammatory pain; the researchers also cited linalool, suggesting that terpene offers a similar function[3]. However, it is important to note that animal studies are highly limited when translated to humans, and that the amounts of terpinolene used in this study were significantly higher than the normal amount of terpinolene content you’d find in a cannabis product.

Finally, a research review of several studies involving terpinolene identified potential antioxidant benefits which could prevent damage to organs, including the heart and lungs. Researchers describe terpinolene’s potential in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases[4] through the prevention of low-density lipoprotein oxidation. 

While far more research needs to be conducted before any conclusions can or should be drawn about terpinolene, what’s emerging from these reviews and animal studies is intriguing and may help support the anecdotal evidence reported by consumers. Human clinical trials can help us better understand precisely how terpinolene could impact human health and wellness, particularly in the amounts found in many cannabis strains.

High terpinolene strains

In cannabis flower, terpinolene can exceed 2.5% volume by weight on the high end, while it reaches up to 5% or 6% in cartridges and concentrates, respectively. Terpinolene tends to be less prominent in edibles, which often contain less than 2% terpinolene by weight; however, it is common for this terpene to exceed 1% in edibles, which is still significant by the standards of many other terpenes.

  • Durban Poison: Terpinolene is the star of the show in Durban Poison, making up about 75% of this strain’s terpene profile alongside myrcene and beta caryophyllene. Durban Poison is well known for its energizing and uplifting effects, a favorite of consumers who are looking for a creative spark. If you’re looking to relieve stress and boost your mood, Durban Poison may be a great strain for you.
  • Golden Goat: Another energizing strain, Golden Goat prominently features myrcene alongside beta caryophyllene and a touch of pinene and terpinolene. Many consumers cite Golden Goat as a strong choice for stress alleviation and mood elevation as well, and others still use it for its pain-relieving properties.
  • Lamb’s Bread: Lamb’s Bread contains one of the most common terpene trio to appear in cannabis – myrcene, beta caryophyllene, and limonene. With terpinolene accompanying these major terpenes, the strain offers an energizing experience and citrusy flavors. Like other high terpinolene strains, many consumers report Lamb’s Bread as a go-to option in reducing stress and boosting mood. 

Terpinolene is common in relaxing, uplifting strains

As you can see from the high terpinolene strains referenced above, this terpene is a common component of strains celebrated for stress-busting and mood-boosting properties. A subtle, lingering sweetness hovers just beneath its crisp and citrusy flavor, with floral and pine-like notes completing the sensory experience. As for its pain-relieving, pain signal-blocking, and antioxidant effects, researchers are still uncovering how humans experience those effects, and in what amounts terpinolene needs to be consumed to benefit. If you want to incorporate a strain high in terpinolene into your cannabis routine, discuss your options with an Ethos associate or pharmacist. We are happy to help you find the best product available to suit your needs.

Sources:

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

2. Wound healing activity of terpinolene … by attenuating inflammation and oxidative stress in vitro: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30792116/

3. Association of terpinolene and diclofenac presents antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory synergistic effects in a model of chronic inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918787/

4. The monoterpene terpinolene from the oil of Pinus mugo L. in concert with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene effectively prevents oxidation of LDL: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16008117/

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