What is Pinene?
Pinene is one of the major terpenes found in cannabis. There two kinds of pinene: alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. This terpene gets its name from, well, the aroma of pine trees. This terpene is responsible for that delicious scent similar to that of pine and fir, and is also found in many strains of cannabis. But aside from lending an aromatic smell to strains, pinene also has several health benefits.
In fact, the health benefits of pinene have been known for centuries. Ancient civilizations would strip barks of pine trees and puncture them just to collect the resin, which contained valuable amounts of pinene. They distilled the resin in water, creating a substance called turpentine. This was used to treat a variety of conditions, and was even diluted in wine, milk, or water to treat respiratory conditions. It was also used as an expectorant back then. Other ancient uses of pinene included mixing it with bee’s wax or another animal’s fat, in order to apply it topically as an antimicrobial agent or analgesic.
Indigenous tribes including those in America have been using pine needles for hundreds of years. They would also make it into a tea to help relieve sore throats, fevers, colds, lung infections, and congestions. Today, many of these tribes still use pine in their purifying rituals because of its amazing healing properties.
Pinene is found in many other plants as well including both conifer and non-coniferous plants. Pinene is most abundant in pine wood, roseary, balsamic resin, and in certain citrus fruits.
Health Benefits of Pinene
Pinene has significant health benefits for cannabis users. These include:
- Bronchodilator: Cannabis strains that are high in pinene have shown to be effective in helping to open up the airways of the respiratory system, which makes it beneficial for those who are suffering from asthma as well as other respiratory illnesses. Researchers also suggest that pinene may be beneficial as treatment for people who are exposed to toxins and chemicals in their work environment, such as those who work in industrial cleanups.
- Lung protection: Studies also show that pinene is helpful in protecting the lungs from certain viral infections. One study showed that the molecules in different varieties of pinene were beneficial in preventing the spread of the bronchitis virus. The study’s researchers also concluded that pinene could be an effective natural remedy against the bronchitis virus.
- Cancer: Studies also show that pinene may be promising in reducing tumors from hepatoma cells. It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-cancer properties when extracted from pine needle oil. In 2013, a study revealed that pinene was effective in inhibiting the spread of cancerous cells.
- Alertness and memory: Strains that have high levels of pinene can help improve mental alertness as well as memory retention, thanks to its piney smell (this is also the same reason why pinene in essential oils are used to keep one alert and awake.) Additionally, the molecular size of pinene makes it easy for this terpene to enter the blood-brain barrier, where it acts to inhibit an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase and as a result it improves memory retention.
- Anti-microbial: Pinene has long been known to have anti-bacterial properties, although it’s only been thoroughly analyzed more in the last few years. A 2007 study analyzing pinene’s ability to treat infectios endocarditis found that both versions of the terpene, the alpha and beta pinene, were effective in killing bacteria. Another study conducted in 2012 showed that pinene has therapeutic properties in killing bacteria, depending on the type of bacteria present.
- Inflammation: Studies show that pinene has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, another important reason why cannabis is extremely powerful in preventing and treating cancers and tumors as well as numerous other conditions that are caused by inflammation. A 2014 study also showed that because pinene displays powerful anti-inflammatory properties that it may help with arthritis.
- Depression: Cannabis strains as well as essential oils that contain pinene have been shown to have effective antidepressant properties. For this reason, oils with pinene have been used to treat depression, as part of traditional Mexican medicine.