Terpene University: Part 2 – Pinene

As we discussed in our article about terpenes and flavonoids, pinene is the most abundant terpene synthesized by plants. If you have a foot in the cannabis industry or are a cannabis admirer, then you’ve almost certainly heard of this popular terpene. Let’s take a closer look into pinene and all it has to offer.

If you’ve recently joined us at Terpene U, here’s a quick roadmap of other popular terpenes we’ve discussed:

And with that, let’s jump into the terpene, Pinene!

What Is Pinene?

Pinene is one of the most researched terpenes due to its abundance in nature. And it’s important we mention that when we use the term “pinene,” we are referring to alpha-pinene and not beta-pinene unless otherwise stated. Both are known for their commonality among cannabis strains, as well as for their therapeutic and medicinal effects.

What Are the Differences Between Alpha- and Beta-Pinene?

Nature is nothing if not efficient. As such, alpha and beta-pinene can be biosynthesized from the same starting molecule. The primary difference between the two terpenes lies in the location of their double-bonded carbon atoms. That is to say, their chemical structures are nearly identical, with the exception of where a hydrogen ion is lost during the final stages of synthesis.

We’re not chemists, so we’ll leave it at that. However, one could view alpha- and beta-pinene molecules as identical twins. Just as identical twins originate from a single egg, so it is with these two versions of pinene that originated from an original compound at the end of biosynthesis. One lost a proton from outside a carbon ring, and the other lost a proton from inside a carbon ring. Otherwise, their molecular structures are the same.

Pinene Chemical Structure
Pinene is another monoterpene with two isomers. Alpha and beta-pinene contain the same number of atoms. However, their differentiating characteristic is in the location of their carbon-carbon double bonds.

That said, alpha-pinene is the dominant of the two produced by cannabis plants and is frequently referred to as just “pinene.” Even so, where you find alpha-pinene, you can be sure varying concentrations of beta-pinene are also present. This is a good thing as your customers can benefit from the benefits of both.

Where Can You Find Pinene?

Although it’s not always possible to pull a literal correlation between the name of a terpene and its aroma, this is true in regard to pinene. This therapeutic terpene can be found in the needles of pine trees (and in its sticky resin to be precise). It can also be found in pine nuts and herbs such as basil and parsley.

And of course, pinene is found in abundance within the trichomes of cannabis plants. Pinene’s aroma often has a significant impact on a strain’s aroma, which differs depending on the concentration of other terpenes also present in the plant’s resin.

What Are the Benefits of Pinene?

Whether from cannabis or other pinene-producing plants, this terpene offers a host of pharmaceutical benefits. As written in an article by the US National Library of Medicine, alpha and beta-pinene have a great many applications that include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anticoagulants
  • Tumor resistance
  • Natural antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant

It’s no wonder science has already researched this terpene extensively. And cannabis is yet another source where this terpene exists in great quantities. Cannabis strains offering one or more of the medical benefits listed above will in most cases contain pinene in their terpene profile.

If you’re a fan of pinene and its contribution to your strain’s entourage effect, some other strains worth researching include:

  • Grape Ape – Popularized by Apothecary Genetics. This strain is known for it’s indica effects, without the “couch lock” or heavy feelings often associated with indica cannabis strains.
  • Cereal Milk – Produced by the brand Cookies, this hybrid strain of cannabis is often used towards the end of the day to alleviate stress and pain.
  • Blue Dream – Produced by Aurora. This strain originated in California and is popular for its forgiving cultivation, higher THC content, and invigorating effects.
  • Train Wreck – Another Californian strain cultivated and crossed with strains from Thailand, Mexico, and Afghanistan. It’s pine-citrus aroma often induces strong sativa effects such as focus and increased energy.

We offer up these strains as a point of reference. Cannabis cultivators and manufacturers are constantly at work to innovate new configurations of terpenes and strains to meet a wide range of medicinal needs for a wide range of customers. Don’t be discouraged if a strain you are growing or working within your lab is similar to another. In the end, it’s the effects of that strain that count, and your customers with notice.

A Closer Look at Alpha-Pinene

Now that we’ve discussed this pinene in detail, here’s a quick snapshot of this useful and abundant terpene. Feel free to bookmark this page so you can easily reference the characteristics of pinene when deciding which cannabis strains to leverage:

AromaPine, of course! Sometimes pinene also carries an earthy scent.
Foods Containing PineneHerbs such as basil and parsley, pine nuts
Natural OccurencesCannabis, pine needles
Common BenefitsAntioxidants, reducing anxiety, antibacterial, bronchodilator
Popular Cannabis StrainsGrape Ape, Cereal Milk, Blue Dream, Train Wreck
Pinene can be found throughout nature and in many herbs and plants. Pinene also shares the terpene profile of many popular cannabis strains.

Understanding the benefits of pinene and the role it plays in the entourage effect is a great way to choose the best cannabis strain to cultivate for your customer’s medicinal or recreational needs.

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