It’s a safe guess that you’re familiar with cannabinoids, the “active ingredients” in cannabis including THC and CBD. But they’re far from the whole story; the cannabis plant—along with countless plants, herbs, trees, and other natural products—contains many dozens of terpenes. These fragrant hydrocarbons (another way of saying “essential oils”) are what give different strains of cannabis their specific aromas, flavors, and much more.
That’s right: In addition to imparting their own aromatic characteristics, terpenes can exert powerful effects on our bodies and our minds. Today we’ll focus on pinene, the most abundant terpene in the world and one of the ten most important found in cannabis.
Pinene: What Does It Smell and Taste Like?
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that pinene has a distinctively piney or “Christmas tree” aroma. That should serve as a hint to other natural sources of pinene: trees like pine and spruce, most obviously, but also rosemary, basil, and even orange peel. Chemically speaking, there are two variants of the terpene: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. The alpha type—commonly shortened to “a-pinene”—tends to be more abundant in cannabis.
What Does It Do For Us?
Have you ever noticed that breathing in the scent of fresh fir trees has a pleasingly soothing effect on your breathing? That’s no accident; pinene appears to have an anti-inflammatory effect, especially when it comes to our respiratory functions.
Similarly, you aren’t imagining the pleasingly bracing mental effect of breathing in fresh-cut conifer trees. It’s believed that because pinene readily penetrates the blood-brain barrier, it tends to protect certain transmitter molecules. According to research, some people find that exposure to this terpene makes them feel more lucid and improves memory and attention. One study demonstrated that certain terpenes may help diminish the short-term memory impairment associated with THC.
While more studies are needed to determine exactly how terpenes within cannabis affect us, we are starting to learn more about these cool compounds.
Pinene: How to Get It from Cannabis
Many cannabis strains contain a-pinene, and a good rule of thumb is to follow your nose. You’ll likely smell the presence of this powerful terpene, but for added safety and surety, we always recommend you only purchase properly handled, lab-tested cannabis (you can read more about why purchasing from a legal dispensary is so important). Here are a few popular strains of cannabis that typically contain high levels of a-pinene:
Grape Ape is a musky and potent high-THC indica. With a pronounced grape flavor, a relaxing body high, and a pungent, memorable scent, this strain delivers a powerful and long-lasting full-body experience.
Harlequin is a popular strain for its strong CBD content. It imparts a sativa-dominant uplift, often with a very mild euphoria. It’s mild enough for daytime activities while imparting a gentle CBD-powered ride.
ACDC is another favorite among the medical marijuana community, averaging around a 20:1 CBD/THC ratio. Its psychoactivity is barely perceptible, making this high-pinene strain a great choice for daily users who want to combat anxiety, pain, and tension with subtle, sustainable relief.
Blue Dream is a popular hybrid associated with a gentle euphoria and creative inspiration. If its resinous aromas are often buried by its strong blueberry scent, this strain typically delivers a potent hit of a-pinene.
If you want to become a patient in Minnesota, you can learn more about qualifying conditions and the certification process. And look out for more educational blogs about flower and terpenes coming soon!