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Patients just getting started with medical cannabis may be familiar with cannabis components such as “CBD” or “THC”. These are just two of many, many pieces that lend healing properties to this medicinal herb. Also contained within cannabis are terpenes.

Terpenes are the essential oils found in plants. In cannabis, terpenes are buried inside the crystalline trichomes. They offer potent aromas, as well as, a bounty of medicinal benefits. Terpenes are why some patients may favor different varieties of cannabis to others.

The entourage effect (1) shows cannabinoids work synergistically (more effective when combined). Terpenes play a huge role in the entourage effect by enhancing the therapeutic value of the herb.

This issue, we’re focusing on pinene (α-pinene and β-pinene). Found in pine trees, alpha-pinene is Earth’s most abundant terpene (2). A research study from 2010 shows flowers high in alpha-pinene were repellent to insects (3). Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene may also be found in Rosemary, Turpentine, and Allspice.

You can experience the effects of Pinene through the ancient Japanese practice of Forest Bathing(5). The activity, which has been seen to decrease stress and lower blood pressure, is simply enjoying a leisurely stroll through the forest.

Pinene has considerable health benefits including memory aid (6), anti-inflammatory (7), antimicrobial (8). A 2015 study(9) suggests α-pinene can effectively suppress tumor growth. Next time you visit a medical cannabis dispensary, ask to see products that are high in pinene.

α-Pinene Effects:
Pain, Inflammation, Energy, Calming, Focus, Uplifting

β-Pinene Effects:
Pain, Inflammation, Energy, Focus

(1)Ben-Shabet, 1998
(2)Noma Y, Asakawa Y. Biotransformation of monoterpenoids by microorganisms, insects, and mammals. In: Baser KHC, Buchbauer G, editors. Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications.Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2010. pp. 585–736.
(4)Perry NS, Houghton PJ, Theobald A, Jenner P, Perry EK. In-vitro inhibition of human erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase by salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil and constituent terpenes. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2000;52:895–902.
(6)Gil ML, Jimenez J, Ocete MA, Zarzuelo A, Cabo MM. Comparative study of different essential oils of Bupleurum gibraltaricum Lamarck. Pharmazie. 1989;44:284–287.
(7)Raman A, Weir U, Bloomfield SF. Antimicrobial effects of tea-tree oil and its major components on Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes. Lett Appl Microbiol. 1995;21:242–245.