Today we’re spotlighting the alpha-pinene terpene, which is found in cannabis as well as in the essential oils of many plants. While not as well-known as some of the more prolific cannabis terpenes, alpha-pinene is a powerful compound with an array of beneficial properties.
After reading this article, you’ll have a good understanding of its therapeutic effects. We’ll also review a few of the cannabis strains in which alpha-pinene is particularly abundant.
What is alpha-pinene?
Alpha-pinene is an isomer of pinene, one of the many terpenes found in the cannabis plant. (The other isomer is beta-pinene.) Physically speaking, it’s a colorless organic liquid that is soluble in oil and ethanol, but insoluble in water.
As you may have already guessed, it’s most abundant in conifer trees like pine, fir, cedar and spruce. Other plant species containing high concentrations of alpha-pinene include basil, rosemary, mint and bupleurum.
True to its name, alpha-pinene has a sharp, piney aroma. Anyone who has ever gone shopping for a Christmas tree is familiar with this scent. It's usually described as fresh, earthy and woody with hints of turpentine. Indeed, along with beta-pinene, alpha-pinene is the main constituent of turpentine, which is made from the resin of pine trees.
In terms of its commercial utility, the Food and Drug Administration has approved alpha-pinene for use in perfumes, cleaning products, insecticides, and some flavoring agents.
What is the boiling point of alpha-pinene?
The boiling point of alpha-pinene is 155°C (311°F). For the sake of comparison, water has a boiling point of 100°C (212°F).
Knowing a terpenes boiling point may be useful for vaping, cooking, or certain manufacturing process.
Now that we’ve covered the technical side of things, let’s turn our attention to the potential health benefits of this widespread terpene.
Effects & benefits of α Pinene
Besides influencing the smells and tastes of all the different cannabis strains, terpenes make important contributions to each strain’s effects. It’s well-documented that terpenes work hand in glove with cannabinoids to maximize the health benefits of marijuana. But that’s not all they do. Modern research shows that terpenes themselves contain a host of therapeutic properties.
Knowledge of this fact has led to a surge in demand for wholesale terpene products. More and more consumers are looking to buy terpenes online. True Blue, by the way, is wholesale friendly!
When it comes to medicinal value, alpha-pinene is arguably the most impressive terpene of all. A 2019 review published in Biomolecules provides an in-depth look at the various ways in which it can have a positive impact on our health. Here are a few of them.
Preventing antibiotic resistance
One problem associated with using antibiotics to treat bacterial infections is that the bacteria can quickly become resistant to antibiotic drugs, rendering them ineffective. Alpha-pinene can help to prevent this. Specifically, it is frequently used to make antibiotics more effective against C. jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning.
Curbing bacterial growth
A 2005 study found that alpha-pinene (as well as beta-pinene and myrcene) “remarkably inhibited” the growth of various bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus, the bacteria that causes staph infections.
Alpha-pinene has demonstrated an ability to help fight certain types of ovarian, liver and nerve cell cancers. Also, studies have found that α-pinene and β-pinene interact with a drug used to treat lung cancer, increasing its efficacy.
Promoting gut health
Several studies have tested the effects of alpha-pinene on intestinal disorders, particularly stomach ulcers. The results indicated that α-pinene may protect against ulcers and reduce damage to stomach tissue.
The antioxidant effects of alpha-pinene have led researchers to study whether it can help prevent degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. The authors of one 2017 study found that alpha-pinene improved cognitive function in mice, writing that the results “suggest the possible neuroprotective potentials of [alpha-pinene] for the management of dementia with learning and memory loss.”
Alpha-pinene is a known anti-inflammatory agent. Several studies found that it reduced inflammatory reactions in rats. It also reduced nitrite production and exhibited anti-analgesic (aka pain killing) effects.
Research further indicates that alpha-pinene may be an effective agent against seizure disorders, cytotoxicity, dental pain, malaria and acute pancreatitis. No wonder the Biomolecules paper refers to alpha-pinene as “a miracle of nature”!
With all of that said, keep in mind that research into the health benefits of alpha-pinene is far from complete.
Marijuana strains that contain high levels of Alpha-Pinene
Unlike myrcene, linalool and beta-caryophyllene, alpha-pinene is rarely going to be the predominant terpene in a cannabis strain. Still, it is far more abundant in some strains than in others. Below are three that contain notably high levels of alpha-pinene.
This sativa-dominant hybrid is named after author and cannabis activist Jack Herer. Containing around 17% THC, Jack Herer is noted for its potent, energizing high and spicy flavor profile.
Bubba Kush is among the most popular indica strains. You can expect a soothing, full-body high. On the palate you’ll get a sweet earthiness accompanied by piney aromatic notes.
Seasoned cannabis uses swear by this powerful indica strain. Commonly known as GDP, Granddaddy Purple gives off a sweet, layered aroma dominated by grape and berry notes. If you need to relax, de-stress or get some solid shut-eye, GDP is just what the doctor ordered.
Frequently Asked Questions About Alpha-Pinene
Q: What is the difference between alpha and beta-pinene?
A: Alpha- and beta-pinene are two isomers of the same monoterpene, meaning they have the same molecular formula. But there are differences. Whereas α-pinene is soluble in oil and ethanol, β-pinene is oil-insoluble. (Both are water insoluble.) Also, β-pinene has a higher boiling point of 163–166 °C.
Q: Which essential oils contain alpha-pinene?
A: Alpha-pinene is found in the essential oil of numerous plants, including rosemary, cypress, juniper, French lavender, coriander, cumin and bergamot oranges.
Q: Does alpha-pinene have any side effects?
A: Only when administered improperly. For example, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, inhaling alpha-pinene can irritate the nose, throat and lungs. It can also cause irritation to your skin and eyes. And extremely high doses can negatively affect your nervous system.
In other words, don’t inhale it, don’t let it come into contact with your eyes, and don’t ingest an extraordinary quantity of it at one time.
Aalpha-pinene, to recap, is an isomer of the pinene monoterpene. It’s abundant in conifer trees and many other plant species, including cannabis. The available scientific literature suggests that alpha-pinene possesses a sweeping range of health benefits.
If you’d like to avail yourself of these benefits, consider trying one of the high-pinene strains discussed in this article.