Cannabis buds are covered in oils that secrete a wide array of aromas, mainly to ward off insects as a defense mechanism, but us humans have found medical value in these oils. With cannabis varieties nearing the thousands, there’s a seemingly endless combination of terpene profiles in each strain. These terpenes emit varying scents like citrus, spice, pine, and so much more. One of the most common and medicinally-beneficial terpenes found in cannabis is the alpha-pinene terpene. It’s sibling, the beta-pinene terpene, won’t be discussed as much here, but does contain some anti-inflammatory properties.
Alpha-pinene, as you might have guess it, has a strong scent of pine. Commonly found in conifer trees, parsley, dill, basil, and rosemary, alpha-pinene is easy to detect. If a chemical profile of your cannabis strain is unavailable, just follow your nose. Popular strains with high alpha-pinene levels include Jack Herer, Blue Dream, and OG Kush. This powerful aromatic molecule doesn’t just smell great, it also contains many medicinal benefits.
A study in 2012 showed that alpha-pinene was a potent anti-inflammatory agent against Acute Pancreatitis, an inflammatory disease with an unknown cause. A study in 2011 showed that alpha-pinene, along with all the different cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis, interact synergistically and amplify anti-inflammatory activity. These results show that alpha-pinene is helpful in inflammation management for diseases such as arthritis, Crohn’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Both alpha-pinene and beta-pinene proved to be effective antimicrobial agents against bacterial and fungal cells. In 2011, alpha-pinene was tested as a potent treatment against a bronchitis virus that was previously hard to treat since antibiotics don’t work on viruses. Although not effective against all bacteria and viruses, alpha-pinene protects against a wide range of these infectious diseases. More studies need to be performed to assess the effectiveness of alpha-pinene on all bacteria.
Although one study claims that alpha-pinene exposure can cause upper respiratory irritation, the benefits far outweigh mild negative symptoms. In a 2011 study, alpha-pinene showed promise as a bronchodilator by opening up the upper respiratory tract (at low exposure levels) which can be helpful for people with asthma.
We’ve all heard of the forgetful stoner stereotype. The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) plays a part in decreasing short-term memory attention. The alpha-pinene terpene, however, has been shown to counteract these memory impairing effects. Alpha-pinene plays a strong role in inhibiting acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain, which helps you retain memories more efficiently.
One of the most exciting health benefits of alpha-pinene is its anti-cancer properties. With origins in traditional Chinese medicine, alpha-pinene tested high in inhibitory activity against hepatoma carcinoma cells. This means that alpha-pinene can potentially stop tumor growth and be an effective supplement for chemotherapy treatments. Another study in animal models showed that mice who were exposed to an environment enriched with alpha-pinene reduced their melanoma growth.
Overall, alpha-pinene is a formidable agent against many of today’s illnesses including inflammation, pain, memory problems, asthma, bacteria, viruses, and tumors. Coupled with all the other active cannabinoids and terpenes found in a single strain of cannabis flower, alpha-terpene stands out as one of the more appealing scents with a hot streak for memory and physical improvements.