In our Terpenes 411 column, we’ll be talking about terpenes, which are aromatic compounds found in every plant, including marijuana. Not only do they give our favorite strains their distinctive scents—they also play a major part in providing therapeutic effects. There are over 100 different terpenes in the cannabis plant, and while each has its own benefits, when they come together with THC, CBD, other terpenes, and our own biological makeup, they interact synergistically, resulting in what is known as The Entourage Effect. In the coming weeks, we’ll be delving into, and providing a full-fledged education, about this buzzword that you’ve likely been hearing about all over the place.
Terpenes are nature’s essential oils, found in not only in cannabis, but also in trees, fruits, plants, and even some insects. Some characteristics of terpenes can be obvious. For example, the scent of the terpene a-pinene is exactly what you’d assume by its name: It smells like pine needles. Think of it as the Christmas tree-esque terpene, if you will. Other characteristics of terpenes, such as its wellness benefits, are a little less obvious.
The pinene terpene is actually comprised of two sister terpenes: the aforementioned a-pinene, or alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. Though there are two types, their molecular structure is identical, and they are found in many of the same plants, like conifer trees, rosemary, basil, parsley, and dill. Alpha-pinene smells like pine needles and rosemary, while beta-pinene’s scent is more akin to dill or parsley. Beta-pinene is also found in allspice.
The benefits of pinene are vast. Studies show that pinene can help protect the brain against short-term memory loss, negating the forgetful stoner stereotype. Another study showed that Alpha-pinene can help you breathe easier; it’s been found to open the lung passages, possibly alleviating respiratory issues. Other benefits of pinene include its antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.