Cannabis 101: Pinene, The Earth’s Most Abundant Terpene

You probably know by now that we’re big on terpenes. And we’re not alone: Increasingly, savvy cannabis consumers are focusing on these fragrant hydrocarbons—that’s another way of saying “essential oils”—as a way to characterize different strains of cannabis.

Of course, terpenes aren’t the only way to talk about cannabis. We’re not saying you should forget what you’ve learned about cannabinoids. They’re still an extremely useful way to interpret cannabis strains and predict their effects.

But in addition to imparting their own subtle but powerful characteristics, terpenes do a great deal for our bodies and our minds. Today we’re going to focus on pinene, one of the ten most important of the terpenes in cannabis and, beyond that, the most abundant terpene in the natural world.

What Does Pinene Smell and Taste Like?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, pinene has a distinctively piney and resinous aroma. It’s a hint to other natural sources of pinene: Pine trees, rosemary, orange peels, basil, and parsley, among others. Chemically speaking, there are actually two variants of the terpene: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, but the alpha type—commonly shortened to “a-pinene” is more abundant in cannabis. 

pinene pine tree

If you’ve ever tasted a delicious, slightly bracing and resinous hit of fresh-cut conifer tree in cannabis, it’s a fair guess it’s coming from this little powerhouse of a molecule.

What Does Pinene Do For Us?

Pinene has an anti-inflammatory effect on us, especially when it comes to respiratory function. It may sound counterintuitive, but inhaling pinene-rich cannabis—particularly using a vape pen or vaporizer, which doesn’t actually burn any plant matter—may help reduce inflammation in the lungs and airways, such as asthma. A rodent-based study published in 2015 showed that e-pinene exhibited anti-inflammatory effects.

pinene lungs

Many users report that cannabis strains high in pinene heighten focus and alertness. This is borne out to some degree by a study demonstrating that certain terpenes help combat the short-term memory impairment associated with THC. 

How to Get Pinene from Cannabis

A-pinene is often abundant in cannabis. Again, following your nose may be a good way to sense the presence of this powerful terpene, but for more authoritative data, always buy properly handled, lab-tested cannabis (the only kind we sell!). To help guide you, here are a few popular strains that typically contain healthy levels of a-pinene

pinene from cannabis

Jack Herer is a legendary strain among medical cannabis users, this strain—named for the legendary cannabis activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes—lends a blissful, clear-headed, and inspiring. Again, these qualities are all in accord with a-pinene’s noted focus-enhancing gifts.

Blue Dream is a popular hybrid associated with a gentle euphoria and creative inspiration. If its resinous aromas are often obscured by its strong blueberry nose, this strain typically delivers a potent hit of a-pinene.

One way to tell whether a strain has pinene is to give it a whiff. If it smells like pine trees, you’re in luck!

Ready to try some different strains? Stop by or check out our online menu to see what we have in stock!