If you visit our blog with any frequency—and trust us, you should—you’re familiar with the concept of cannabinoids and terpenes, the “active ingredients” in cannabis. But while they both interact with our bodies in fascinating and medically useful ways, terpenes have the added advantage of contributing delicious aromas and flavors to weed. And none of them more than today’s star terpene: Pinene.
If you’ve ever smelled a distinct “Christmas tree” aroma while lighting up, you’re probably detecting pinene. In addition to being just plain amazing smelling and tasting, pinene is working hard to impart medicinal benefits to our bodies and minds. We’ve written a little bit about how terpenes fight pain before; now let’s take a deep dive into pinene.
Pinene: What Does It Smell and Taste Like?
Not all terpenes smell like they sound, but pinene is a very special terpene. In addition to—yup, you guessed it—imparting a distinctive aroma of pine or “Christmas tree” to cannabis (and actual pine trees!), pinene is found in a wide range of herbs like rosemary, parsley, basil, and even orange peel.
All this adds up to make pinene the most abundant terpene on the planet. There are technically two subtypes of the terpene—alpha-pinene and beta-pinene—but the alpha type (you’ll often see it spelled “a-pinene” or “α-pinene”) is more commonly found in cannabis.
Pinene: What Does It Do For Us?
If you ever need to convince someone that aromas have an effect on our bodies and our minds, here’s a simple test: Ask them to imagine smelling a freshly cut Christmas tree or an evergreen forest, and then ask what it did for their mood. If it made them feel tingly, uplifted or soothed, that might be all the proof you need. And pinene, as it turns out, has a particularly comforting effect on our airways and bronchial passages.
That’s because this terpene imparts a broad range of anti-inflammatory effects, especially on respiratory functioning. And though it might sound counterintuitive, ingesting cannabis with a high pinene content—especially with a vape pen or vaporizer, which are much gentler on lungs than good old burning—can help calm inflammatory responses like asthma.
Pinene affects our moods as well. Remember the exercise about imagining the smell of an evergreen forest? Ingesting it tends to make us feel more lucid, boosting our memory function and attention. This observation is backed up by a study demonstrating that some terpenes can help diminish the short-term memory impairment associated with ingesting THC.
Pinene: How to Get It from Cannabis
Because a-pinene is so distinctive (and found in many strains), you can often just follow your nose! Otherwise, here are a few strains that typically contain high levels of this powerful terpene:
This legendary sativa-dominant hybrid is associated with gentle euphoria, creative inspiration, and full-body relaxation. You might note its strong blueberry scent first, but you’ll be hooked by its strong relief of symptoms (without noticeable sedation).
Typically coming in at a 2:1 CBD/THC ratio, this hybrid strain actually isn’t quite as sedative as the name suggests! Many find it “even-keeled,” offering many medical benefits without the anxiousness and paranoia sometimes associated with too much THC.
Grape Ape is a musky and potent high-THC indica. With a pronounced grape flavor and a memorable scent, this strain delivers a powerful and long-lasting full-body high.
Harlequin is a popular strain for its strong CBD content. It imparts a sativa-dominant uplift, often coupled with a mild euphoria. It’s gentle enough for daytime activities while imparting a smooth CBD-powered ride.