It is estimated that more than 6,000 strains of cannabis exist, most of which are hybrids (a mix of indica and sativa) that have been bred by humans. In each of these thousands of strains, more than 200 terpenes can be present. These 200 terpenes are often categorized as “major” and “minor” based on their typical weight by volume within a sample of cannabis. Like myrcene and limonene, pinene is considered a major terpene.
As one might guess, the terpene pinene carries the aroma of pine (imagine taking a deep breath under the canopy of a large spruce tree). But terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis; more than 20,000 varieties of these miracle molecules appear in nature. Pinene is also present in orange peels, pine needles, basil, and parsley.
The often intense aroma of cannabis strains high in pinene makes them relatively easy to identify. Because most pot users are purchasing on the black market, laboratory test results aren’t part of the deal.
Thus, the aroma (in addition to the general morphology of the buds) is the only clue available to determine the particular terpenes that might be present.
There are two varieties of pinene: alpha and beta. The alpha sibling conveys an aroma of pine needles or rosemary, while the beta type under one’s nose will remind them of dill, parsley, basil, or hops (a herbal cousin of cannabis).
Another medicinal molecule
Pinene is significant from a medical perspective for many different reasons. In 2011, the British Journal of Pharmacology published a study conducted by renowned cannabis researcher Ethan Russo.
It found that alpha-pinene carries anti-inflammatory properties that can help patients with inflammation-related diseases, including arthritis, cancer, and Crohn’s.
Many creative professionals prefer strains high in pinene because of its ability to enhance focus and alertness, especially when it appears in a sativa strain.
It’s no secret that THC affects short-term memory. In addition to acting as an anti-inflammatory agent and helping users focus, pinene has been found to counter the short-term memory loss that if often caused by THC. It can also buffer the overall intensity of too much THC, helping prevent negative psychological reactions like paranoia.
However, pine’s medical efficacy doesn’t stop there. It acts as a powerful bronchodilator, meaning that it helps lung and respiratory system functions (check out the 2002 study published in the journal Inhalation Toxicology).
This means real benefits for those suffering from conditions like asthma, for which cannabis has been found to be very effective.
Best strains for pinene
Many cannabis consumers prefer a strong indica, while others become incapacitated by such strains and prefer a solid sativa. Fortunately, pinene can be found in relatively plentiful quantities in many popular sativa, indica, and hybrid strains.