Pinene Terpene: Effects and Benefits

Pinene may help boost short-term memory and clear the brain fog caused by THC.

Dr. Abraham Benavides is an international cannabis science advisor, health coach, and full-tuition merit scholar of the GW School of Medicine. Abe pioneered and published first-author research with the Cannabis...

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Pinene rich cannabis strains and natural plants
Illustration: Layla Selestrini / CBD Oracle
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Key Takeaways:

  • Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature and one of the top terpenes in Cannabis.
  • Uniquely, it may help boost short-term memory and clear the fog caused by THC.
  • When you hear someone talking about a clear-headed high, they’re probably having a pinene-rich strain.

Characteristics of Pinene

If you love the fresh, woody, forested scent of pine, that’s the pinene you’re enjoying.

Because of its prevalence, pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature. It’s plentiful in evergreen trees and common herbs like:

  • Pine trees, needles, and tar
  • Redwood
  • Cedar
  • Black pepper
  • Conifers
  • Coriander
  • Thyme
  • Dill
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Tea-tree eucalyptus

In these plants and in Cannabis, pinene gives protection against pests like insects. 

Cannabis Strains High in Pinene

Studies consistently find pinene abundantly in the majority of cultivars, or strains, they sample. 

Similarly, you can find pinene in almost every popular cultivar including sativas, hybrids, and indicas. It’s especially notable in famous sativa strains like Sour Diesel. 

Here are some popular cannabis strains that are rich in pinene:

  • AC/DC
  • Chemdawg
  • Trainwreck 
  • Sour Diesel 
  • Super Lemon Haze 
  • Lemon Skunk
  • CBD Skunk Haze 
  • Purple Kush
  • Blue Cheese 
  • Finola
  • Futura 
  • Banana Blaze 
  • Master Kush 
  • Blue Auto Mazar 
  • Mokum’s Tulip 
  • Ultimate 
  • Cinderella Jack 
  • Outlaw Amnesia 
  • Xtreme 
  • White Widow 
  • Frisian Dew 
  • Purple No. 1 
  • Passion Fruit

Effects: What Does Pinene Do?

One of the most interesting aspects of pinene is its ability to boost short-term memory. It can even help counter the short-term memory loss from THC. 

This happens because it works as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it stops the breakdown of the brain’s chemical messengers and improves communication between brain cells.

Basically, it acts as a weaker form of a drug that we give to people with Alzheimer’s, giving a new hopeful direction for researchers

There are several types of pinene, most notably alpha and beta. They are nearly identical, with one key exception. Emerging research suggests beta-pinene may also synergize with THC to increase its CB1 effects, while alpha-pinene decreases short-term memory deficits. 

Therapeutic Benefits of Pinene

Pinene is one of the main active ingredients in an over-the-counter preparation called Rowatinex.

Several studies support its effectiveness for people with kidney stones. It can help with kidney-related pain, spasms, inflammation, and clear out remnants of kidney stones after it’s blasted apart by shockwaves. 

In preclinical studies and folk medicine, pinene itself may also have the following benefits:

Side Effects

There are a handful of clinical studies involving high-dose pinene in both essential oil and aromatherapy forms. So far, none show any serious or even mild side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

The pinene in your food, cosmetics, and cannabis is naturally and safely diluted. However, concentrated forms of pinene are used in detergents and cleaners, like Pine-Sol®. 

You should avoid consuming concentrated or synthetic forms of pinene and other terpenes. Doing so may result in side effects ranging from irritation to the skin, eyes, gut, airways, and mucous membranes, to unknown or even serious side effects usually from occupational exposure.


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