By LeeWEpstein

January 28, 2020


More and more cannabis users are aware of the complex molecular chemistry of the plant they consume. Terpenes such as terpinolene are the molecules responsible for the intense flavor and aroma of many varieties. However, while the main purpose of this family of hydrocarbons would be to defend against pests and predators, terpenes are highly effective therapeutically by working with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

More than 20,000 terpenes are found in nature, and about 200 have been identified in cannabis. Terpinolene is considered a minor or secondary terpene very similar to another terpene, terpineol. But although terpineol is produced in abundance in cannabis plants (and in many others), terpinolene may well be the least concentrated terpene in cannabis. This does not mean, however, that it will not be important. Indeed, although present in very small amounts, it plays a key role in the taste and smell of many varieties. 

Thus, the aroma of this terpene is more multidimensional than that of others. In other words, linalool smells like flowers and limonene smells like citrus fruits. Terpinolene, on the other hand, is characterized by its aroma and flavor of flowers, pine, and citrus. Also, you can find it in other plant species such as tea tree, conifers, apple, cumin, sage, rosemary or lilac, but it is mostly associated with an intriguing fresh aroma, which is why it is often used as an additive in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumery, or as a flavoring or preservative in various sectors of the food industry. 

Terpinolene Properties

Unlike other terpenes found in cannabis, terpinolene does not relieve pain and does not act as an anti-inflammatory. Instead, researchers have studied its antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and sedative properties.

Thus, terpinolene has long been used as a natural antiseptic to heal superficial wounds and prevent infection or inflammation. However, recent studies have discovered other, as yet unknown properties. One of them for instance is its ability to enhance the action of cannabinoids, including CBN, which is very effective in restoring sleep.

Thus, its qualities make it a powerful agent…

Antifungal and antibacterial: inhibits the growth of bacteria and the spread of fungi

Given its close connection to the tea tree, it is not surprising that its antimicrobial action is one of the most powerful. This had already been verified in 1995 on the cannabis plant, but it was not until 2015 that it could be confirmed following tests on Diplotaenia damavandica, a plant with 20 percent terpinolene in its genetic composition. Besides, it has shown great efficacy against E. coli, salmonella, and other pathogens. And like many other terpenes, terpinolene can play an important role in the control of insect pests. According to a 2009 study, this terpene may help to repel mosquitoes, beetles and weevils.

Anticancer: inhibits the growth of cancer cells

In two separate studies, terpinolene was found to slow cancer growth by regulating cellular proteins. One study, published in the journal ‘Oncology Letters’ in 2012, found that a natural treatment with sage and rosemary (containing terpinolene) could reduce the expression of a protein that promotes cancer cell progression. Therefore, cannabis would not only serve to prevent cancer but would also inhibit malignant cells when they appear.

Sedative: helps insomnia to fall asleep

Terpinolene is also known for its remarkable sedative properties, making it a valuable weapon against insomnia and even anxiety. Currently, it is used in combination with lilacs to treat certain sleep disorders. Its sedative action is mild but effective, which means that it can also be applied to calm anxiety attacks or nervousness. A 2013 study published in the “Journal of Natural Medicines” revealed that terpinolene was an effective analgesic for the central nervous system, thanks to an experiment carried out on mice in which they inhaled terpinolene to see the sedative effect on the whole body.

Antioxidant: prevents cell oxidation damage

As if that wasn’t impressive enough as it is, a 2005 study also showed that terpinolene was an effective treatment for heart disease, which remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. As an antioxidant, it has been shown to potentially prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and reduce cell damage. LDL, also known as “bad cholesterol”, can build up in the arteries and is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease.

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