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What is Alpha Pinene?

| Spencer Beaudreault

If you have ever taken the time to research cannabis for medical purposes, there’s a good chance that you have read a bit about terpenes. Terpenes are naturally occurring essential oils that are responsible for the wide variety of scents and flavor profiles associated with plants, including the cannabis plant. Terpenes, however, play a far larger factor in different cannabis strains than simply affecting or altering the tastes and scents of the strain. In fact, it is a widely held belief that terpenes can also drastically impact the experiences associated with cannabis. Some terpenes may assist with elevating the mood of an individual, while others seem to focus on alleviating various aches and pains.

Currently, it is believed that there are over 200,000 known terpenes in existence. They’re found everywhere, in nearly every plant, and even in some insects!

In this article, we will be focusing on a terpene that happens to be one of the most common substances found not only in cannabis, but within nature: alpha pinene.

Alpha pinene, also known as A-Pinene.

“What is alpha pinene?”

“What are A-pinene effects like?”

“What are some of the Alpha Pinene benefits?”

All of these questions and more will be answered in detail in order to effectively understand what one can expect from this extremely popular terpene.

Let’s first begin by going over a brief introduction on alpha pinene and where it can be commonly found.

A pine tree to represent what is alpha pinene

 

A Brief Introduction Into Alpha Pinene

As previously mentioned, alpha pinene/a-pinene is one of the most commonly found oils within nature. Rosemary, eucalyptus, mint, and dill all have rather large amounts of alpha pinene within them. Evergreen trees are especially known for having high levels of the alpha pinene terpene. In fact, it is for this reason that evergreen trees have such a strong, earthy scent that we commonly refer to as pine, or piney. This terpene has been used for years in cleaning solutions and solvents, perfumes, and even medication. Pinene as a whole is divided into two separate chemical structures: alpha pinene, or A-pinene, and beta pinene, or B-pinene. Alpha pinene is generally found within higher amounts in most plants than beta pinene. A-pinene is also slightly water soluble, while B-pinene is not water soluble. Generally speaking, however, where you find alpha pinene you will most often also find beta pinene.

So, alpha pinene is found in abundance within nature and is in a wide variety of different plants in addition to being found within cannabis. So what is the point of discussing this terpene if we already use it for several different purposes?

Some believe that alpha pinene is not currently being utilized to its full potential. Alpha pinene may very well possess the ability to drastically alter the daily lives of millions of individuals for the better. Let’s dive further into some of the alpha pinene effects as well as the alpha pinene benefits.

pine cones next to a cannabis bud to show pinene a pinene and b pinene

 

Alpha Pinene Terpene Effects & Alpha Pinene Benefits

The list of potential benefits and effects associated with alpha pinene are numerous, and below we will cover a few of the most commonly reported benefits of this terpene. While alpha pinene terpene effects and alpha pinene benefits are still going through a wide variety of study and research, here are some of the most commonly reported effects and benefits that this terpene is said to possess:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties. If you have read some of our previous terpene-based articles, you have probably noticed a pattern with many different terpenes. Alpha pinene is believed by many to have the ability to combat inflammation rather aggressively. So much so that there have been recent talks of possibly using alpha pinene as a medication specifically to work against inflammation for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, and other disorders in which inflammation is commonplace. While this has yet to be FDA approved, it does provide a glimpse into the level of effectiveness that alpha pinene may possess in combating inflammation. Rodent studies do not always translate perfectly into human case studies, but they certainly are a major step!
  2. Assistance with asthma. It has been known for quite some time that alpha pinene may act as a bronchodilator for select individuals. A bronchodilator is defined as a substance that has the ability to dilate the bronchi within the lungs. By dilating the bronchi, the lungs are able to intake larger amounts of oxygen. For those who may suffer from asthma, bronchodilators are commonly used in inhalers in order to alleviate the wheezing and shortness of breath commonly associated with asthma. In severe cases of asthma attacks, this can quite literally be the difference between life and death, and on a more minor note, bronchodilators allow asthma sufferers to breathe with less resistance. If alpha pinene truly has the ability to benefit those struggling to breathe, this would be a massive change to the current state of asthma-focused medication. Alpha pinene is found in abundance within nature, and could potentially one day become a cheap, natural alternative to other medications. While studies on the effects of a-pinene on those suffering from asthma are ongoing, this is massive news for the terpene!
  3. Anti-Anxiety properties. Alpha pinene has also been found in some studies to help alleviate some level of stress and anxiety for select individuals. It is believed that the scent and consumption of both alpha pinene as well as beta pinene can allow a person to relax and gain some relief from anxiety attacks. Alpha Pinene may also be able to help manage some of the negative side effects that are commonly associated with the consumption of THC, namely the anxiety that many individuals commonly report from higher doses of THC. Strains that have higher levels of alpha pinene are not often claimed to cause as much of the anxiety as strains that do not possess high levels of alpha pinene.
  4. Short term memory. Believe it or not, there are some reports that indicate the ability of alpha pinene to assist with short term memory. When factoring in the fact that one of the most commonly reported negative effects from longtime use of cannabis is short term memory impairment, this can prove alpha pinene to be an extremely beneficial terpene. Just as alpha pinene is believed to have the ability to combat the anxiety commonly associated with THC use, it is also believed to be able to combat the memory impairment that many experience. This is believed to occur because alpha pinene can act as a sort of inhibitor for acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase is one of the most abundant neurotransmitters found within our nervous system, and is crucial in allowing the brain to turn short term memories into long term memories. However, when there is an excess of acetylcholinesterase within our nervous system, it can actually be quite detrimental to short term memory. By essentially “blocking” much of the acetylcholinesterase, alpha pinene is believed to have the ability to keep our short term memory sharp even as we age.

  5. Focus. Yet another common negative side effect associated with the use of THC is the brain fog that nearly everyone will experience at one point or another when using THC. Brain fog can prove to make basic tasks more difficult to accomplish, and the higher the dose of THC, the higher the sensation of brain fog, so to speak. Alpha pinene is said to be extremely effective at allowing users to stay focused on a specific task. This can prove to be beneficial for those who may not even use THC! Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder are two of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. With these diagnoses often come a variety of different prescription drugs, and then even more prescription drugs to combat all of the side effects that come with them! Adderall is one of the most often prescribed drugs for these two disorders, and also one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the nation. What if instead of jumping to potentially harmful and habit forming stimulants, we could rely on an all natural and safe terpene like alpha pinene, which possesses little to no known side effects? Imagine a world in which we don’t have to run and fill prescriptions, hope that they don’t run out before you can get your next prescription filled, and deal with some of the often disturbing side effects of said prescription. This could prove to become a reality in the not-so-far future. Studies on the effects of alpha pinene on those who have trouble focusing are ongoing, so time will tell what the true potential of a-pinene and b-pinene really are.

focus is one of the pinene terpene effects that you can potentially experience

In short, alpha pinene may very well possess several potentially world-changing effects and benefits. Benefits that could drastically alter the way we view medication. It isn’t a miracle drug, and like all substances, your personal experience with alpha pinene may vary.

But, if there is even a small chance that alpha pinene can provide some of the benefits that are currently being looked into, then all of the research will be worth it.

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