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In this chapter, we cover the terpene that may remind you of the forest, known as pinene. Does pinene have any benefits, and if so, what are they? How does pinene smell and taste when it’s present in cannabis? We answer these questions right here.

Chapter 8 · 4 min read

In this chapter, we break down the terpene pinene. What is pinene, what does it smell and taste like, and does it have benefits? Read on for these answers and more.

What is Pinene?

Pronounced “pie-neen,” the terpene pinene is abundant in forest trees like conifers, and especially in the needles of pines, as its name suggests. Trees tend to be the plants that contain the most terpenes in the natural world, and pinene is the earth’s most abundant terpene.

Pinene is a highly effective natural insect repellent. This terpene is also the main ingredient in wood turpentine.

Already in your foods, pinene makes many appearances in various herbs, spices, and fruits including:

  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Coriander
  • Thyme
  • Juniper
  • Oranges

Pinene, like many terpenes, was originally formulated as a plant’s natural defense mechanism against predators. In cannabis, terpenes are secreted through trichomes, adding rich flavors, aromas, and potential benefits to your favorite cultivars.

Terpene Flavor and Aroma Profile: Pinene

Pinene-dominant cultivars are rare, but can be popular. One such example of this is Big Smooth. This unique cultivar proves that rarer terpenes can be the star of the show when the primary terpenes in most cultivars are that of myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene.


Pinene gives cultivars a uniquely woody flavor with hints of sweetness and earthiness. Some of the most popular cultivars that contain relatively high levels of pinene include:

There are also differences between alpha and beta-pinene levels between cultivars. For example, Lemon Skunk and CBD Skunk Haze are dominant in alpha-pinene. Meanwhile, beta-pinene dominates in Purple Kush.

Does Pinene Get You High?

No, pinene does not get you high. However, pinene may play an interesting and conflicting role in the entourage effect.

Pinene comes in several varieties, but two major forms, alpha and beta, are of most cannabis research interest. Alpha and beta pinene act as a short-term memory booster, similar to drugs called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors we give to Alzheimer’s patients.

Even though they are nearly identical, new evidence suggests that beta pinene may also synergize with THC at the psychoactive CB1 receptor to increase its actions there. Being able to selectively choose these nuanced differences may help patients guide their terpene profile choice in cannabis products, where available.

This means that pinene may have a subtle impact on the consumer when combined with other compounds in whole-plant cannabis, like cannabinoids and other terpenes. As is the case with so many other aspects of cannabis, more research is needed to determine this, and how each consumer responds differently to each.

Potential Benefits of Pinene

As is the case with many terpenes, there are a few potential benefits of pinene. Most remarkably, is its ability to increase short-term memory and even lessen the short-term memory problems caused by THC intoxication. Pinene is a natural bronchodilator as well as an effective antiseptic, even against MRSA.

Studies also suggest that pinene can be used to alleviate inflammation, and this versatile terpene may be useful and effective as a pain reliever. Preliminary research also suggests that pinene may have therapeutic benefits for those who suffer from symptoms of anxiety.

Based on similar early research, other potential use cases for pinene include:

  • Anti-Alzheimer’s agent
  • Antioxidant
  • Antidepressant
  • Sleep-inducing
  • Anticancer and chemosynergy effects
  • Neuroprotective
  • Wound healing
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antidiabetic
  • Hypolipidemic
  • Gastroprotective
  • Kidney stones

What We Learned: Pinene

As we continue to see cannabis research progress forward, we could see the known benefits of terpenes like pinene increase. Here’s what we learned about the terpene pinene:

  • Pinene has the most woody aroma and flavor of all the terpenes
  • Pinene is the main ingredient in wood turpentine
  • The world’s most abundant terpene, pinene, is a natural insect repellent
  • Pinene is found in orange peels, basil, parsley, and dill
  • Some of the most popular cultivars that contain relatively high levels of pinene include Jack Herer, Remedy, God’s Gift, Cannatonic, Harlequin, Kosher Tangie, and Blue Dream
  • Studies show pinene is a short-term memory booster, countering THC fog, pain-reliever, natural bronchodilator, an effective antiseptic, and may act as an anti-inflammatory

The future is bright for the wonderful world of terpenes, and only time will tell how much more we can learn about these valuable natural compounds.

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Chapter Question

Does pinene get you high?

Was this chapter helpful?

The most abundant terpene in our natural world, pinene is found in abundance in conifer trees, green herbs, and is also the main ingredient in wood turpentine. Most notably, pinene may help increase short-term memory and counteract the deficits caused by THC intoxication.

Dr. Abraham Benavides
Medically reviewed by

Dr. Abraham Benavides

Dr. Abraham Benavides is an internationally-recognized cannabis research expert, experienced medical advisor, and full-tuition merit scholar of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Abe enjoys helping patients as a writer, educator, and cannabis health coach at the GW Center for Integrative Medicine.




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