Lilac, Tea Tree, Nutmeg, Cumin
Piney, Woody, Herbaceous, Citrusy
This is the 16th installment in our weekly series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes,” published every Monday. For more information, read the introduction to this series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes: A Guide For Medical Marijuana Patients.”
Terpinolene is a cannabis terpene that displays a piney or woody aroma with hints of herbal spice and citrus. Typically found in sativa strains such as Jack Herer, Afghani, Pineapple Kush, the OG Group, Chocolope, Acapulco Gold, Super Lemon Haze, Chernobyl, Dutch Treat, and Durban Poison, terpinolene offers a mildly sedative effect and can reduce anxiety. This may afford a more balancing experience with some of the more energetic properties many sativas display. Although not as common as other terpenes such as myrcene, which also acts as a sedative, terpinolene plays a key role in regulating health through the endocannabinoid system.
As opposed to other terpenes found in cannabis, terpinolene doesn’t offer analgesic or anti-inflammatory properties. However, this terpene is studied for its antifungal and antibacterial benefits, and also for its mild sedative effects. Terpinolene is frequently used in cannabis oils due to its lemon-pine flavor and numerous potential medicinal benefits.
Several studies have explored the antimicrobial effects of terpinolene, discoveries that could lead to it being used to combat certain nefarious forms of bacteria. A 2005 paper documents a study that investigated the essential oil composition and antimicrobial activity of Diplotaenia damavandica, a plant species native to the country of Iran. The essential oil of the species was found to contain terpinolene at levels of 20%.
Researchers extracted the essential oil from the leaves, roots, and seeds from the plant and tested them against various microorganisms. The findings showed that all three of these oils displayed antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Escherichia coli. The essential oil extracted from the leaves was most effective.
The authors of the study stated that terpinolene has been found to possess good antifungal activity, as well as antibacterial action against Propionibacterium, which causes acne.
Terpinolene has also displayed antioxidant properties. A 2013 paper discusses the antioxidant and anticancer properties of terpinolene in rat brain cells. The terpene was shown to have potent antiproliferative effects on brain tumor cells, as well as safe and pronounced antioxidant action. The antioxidant effects of terpinolene were studied in May 2015 with promising findings.
Research, including this January 2013 study, also mentions the sedative properties of terpinolene, making it a candidate for a natural remedy against insomnia. Its mild yet effective depressant action on the central nervous system could also be applied to the reduction of psychological excitement and anxiety.
Like most terpenes, terpinolene isn’t unique to cannabis. It also shows up in lilacs, tea tree, nutmeg, cumin, and apples. Terpinolene is used industrially for its potent scents, specifically, to “flavor” soaps, perfumes, and body care products. It can also be used as an insect repellent, which is one of the roles it inherently plays in the cannabis plant as a secondary metabolite.
Understanding individual terpene characteristics can play a key factor in selecting the ideal strain. Whether inhaled or used aromatically or topically, terpinolene can be a key component in the broad spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids that maximize the therapeutic effects cannabis may provide. Feel free to email us to assist with any questions you may have.