Terpenes, like α-pinene are fragrant oils secreted by cannabis trichomes (stalk-like glands) as a defense mechanism, primarily against insects. As its name implies, α-pinene has a strong scent of pine and can be found in high concentrations in conifer trees. However, α-pinene can also be found in plants such as: parsley, rosemary, mint, and sage. Furthermore, terpenes like α-pinene have been found to provide possible medicinal benefits to humans.
A 2012 animal model study of acute pancreatitis showed anti-inflammatory effects related to α-pinene. Another study in 2014 showed that α-pinene had both anti-inflammatory effects and was protective towards human cartilage cells (chondrocytes). The researchers concluded α-pinene may have value in the treatment of arthritis.
A study published in 2010 demonstrated α-pinene can significantly inhibit the growth of microbes including some bacteria and yeast. In 2011, α-pinene’s activity against an infectious bronchitis virus was tested. Researchers concluded α-pinene may possess anti-viral properties against this pathogen.
Effects on human lungs
Alpha-pinene was studied in 2011 for its effects on the human respiratory system through inhalation. Researchers found low concentrations of inhaled α-pinene resulted in an airway-dilating effect. This suggests it may have a beneficial effect for people with asthma.
Possibly the most compelling evidence for the health benefits of α-pinene was found in a study published in 2000. Researchers noted inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activity in humans resulting in improved memory. This characteristic may improve short-term memory deficits caused by intoxicating doses of THC.
Alpha-pinene is what gives an evergreen tree its distinctive, fresh scent. Generally regarded simply as a pleasant aroma, scientific studies over the past few decades have also found promising health benefits of this commonly occurring terpene.
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