Terpene Profiles: Terpinolene, a Potent and Rare Essential Oil

If you visit our cannabis blog with any frequency, you know that we expend a lot of effort examining terpenes, the fragrant hydrocarbons—in other words “essential oils”—that give different strains of cannabis their distinctive and characteristic flavors and aromas.

It’s part of what we like to think of as a fresh new approach to cannabis, one that takes the whole plant into account, not just the name of its strain or even its cannabinoid content.

But why terpenes? It turns out they have a lot to do with the effects any particular strain has on our bodies and our minds. They contribute aromas, flavors, and a whole lot more, ranging from the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of bisabolol to the analgesic properties of caryophyllene and beyond.

Terpenes flowers and vials

Terpenes occur everywhere in the natural world, giving many plants their distinctive characteristics. But today we’ll focus in on a single terpene—terpinolene—and the qualities it gives our favorite all-natural product: The cannabis plant!

What Does Terpinolene Smell and Taste Like?

Terpinolene sounds an awful lot like another terpene, terpineol. But while that terpene occurs in abundance in the cannabis (and many other) plants, terpinolene may be the most elusive terpene of all. Though it’s found in many strains of cannabis—we’ll share a few in a moment—it typically only appears in very small quantities. Still, when it does show up, it adds a lot.

Terpinolene is often described as having a complex, citrusy, floral and piney aroma, not too dissimilar from the superficially similar terpineol. But above all, terpinolene has an intriguingly “fresh” scent associated with it, one reason it’s often used as an additive in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumery. Elsewhere in the natural world, it appears in cumin, nutmeg, lilac flowers, and the tea tree.

What Does Terpinolene Do For Us?

Again, as with terpineol, the fact that Terpinolene occurs in tea tree is a hint to its antibacterial properties. Research published in 2015 examines the role the terpene—as well as other natural extracts and oils—can play in fighting some common (but dangerous) bacteria including Salmonella and E. coli.

Like several other terpenes, terpinolene may play a role in combating insectile pests. According to a 2009 study, the terpene may help drive away both mosquitoes and boll weevils.

Terpinolene oil and dropper

What’s more, terpinolene may even help safeguard our heart health. A 2005 study found that the compound might help us avoid coronary heart diseases.

How to Get Terpinolene from Cannabis

As we noted earlier, terpinolene typically occurs in very small amounts in cannabis strains. That said, its powerful aromatic and medicinal qualities help make them particularly unique. Some of the more popular terpinoline-rich strains include:

Dutch Treat: A notably head-clearing strain, announced by an earthy pine aroma. While it’s powerfully euphoric, this strain is popular for folks who want to keep on a generally uplifted, creative roll.

Sour Tsunami: This strain is notable for being one of the first to be bred specifically for high CBD over THC content. It’s effective for treating pain and inflammation without producing significant Psychoactivity. Its CBD levels can test as high as 10 - 11%, while THC is usually under 10%.

Shipwreck: Characterized as a sativa, this unusual strain gives users a mellow lift that syncs well with getting things done. It can also impart a strong body buzz, so watch out: Shipwreck can be sleep-inducing depending on dosage and your individual tolerance.

Terpinolene bud

Looking for some terpinolene-rich strains? Stop by our Oakland dispensary or check out our online dispensary menu!