You shouldn’t need an entire article to explain where this terpene gets its name (hint: peep the name and think of Christmas). But chances are you’ve got no clue about alpha-pinene’s health benefits or the ways you can use this terp in your products.
No worries! Abstrax is here again to educate you on this popular terpene so you can incorporate it into your personal formulations or your brand blends. By the end, you’ll be ready to start formulating.
You don’t want to miss out on these therapeutic benefits for yourself or your customers. Let’s check it out.
What is Alpha Pinene?
Alpha-pinene belongs to a broad family of chemical compounds called terpenes. You find terpenes naturally around the world in plants, as they give plants their distinctive aromas.
Alpha-pinene is a monoterpene, meaning it contains just one terpene chemical building block. It also contains a four-membered ring in its chemical structure.
Alpha-pinene is one of two types of pinene. Beta-pinene, a separate compound with a chemical composition that mirrors alpha-pinene, also occurs in nature. The chemical formula of beta-pinene contains the same individual chemical atoms, but its structure is an exact reflection of alpha-pinene. If you dig the science: identical mirror image structures like alpha-pinene and beta-pinene are enantiomers.
Alpha-pinene occurs in the essential oils derived from plants like rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), eucalyptus, and orange peel. But it’s most common in conifer trees like pine trees. No surprises here when you look at the name of this terp. It’s also unsurprising pure alpha-pinene is clear, colorless, and smells of pine trees.
We know your brain is exploding with ideas for using a pure pine scent in your products. Here are some of our favorites.
How Can Your Brand Use Alpha Pinene Terpenes?
Brands often use alpha-pinene commercially as a flavoring agent and in oil diffusers to mimic the smells of pine tree forests. The flavor profile of alpha-pinene is sharp with hints of cedarwood and pine.
Scientists believe terpenes help create a better experience through a phenomenon called the entourage effect. The entourage effect describes how a combination of two chemical compounds may act together to produce a stronger effect than either compound alone.
Terpenes like alpha-pinene may combine with different compounds to produce stronger Sativa strains and other strains as well. In addition, studies suggest this terp acts as a bronchodilator in humans.
Breathing easier is pretty useful, no? But what else might this terpene do for you and your loyal customers?
Health Benefits of Alpha-Pinene
Healers have used a-pinene for centuries. They’d scrape bark from coniferous trees, make a resin, and use this to treat people with congestion or parasitic infections. The Dutch would also use alpha pinene-containing juniper berries to make healing tonics.
Judging from the research, a small amount of alpha-pinene goes a long way:
Studies suggest low-exposure levels of alpha-pinene possess anti-inflammatory properties, antimicrobial properties, antiulcerogenic and gastroprotective properties, and the ability to aid memory (2).
Let’s dive into each one.
Alpha-Pinene Anti-inflammatory Activity
Unleash the cooling effects of alpha-pinene to cool and soothe inflamed tissues.
In one study, using alpha-pinene decreased activation of mouse immune cells called macrophages that add to inflammation in body tissue (3).
Dealing with aching and inflamed joints? Alpha-pinene also seems to act on chondrocytes - the cells that maintain the matrix inside cartilage - to reduce inflammation (4). This research indicates a-pinene may help fight arthritis - related inflammation within the cartilage of joints.
Alpha-Pinene Antimicrobial Properties
With the recent rise in antimicrobial resistance, it's important to develop alternative compounds to antibiotics capable of killing harmful bacteria. Alpha-pinene shows promise as an organic warrior capable of answering the call.
Alpha-Pinene Anti-Ulcerogenic and Gastroprotective Properties
Pure alpha-pinene reduced gastric ulcers in mice (8). This type of gastroprotective effect may also appear in humans when we consume alpha-pinene at low exposure levels.
Alpha-Pinene as a Memory Aid
We’ll let entourage effect expert Dr. Ethan B. Russo drop some knowledge for this therapeutic benefit:
Alpha-pinene is active as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it reduces acetylcholinesterase activity to boost your memory. Many drugs used to treat dementia are cholinesterase inhibitors. This feature could counteract short-term memory deficits induced by compound-related intoxication. (1)
The Perry study seems to suggest a-pinene's role with other terpenes (including Camphor, Geraniol, Beta-pinene, Limonene, Linalool, and terpineol) in the entourage effect may be the reason for its ability to protect short-term memory.
Potential Side Effects of Alpha-Pinene
While small amounts of alpha-pinene may result in health benefits, large amounts of alpha-pinene can be harmful (9). But large amounts of anything-even good ol’ H₂O-can pose a threat to our health, so dosage is key.
The FDA has approved commercial alpha pinene use in low-exposure levels in the cosmetic and flavor profile industries (10), so you won’t have to worry about providing healthy, safe products for your fans. Just follow our dosing directions and seek the advice of a healthcare provider if you are unsure about whether your alpha-pinene exposure levels are appropriate.
While alpha-pinene is most commonly used as a food additive and aromatic compound, people have used it since ancient times to promote healing and make use of its medicinal benefits. The anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-ulcerative, and memory-aiding effects of alpha-pinene make it a prime candidate for future research into health benefits.
Cheers to better health and better highs, packed with smells of luscious pines.