Pinene and Limonene are the Terpenes we Love the Most

Francis Cassidy December 18, 2018 0 comments

Among the two-hundred known terpenes, the fragrant combination of pinene and limonene are two of the most common.

So what are terpenes like pinene and limolene? Renowned for their potent medicinal benefit, terpenes hold the key to unlocking the therapeutic properties of cannabis. Found across the plant kingdom and in the trichomes of cannabis flower, these naturally occurring hydrocarbons with their complex molecular formulas are a remarkable creation.

Easily recognizable from their wide-ranging scents, they serve an essential function, not only in cannabis but also in nature. For plants, they serve an important evolutionary purpose by attracting pollinators and warding of potentially harmful insects. While for us humans, the effects can be very therapeutic when ingested.

What do Patients Need?

When patients consume cannabis flower or a full-spectrum extract, they obtain not only the potent cannabinoids like THC and CBD, but also the terpenes and the myriad of other minor cannabinoids. It’s within these underlying synergies that play out among these natural plant compounds where much of the medicinal benefit lies.

In Taming THC, a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (2011), [1]Russo E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. … Continue reading cannabis researchers detailed the true power of terpenes. It turns out that the interdependence between many different terpenes and cannabinoids is responsible in large part for many of the medicinal effects of cannabis. The synergies that play out between the plant compounds do so via what’s called the Entourage Effect. This effect encapsulates the potent synergies that occur when terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds like flavonoids all interact to deliver maximal medicinal value.

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Two of the most common and potent terpenes within the cannabis plant that help deliver this effect are pinene and limonene.

pinene and limonene


After myrcene, limonene is the second most abundant terpene in modern cannabis chemovars. In addition to cannabis, this volatile monoterpene is common across much of the plant kingdom and is particularly prevalent in mint, juniper, and rosemary. And due to its natural fruity citrus aroma, it’s also commonly added to many household items such as cleaning products and cosmetics.

Despite its name, limonene doesn’t always smell like lemon, and in many cases, produces a tangerine-like scent. When smoked or vaporized in properly cured flower, it often aids in creating a subtle fresh flavor that’s pleasing.

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On the medicinal side, limonene boasts some potent benefits. Unlike cannabis compounds like THC, limonene lacks any psychoactive properties, something that traditionally acted as an impediment to scientific study. As a result, there’s some solid science behind the benefits of this monoterpene.

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What do the Studies Say About Limonene?

Several studies demonstrate its antidepressant, anxiolytic, immunostimulant, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. A study published in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology (1998) [2]Vigushin, David & Poon, Grace & Boddy, Alan & English, Jacqueline & Halbert, Gavin & Pagonis, Christos & Jarman, Michael & Coombes, R. & Committee, Cancer. (1998). … Continue reading studied the use of limonene in patients with advanced cancer. Researchers found limonene to be well tolerated and free of toxicity. And when applied at high doses, it produced apoptosis of breast cancer cells.

According to researchers in the Taming THC study, limonene is a high bioavailability. With seventy percent pulmonary uptake, its bioavailability is well above that of many other terpenes. Researchers also noted it to be effective in treating gastro-oesophageal reflux and also remarked on its mood benefits when coupled with pinene and linalool.

Also discussed in the study is its ability to promote skin health. According to researchers, limonene proved effective against dermatophytes, and also inhibited Propionibacterium acnes, the key pathogen in acne.

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Chemovars Rich in Limonene

Chemovars that are high in limonene include Banana OG. With its strong citrus scent, this one is also abundant in THC and caryophyllene and is often effective in treating muscular pain and insomnia.

While its name may not suggest it, Black Cherry Soda is a widely-respected chemovar that’s packed with limonene. It’s known for introducing a relaxed, sedated vibe that medicinal patients have come to love.

The chemovar Berry White offers up the best of limonene. Known for its ability to lift mood while lowering stress and anxiety, this one has long since been a firm favorite of the masses.


As its name suggests, pinene smells just like pine trees. It’s one of the most researched terpenes to date and offers a host of medicinal properties. Many cultures already appreciate the benefits of pinene, and it’s central to the therapeutic benefits in the Japanese practice of forest bathing.

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On the medicinal front, the Taming THC study discussed many of the therapeutic benefits of pinene. Aside from its anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator properties, researchers also noted that pinene was a “major component of Sideritis erythrantha EO that was effective against MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.”

But perhaps one of the most notable properties is its action as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This means it improves memory by preventing the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. In some individuals, THC intoxication results in poor short-term memory, but chemovars high in pinene may help patients effectively mitigate this unwanted side effect.

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Chemovars Rich in Pinene

Pinene is rarely the most abundant terpene in cannabis, but many chemovars still contain significant amounts.

Blue Dream is one of the best-loved chemovars by medicinal patients. It’s rich in pinene, and this high THC, low CBD variety produces a calm euphoria without the sedative quality. Many patients find this one ideal for some daytime focus.

In addition to high CBD levels approaching ten percent, Cannatonic is also high in pinene. The CBD-pinene mix produces a relaxing calm with a notable bump in mood. It’s a longtime favorite of medical patients for its ability to treat pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, and migraines.

With high pinene content in a delicious terpene profile, Big Smooth exhibits supreme flavor and an ability to lift mood and modulate a relaxed, happy vibe.

The Healing Potential of Terpenes

Terpenes may well hold the key to unlocking the true medicinal power of the cannabis plant. While pinene and limonene are two such terpenes, the cannabis plant contains over two hundred of these miracles of nature.

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Francis Cassidy
Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog