ALPHA-PINENE

Alpha pinene terpene molecule

WHAT IS ALPHA-PINENE?

Alpha-pinene, known as 4,6,6-trimethylbicyclo(3.1.1)hept-3-ene, is one of the numerous terpenes found in the cannabis sativa plant popularly known as marijuana. Alpha-pinene has a physical attribute similar to water, being colorless, with a turpentine odor. Its density is less than that of water, making it insoluble in water. Its vapor is heavier than that of air. Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes exist in all green plants but more importantly, they perform almost opposite actions to those of the cannabinoids

Terpenes were discovered years ago, and the term was coined by German chemist August Kekule. Naturally, alpha-pinene is a compound that was expected to be present in the cannabis sativa plant. The research surrounding this compound in the plant is to know how exactly how cannabinoids affect its functions.

Belonging to the class of terpenes called bicyclic monoterpenoids, alpha-pinene is a naturally formed terpenoid. Alpha-pinene is situated in the cytoplasm and membrane of the cannabis plant. It can be converted into alpha-pinene oxide. It is a sweet and earthy-tasting component that is present in the majority of food items. Similar to compounds like camphor, bromocyclohexane, and 2-pinanol, alpha-pinene has a property complexity value of 186. 

The composition and properties of alpha-pinene make it a potential biomarker for the digestion of food products. It is said to be the cause of the minty smell and aroma that the cannabis plant gives off.  Alpha-pinene has been linked to handling to the natural metabolic deficiencies in man, including celiac disease. The future of this compound, linked to CBD, is very promising. The compound is currently being studied with respect to ailments like cancer, liver conditions, among others.

HOW DOES ALPHA-PINENE WORK?

The functions of alpha-pinene are unlimited. When isolated, extracted, and concentrated, it can deliver important health benefits. Some of the effects linked to the presence of alpha-pinene include improved alertness, a counteraction to the effects of THC, and improved memory. It accounts for cannabis’ familiar odor, often associated with pine trees and turpentine. Alpha-pinene is the most common naturally occurring terpenoid and acts as both an anti-inflammatory and a bronchodilator.

POSSIBLE THERAPEUTIC BENEFITS

Alpha-pinene is said to have medicinal benefits such as being an anti-inflammatory compound. As a stimulant, it is unlike psychoactive cannabinoids such as THC that intoxicate. Rather, alpha-pinene helps to keep one awake. Its other benefits include being an antibiotic, antineoplastic, ache inhibitor, and lots more. The compound, sometimes like water, can be used as solvent for other chemicals. Several potentials of this compound are currently being maximized by scientists and researchers. Its functions are also being researched with respect to physiological effects, aromatherapy, anti-aging drugs, painkillers, and stress relievers. 

INTERESTING FACTS

  1. Its chemical formula is C10H16
  2. It has a mass of 136.23 g/mol.
  3. Its IUPAC name is 4,6,6-trimethylbicyclo(3.1.1)hept-3-ene.
  4. It accounts for the minty odor of the cannabis plant. 

REFERENCES

PubChem [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; 2004-. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 6654, alpha-Pinene; 

Kang, E., Lee, D.H., Jung, Y.J. et al. α-Pinene inhibits tumor invasion through downregulation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB-regulated matrix metalloproteinase-9 gene expression in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells. Appl Biol Chem 59, 511–516 (2016). 

Miller, D.R. Ethanol and (−)-α-Pinene: Attractant Kairomones for Some Large Wood-Boring Beetles in Southeastern USA. J Chem Ecol32, 779–794 (2006). 

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