terpinolene molecules with bubbles in orange color

Terpene Tuesday: Terpinolene

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means – time to take a deep dive into one of our favorite aromatic molecules! This week we’ll be taking a look at a terpene that usually isn’t in the spotlight.  

Terpinolene is somewhat elusive and isn’t often found in cannabis, and when it is, rarely is terpinolene the star of the show. 

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are oils secreted by plants that have distinctive smells. In the wild, they work to attract pollinators as well as ward off potential predators. 

Terpenes in weed and hemp contribute to the plant’s signature funky scent and work with cannabinoids to contribute to the overall therapeutic benefit. Check out our very first Terpene Tuesday post to see a list of hemp terpenes, and learn more about the amazing medicinal benefits they possess.

What is Terpinolene?

Terpinolene is what’s known as a monoterpene, which is a class of terpenes consisting of two isoprene units. While terpinolene often appears in a few strains of cannabis, it’s usually in smaller quantities and not nearly as ubiquitous as other organic terpenes in the plant. 

What Does Terpinolene Smell Like?

Unlike other cannabis-derived terpenes like pinene with its distinctive pine scent, or limonene with its recognizable citrus scent, terpinolene lacks a single identifying aroma. The subtle smell can be described as a sort of blend of familiar cannabis odors. There are definite herbal notes with slightly musky undertones and even hints of citrus. 

Where is Terpinolene Found? 

Obviously, terpinolene is found in marijuana and hemp, but what else contains this terpene? 

Many of the household foods and spices you have lying around contain significant amounts of terpinolene. Apples, for one, have detectable terpinolene levels as well as sage, cumin, and rosemary.

Outside the kitchen, your flower garden may also be a suitable spot to search for terpenes since it can be found in sweet-smelling lilacs. 

Because of terpinolene's’ complex fragrance, it often shows up in liquid terpene blends added to essential oils and other scented products like soaps or perfumes. 

Benefits of Terpinolene

We’re just now beginning to discover the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of terpenes, but current research looks incredibly promising. Some studies suggest that terpenes may be able to help treat pain in the future, and others suggest that using terpenes for anxiety may be helpful.

Terpinolene specifically has some documented benefits. 

For one, monoterpenes like terpinolene are known for being antioxidants, which means they can assist in defending against cellular damage caused by free radicals. Scientists are currently researching if these antioxidant properties could be used with other nutrients to help prevent heart disease and the buildup of cancer cells. 

Like other types of terpenes, terpinolene exhibits antibacterial characteristics which may help prevent harmful bacteria like E Coli from running rampant. 

Another interesting use of terpinolene could be pest control. This study from 2009 finds that terpinolene can help to ward off weevils and mosquitos. 

Strains With Terpinolene 

One of the best ways to access terpinolene is through the cannabis plant. Check out these strains with terpene profiles that include notable amounts of terpinolene. 

  • Jack Herer: named for the legendary activist, this inspiring sativa leaning hybrid carries Jack’s spirit with it in every nug. 
  • Dutch Treat: as the name would suggest, these dense, sticky nugs originate from the iconic cannabis city of Amsterdam. Dutch Treat is a relaxing hybrid with a woody sweet taste.
  • XJ-13: this stimulating sativa gets its terpinolene from the Jack Herer its crossed with. Known for producing strong cerebral sensations, XJ-13 is popular among artists and other creative types.