What Is Terpinolene

What is Terpinolene? Terpinolene Effects, Benefits & Strains

What Is Terpinolene

Photo by Olia Danilevich

Science is continually discovering a whole new batch of health benefits from the countless compounds found in cannabis. There are more than 538 chemical compounds in cannabis that are also found throughout the plant kingdom, and more importantly, interact with the human body. Terpinolene is one of these marijuana marvels.

Besides your standard cannabinoids like THC and CBD, there are terpenes like terpinolene that give cannabis strains their unique scent and flavor profile. With cannabis strains, it’s almost as if they’re a biological blend of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs that all provide different benefits for the human body.

Thanks to increased medical marijuana legalization, there’s been more study of the health benefits of all of these compounds. With all of these different benefits there’s also something to be said for the entourage effect. Generally, that’s the understanding that the collective effect of these compounds is often more important and observable because so many of these compounds interact together leaving you with one unified experience: the entourage effect.

For example, limonene can boost the psychoactive euphoria of THC while the terpene pinene, found in black pepper, can help you stop being high. All of these compounds can increase certain body functions like hunger i.e. the munchies or decrease others like reducing inflammation. Ultimately, they provide one fundamental experience.

In this post, we’ll explore the various benefits of the terpene terpinolene.

  • What does terpinolene do?
  • What are the health benefits of terpinolene?
  • How can terpinolene help your health?

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What Is Terpinolene?

Terpinolene is a common cyclic monoterpene found in about one out of every ten cannabis strains. These terpinolene-dominant strains are said to be uplifting. Terpinolene has rather unique contributions to the entourage effect.

It has the unique ability to combine with cannabinoids to provide pretty diverse results. For example, it can amplify the euphoria of THC while also increasing the sedative qualities of CBD. Anecdotally, terpinolene strains tend to be considered more high-energy and might be considered sativa or sativa-dominant.

How Do You Pronounce Terpinolene?

Terpinolene can seem like a mouthful. It is easily pronounced tur-pin-uh-leen or tur-pin-o-leen. An easy way to remember it is that it sounds like turpentine. Terpinolene is one of the main active ingredients in turpentine.

What Is The Structure Of Terpinolene?

Terpinolene is classified as a monocyclic monoterpene with the chemical formula C10H16. That means it consists of a single six-carbon ring with three double bonds which makes it an unsaturated cyclic hydrocarbon.

Terpinolene Smell

Photo by Jane Doan

Terpinolene Smell

As far as the scents of terpenes go, many can be fairly straightforward. Linalool makes lavender smell like lavender, limonene gives lemons and limes their zesty citrus scent and pinene makes pine smell piney.

Terpinolene on the other hand has a few different notes including floral notes, terpinolene gives lilacs their distinct fragrance. It also has subtle notes of a woodsy cedarlike scent, with some of the fruity scent of apples, and is even said to include some citrus undertones.

In aromatherapy, terpinolene is found in essential oils like tea tree oil and patchouli. These extracts are valued for their fresh, floral aroma that is considered uplifting, energizing, and mood-boosting all thanks to terpinolene.

Strains High In Terpinolene

There are quite a few strains that have a high amount of terpinolene. Some heavy terpinolene strains include:

  • Lemon Jeffrey
  • Jack Herer
  • Chernobyl
  • Lamb’s Bread
  • Royal Jack Automatic
  • Ghost Train Haze
  • Lemon OG Kush
  • Lemon Haze
  • Super Lemon Haze
  • Sentinel
  • Pre-98 Bubba Kush
  • Ultra Sour
  • Blue Dream
  • Dutch Treat
  • Orange Goat
  • Orange Cookies
  • Golden Pineapple
  • J1
  • XJ-13
  • Jack Herer
  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • White Widow
  • Durban Poison
  • Golden Goat
  • Cherry Pie

Terpinolene Flavor

You may wonder exactly what does terpinolene taste like? The flavor of terpinolene can be as nuanced as its smell. The flavor of terpinolene is often described as subtle yet sweet with fruity, citrusy, and floral notes.

It is considered crisp with a slightly herbal quality reminiscent of wood, pine, or tea leaves with a lemony tang. Again there’s a fair amount of nuance to terpinolene, unlike other terpenes which have a more clear straightforward flavor.

Photo by Natalie Bond

What Common Foods Contain Terpinolene?

Some common foods and plant-based products that contain the terpene terpinolene include:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Blood Oranges
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsely
  • Oregano
  • Black Pepper
  • Sweet Basil Oil
  • Cumin

Some other common plant/plant products with higher terpinolene concentrations include:

  • Lilac
  • Tea Tree
  • Pine
  • Patchouli
  • Fir

What Does Terpinolene Do?

Terpinolene can combine well with cannabinoids and help amplify their effects. Terpinolene and THC create a lively and energetic effect increasing creativity, excitement, or euphoria. This is often why many terpinolene-heavy strains are considered Sativa/Sativa-dominant.

Terpinolene when combined with CBD can provide a calming and relaxing experience, reducing stress and anxiety because of its sedative qualities. Terpinolene when isolated has natural sedative qualities. It’s one of the main terpenes in tea tree oil and patchouli and has been found to aid in relaxation.

Terpinolene with CBG, or cannabigerol, can help boost focus and clarity and help improve concentration and alertness.

These unique abilities vary because terpinolene has a higher vaporization temperature, typically around 366°F (186°C). THC’s is 157°C, and CBD’s is 180°C. This means it can combine with these various cannabinoids at different temperatures and amplify their natural qualities. It may combine with THC or it may combine with CBD after THC has begun to degrade.

Again, this is what is so interesting about the entourage effect. The various breakdowns and interworkings of these compounds all provide a specific and unique experience that can vary not just from strain to strain but each individual cannabis experience.

The goal is for these compounds to vaporize and enter your lungs then enter your bloodstream, go to your liver to be metabolized then travel throughout your body. Depending on how you consume cannabis whether by smoking, vaping, or with dabs, may influence what specific breakdown of combined cannabinoids and terpenes and how they impact your experience.

Terpinolene Benefits

Again, more legalization and medical prescriptions of cannabis are leading to more advanced studies into the benefits of all of the compounds found within marijuana. More medical marijuana legalization does mean more testing. More testing provides more data for research and more encouragement to explore the vast potential. It’s more than just about the high these days instead it is the countless health benefits being discovered every day.

Remember, terpenes and cannabinoids all serve a natural evolutionary purpose in keeping plants alive. Similarly, some of these benefits are available to us as well. For example, terpinolene is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties. A study found it was antifungal activity against black mold. This is a way that what help keeps the cannabis plant alive can help people avoid getting sick when exposed to toxic mold or treat them if its found in their homes.

When studied for its potential toxicity, it was found that terpinolene was a promising antioxidant. We often hear the term “antioxidant” but may not know what it means, antioxidants help neutralize oxidative stress. Various free radicals found in foods, products, pollution, and radiation put our cells under stress which causes them to age or degrade.

Oxidative stress is the main cause of aging. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals by giving them the extra electron they’re trying to steal from our living cells. Terpinolene was found to help reduce the oxidation of vital LDLs in our blood which is invaluable in helping prevent heart disease. This combined with its natural antiinflammatory qualities was found to help with wound healing in vitro.

The benefits of reducing inflammation are it helps reduce your chances of developing diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s which are all exacerbated by chronic inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory effects have shown their ability to aid in cancer treatment.

Terpinolene can induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Apoptosis is the natural way cells die as part of your body’s natural homeostasis. By encouraging cancer cells to die terpinolene can help bring your body back to “normal” and reduce cancer cells from draining your energy to feed itself.

Terpinolene combines with CBD to help both reduce inflammation and provide sedative benefits which can be invaluable if you’re struggling with anxiety or chronic stress. Its natural sedative properties can also help people who use cannabis to help with more restful sleep or to treat insomnia.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The big cash benefit of the cannabis industry only means that, thankfully, more study is going into the practical applications and side benefits of cannabis consumption.

How to Use Terpinolene

Photo by Laryssa Suaid

How to Use Terpinolene

Like many terpenes, due to their scent and flavor, terpinolene is used as a food additive to help boost flavors. It can be used as a flavor booster in artificial essential oils, fruit flavors (including apple or citrus) ice cream, beverages, candies, and baked goods. Its sweet flavor is often used in natural and artificial flavoring.

It can be used as an antiseptic given its pain-reduction properties and various antibacterial and antifungal qualities.

It can also be used as a fragrance enhancer, after all, scents can subside but in our attempt to boost them many may have added terpenes or a synthetic version to give that distinct scent. It can be used to help amplify perfumes or in air fresheners or sometimes even to boost to scent profile of some foods.

Also, given its oil-solubility and chemical breakdown it can be used as a solvent for various resins and oils. It can also be used as a chemical intermediate as it’s both the byproduct and precursor of other popular biochemicals.

Final Thoughts

We are moving beyond just tracking the THC in cannabis and using weed to get high. There are hundreds of compounds in cannabis with vast biochemical potential. Terpinolene seems to be like a booster that helps aid cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBG in doing what they do best.

It also helps augment the flavor of your favorite strains with crisp, sweet, semi-herbaceous notes while also helping to provide numerous health benefits including relaxation, reduced inflammation, and even pain relief. Its antifungal properties don’t hurt either.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and begin a medical marijuana regimen, start by getting your medical marijuana card or recommendation quickly and easily with Green Health Docs.


Dr. Anand DugarThis article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.