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Why you should know about Terpinolene and its benefits

Terpinolene, THC and the entourage effect 

Terpinolene, a terpene dominant in about one in ten cannabis strains, is recognized for its woody smell combined with floral, citrus notes. In addition to its fresh aroma, terpinolene is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties (Turkez, Aydin, Cetin,2014). 

In the past, most information about cannabis focused on the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. Now we know terpenes contribute more than aroma and flavor and can significantly impact patients’ treatment outcomes when it comes to medical marijuana. 

In 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo, a pioneer in Cannabis Therapeutics, introduced what we now recognize as "the entourage effect," and the importance of terpenes as the "drivers" of the outcomes cannabis has to offer (Russo, 2011). In this article, we'll dive into terpinolene. You’ll find information on the effects, benefits, and compelling results that can occur when terpinolene is paired with other terpenes like beta-caryophyllene, pinene, and humulene. Let’s get you up to speed on this impressive compound.

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What is Terpinolene? 

Terpinolene, also known as alpha-terpinolene or TPO in the research literature, is a primary terpene naturally present in lilac, sage, rosemary, nutmeg, cumin, apple conifer trees, and tea trees. It’s considered lightly to moderately sedative. Alpha-terpinolene is most often found in Sativa strains, primarily those with higher THC content. 

Terpinolene produces a herbal or floral fragrance reminiscent of pine needles. It is used in cosmetics, soap, insect repellent (like limonene), and other household items. This terpene is known for its antioxidant properties and can be a potential anticancer agent in the body. 

Traditional terpinolene uses include natural antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial applications, and mild central nervous system depressant, exhibiting sedative effects, mainly when combined with Linalool.  

In proper dosages, terpinolene-rich essential oils may ease distress from restless leg syndrome, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety, and even panic attacks. 

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Terpinolene aroma: complex and compelling 

Ask a cannabist, “What does alpha-terpinolene smell like?” and you’ll get a multifaceted response. Terpinolene is more multidimensional than other cannabis terpenes. It pairs an herbal scent with hints of citrus and the pine-like floral notes of pinene. It stands out for its fresh fragrance, making it ideal for perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetic products. The food industry often uses terpinolene to deepen the flavor profile of some of your favorite foods. Proving that even when its medicinal powers aren’t being harnessed, terpinolene is an excellent companion when paired with vitamins and other compounds. 

Terpinolene and the entourage effect

To put it casually, Terpinolene plays well with other cannabinoids. When it’s present with other compounds, it can enhance or produce a wide variety of desirable effects, including:

Terpinolene + THC create a lively and energetic effect, driving creativity and excitement

Terpinolene + CBD can provide a calming and relaxing experience, reducing stress and anxiety

Terpinolene + CBG, or cannabigerol, can help improve focus and mental clarity, boosting concentration and alertness

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What are Terpenes

Terpinolene-rich cannabis cultivars:

Terpinolene is commonly present in Sativa dominant strains like Jack Herer. Other cultivars with significant quantities of terpinolene include: 

  • Jack Herer 
  • Sunshine Haze
  • Durban Poison 
  • Slimer OG 
  • Clementine 
  • Orange Cookies 
  • Super Lemon Haze 

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Terpinolene Benefits

Let’s dive into some of the properties that make terpinolene a compelling therapeutic option for a variety of ailments.


Terpinolene has been studied for its antifungal effects on conditions like toenail fungus and ringworm. 


Terpinolene is a potent antioxidant. A 2015 study showed that low doses have antioxidant properties without harming lymphocytes (Turkez, Aydın, Geyikoglu, & Cetin, 2015). 

Another study showed that it prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Therefore, terpinolene might have heart health benefits (Grassmann,2005). 


A 2013 study showed sedative effects after nasal absorption into the body (Shimoadachi-cho, 2013). Terpinolene is known for its sedative properties and is ideal for use to treat anxiety and insomnia. It can also be mixed with lavender and lilac to treat sleep disorders. 


A 2013 study found that terpinolene may be a strong antiproliferative agent for brain tumor cells. These results indicate that terpinolene may provide defenses against inflammation and oxidative damage, both associated with cancer. 

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The future of terpinolene

As noted above, terpinolene’s predominant fresh and pleasant fragrance, in tandem with its antimicrobial properties, makes terpinolene an ideal ingredient for cosmetic products like perfumes, lotions, and soaps. In plants, terpenes are a natural defense against pests and are commonly used in insect repellents. 

In addition, research indicates that terpinolene may present anticancer, cardiovascular benefits, and anti-anxiety actions. These findings are undoubtedly deserving of additional clinical studies. Further investigation is needed to understand terpinolene as a treatment for mental health, cancer care, and heart disease to come to any conclusions. 

**Note: As always, with medical conditions and symptoms, please consult with your doctor 

 for personalized medical advice. The statements made regarding these products have not 

 been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not 

 been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, 

 treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

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How does terpinolene make you feel?

With its floral, woody aroma, terpinolene-infused cannabis strains are great for a variety of activities and treatments. Whether you want to unwind and destress, or you’re looking for clarity to focus on something creative, you can find a strain that suits your needs. Consumers who enjoy terpinolene-rich strains report feeling:

  • Calm and relaxed
  • Euphoric or happy
  • Less anxious or stressed
  • More focused and alert in some cases
  • More creative and inspired

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Produced in partnership with MMJ Knowledge.

M;, H. (n.d.). Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of essential oil of Heracleum rechingeri Manden from Iran. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from 

Russo, E. (2011, August). Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from 

Turkez, H., Aydın, E., Geyikoglu, F., & Cetin, D. (2015, May). Genotoxic and oxidative damage potentials in human lymphocytes after exposure to terpinolene in vitro. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from 

EF;, G. (n.d.). The monoterpene terpinolene from the oil of Pinus mugo L. in concert with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene effectively prevents oxidation of LDL. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from 

Department of Pharmacognosy, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Science, Kyoto University, 46-29 Yoshida-Shimoadachi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan.PMC, E. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2020, from 

The Monoterpene Terpinolene From the Oil of Pinus Mugo L. In Concert With Alpha-Tocopherol and Beta-Carotene Effectively Prevents Oxidation of LDL - PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.g 

Terpinolene, a Component of Herbal Sage, Downregulates AKT1 Expression in K562 Cells - PubMed