Have you ever smelled the pungent scent of fresh cannabis? The plant’s scent might be earthy with hints of pine. Or, perhaps it’s citrusy with bright, lemony notes. Whatever the aroma, cannabis plants get their smell from terpenes.
One of the most common terpenes found in cannabis plants is terpinolene. [1,2] Terpinolene confers a sweet and piney aroma with a somewhat citrusy taste.
According to popular sources, cannabis cultivars with terpinolene include Jack Herer, Pineapple Kush, Durban Poison, Super Lemon Haze, and Golden Goat.
What is Terpinolene?
Terpinolene belongs to the terpinene family, a group of terpenes with a shared molecular formula and weight. The only difference between compounds in this family is the placement of double carbon bonds (see image).
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
In addition to cannabis plants, you can find terpinolene in rosemary, nutmeg, sage, marjoram, lemon, lime, citronella, lilac, juniper trees, tea trees, and pine trees. It’s a common ingredient in household supplies like soap and insect repellent. Across industries, you may see terpinolene denoted in various ways. Examples include “𝛿-terpinene” and “p-Meth-1-en-8-yl-formate.” It is often produced for industrial purposes by converting α-pinene.
What are Terpinolene’s Medical Benefits?
Scientists and medical researchers are interested in terpinolene because of its medicinal properties. Numerous studies have examined the terpene with promising results. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines found that inhaled terpinolene had a sedative effect on mice  while another study published the same year found that terpinolene “is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent” .
A 2019 study examined terpinolene’s wound-healing potential.  These researchers determined that terpinolene “may contribute to broadening clinical options in the treatment of wounds by attenuating inflammation and oxidative stress… ” 
1- Rocha ED, et al. Qualitative terpene profiling of Cannabisvarieties cultivated for medical purposes. Pharmacognosy. 2020;71. [Impact Factor: 1.074; Times Cited: 1 (Semantic Scholar)]
2- Russo EB, Marcu J. Cannabis pharmacology: The usual suspects and a few promising leads. In: Advances in Pharmacology. 2017:67–134.doi:10.1016/bs.apha.2017.03.004. [Times Cited: 93 (Semantic Scholar)]
3- Ito K, Ito M. The sedative effect of inhaled terpinolene in mice and its structure–activity relationships. Journal of Natural Medicines. 2013;67(4):833–837. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11418-012-0732-1. [Impact Factor: 2.343; Times Cited: 26 (Semantic Scholar)]
4- Aydin E, Türkez H, Taşdemir S. Anticancer and antioxidant properties of terpinolene in rat brain cells. Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology. 2013;64(3). doi:10.2478/10004-1254-64-2013-2365. [Impact Factor: 1.948; Times Cited: 39 (Semantic Scholar)]
5- de Christo Scherer MM, et al. Wound healing activity of terpinolene and α-phellandrene by attenuating inflammation and oxidative stress in vitro. Journal of Tissue Viability. 2019;28(2):94–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtv.2019.02.003. [Impact Factor: 2.932; Times Cited: 14 (Semantic Scholar)]