There are two forms of pinene: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. Alpha-pinene is also the most abundant terpenoid found in nature.

It is useful as an insect repellent because insects dislike its aroma.

Many plant essential oils that contain pinene have been shown to reduce inflammation. Alpha-pinene exhibits a number of anti-inflammatory properties in animal cells. One American study concluded that the terpene is “a potential candidate as a new drug to treat various inflammatory diseases. Interestingly, terpene could also be an effective additive to sunscreen, because it prevents skin damage caused by ultraviolet light.

Many studies in animals have concluded that both alpha- and beta-pinene have significant anti-tumor properties. In fact, when consumed together, both forms of pinene appear to have synergistic effects in reducing tumors.

Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene have also been studied for their antimicrobial effects.

Beta – pinene appears to improve mood, acting much like an antidepressant might, without undesirable side effects. It also reduces anxiety.

One study published in a Swiss journal tested the ability of alpha- and beta-pinene to fight the infectious bronchitis virus. The study found that both types of pinene inhibited viral activity in cells, therefore making the terpene a potential aid for those with bronchitis. The study also established pinene as a bronchodilator that could offer relief to those with asthma. People who suffer from COPD or emphysema benefit from inhaling balsam, pine or cedar oil, although the effects are short lived and so it is necessary to use these substances on a regular basis. I use them daily during the winter months.

In an attempt to understand Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have investigated alpha-pinene’s role in fighting this incurable neurological disorder. Some scientists have concluded that alpha – pinene may also be beneficial when dealing with dementia, cognitive dysfunction and memory loss.

Bacterial pathogens have a great ability to acquire resistance against antibiotics; and gastroenteritis is a disease caused by a multidrug –resistant bacteria. Alpha pinene has been used to mitigate the effects of the bacteria.

Although it is clear that these terpenes have antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic properties and several in vivo, and more recently, a few clinical studies have assessed the pinenes biological effects, further efforts are needed to deepen knowledge in this field. As far as I was able to determine western science has barely scratched the surface of the benefits of these phytochemicals. Instead we rely on expensive drugs that have undesirable side effects.

Until I lived in the desert I took evergreens somewhat for granted because I have lived with these trees all my life, but it was only a few months after moving to NM before I began to miss the diversity. Fortunately, the Pedernal was only an hour’s drive from the casita so except during mid –winter I always had a place to go where I could once again bathe my body in a scent I both craved and loved.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: