Featured Terpene Terpinene

Featured Terpene: Terpinene

Terpenes are substances that most people don’t know about. However, these compounds have many benefits and applications in everyday life.

From medical to gastronomical, terpenes have been in use for thousands of years, but it’s only now that we’re seeing more of their potential. As more research happens and the industry grows, it’s only fitting that people learn more about terpenes and their uses.

There are hundreds of terpene compounds available, each with its own characteristic, and the key to maximizing their use is understanding them. Our featured terpene today is terpinene.

Continue reading about terpinene and how you can benefit from it.

Terpinene Profile

Terpinene, also known as alpha–terpinene, is a terpene compound known for its pine-like, woody, lemony, and citrusy aroma. They are a group of isomeric hydrocarbons classified as monoterpenes. This terpene’s essential oils come from plants like tea tree, peppermint, lime, cardamom, marjoram, eucalyptus, and verbena.

The scent of this compound led to its widespread use as a fragrance and flavor enhancer, in addition to its application as a food additive valued for its lemony taste.

Terpinene’s boiling point is at a high temperature of 173℃ or 343℉. It must be extracted appropriately to get this terpene’s full benefits.

Terpinene Effects and Health Benefits

1. Antioxidant

Most people today seek ways to detoxify their bodies through various efforts like juice cleanses. However, you don’t have to look far to see how you’ve used terpinene in your daily routine. 

Known for its antioxidant properties, Terpinene, or α-Terpineol, is a relatively abundant compound found in tea trees. Most people use this in the food, household, and cosmetics industries, using tea tree oil (TTO) to combat acne

Since terpinene has various counterparts that showed promise against cancer cells, researchers wanted to test its ability to do the same. The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) analysis showed that α-Terpineol presented good antioxidant activity, specifically against breast carcinoma and chronic myeloid leukemia.

2. Helps with skin repair

Scientists studied the wound-healing properties of TTO in diabetic rats. They found that the non-diabetic group treated with tea tree oil showed a significant increase in epithelization and inflammatory cell density compared to the diabetic group.

There have also been several studies that have suggested TTO’s effectiveness in treating acne vulgaris, seborrheic dermatitis, and chronic gingivitis—accelerating wound healing and displaying anti-skin cancer activity.

TTO, a common source of terpinene, is derived from the Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia through steam distillation. Terpinen-4-ol, a key component of TTO, has potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Because of its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoal infections, scientists found TTO to repair the skin and mucosa effectively.

3. Antiparasitic

Studies have shown that TTO may be an excellent alternative to insecticides. It’s natural, effective, and harmless.

Ectoparasites are tiny organisms that cause discomfort and pain upon infecting human skin—typically treated with insecticides. However, due to their repeated use, they’re slowly becoming less effective as the parasites become immune to their effects. Moreover, insecticides can make people uncomfortable and sick by infecting their skin.

4. Antimicrobial

Thymbra capitata, a fragrant plant native to Portugal whose essential oils (EO) boast high levels of carvacrol – an active compound shown to take down Gardnerella spp.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most prevalent gynecological infection, is characterized by an overgrowth of strict and facultative anaerobic bacteria, including Gardnerella spp.

While doctors typically prescribe antibiotics like metronidazole and clindamycin, they often fail to eliminate the biofilm behind the infection, leading to high recurrence rates. That’s where natural alternatives like EOs come in with their powerful antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.

5. Antifungal

Scientists studied a type of fungus that lives inside a plant called Leucaena leucocephala and found that the chemicals it produces, called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), have the potential to be used as antibiotics. After using unique methods, scientists found that they could stop the growth of these harmful organisms by 23.8% to 66.7% within 24 hours.

They also identified fifteen VOC chemicals, including terpenoids such as γ-terpinene, α-terpinene, and (-)-4-terpineol. These findings suggest that the VOCs from this particular fungus could be developed into a new antibiotic to fight against harmful organisms.

6. May help treat Alzheimer’s disease

Monoterpenes and their derivatives can treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and related disorders, insomnia, and anxiety. After a few tests on rats, scientists found improved memory and reduced anxiety by affecting different brain parts.

Monoterpenes can also be used to enhance the effects of other drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s, like galantamine. Some specific types of monoterpenes, like iridoids and secoiridoids, have also been found to help reduce inflammation and damage to the brain. More studies are needed to know how effective these treatments are for Alzheimer’s, but the tests show promise. 

Terpinene: The Versatile Terpene with a Surprising Range of Health Benefits

This list of terpinene’s effects and benefits shows the possibilities of this powerful terpene. Terpinene is a versatile and beneficial compound with various products and potential applications, making it a promising candidate for natural medicine and alternative therapies. 

As research on terpinene continues, scientists will likely discover more benefits and use for this compound. Whether through natural sources such as essential oils or synthetic derivatives, terpinene is an exciting area of study with many potential benefits for human health and well-being.

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