α-Pinene


α-Pinene is a productive chemical constituent that’s seen in various species of coniferous trees especially the Pine. It’s also seen in Rosemary as well. α-pinene is more commonly seen in European pines; it is one of the two isomers of pine and an organic compound seen in the terpene class.

A mixture of α-pinene and α-isomer is seen in Eucalyptus oil and Orange peel oil. The chemical substance is also seen in Juniper berries and tea tree oil. The concentration and quantity of the chemical compound present in the oil depends on the temperature and availability of sunlight.

α-Pinene is seen in several essential oils and exhibits anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and acts as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. It also functions as an acetyl cholinesterase inhibitor and as a bronchodilator as well.

In ancient times, drops of the resin were collected from the bark of the trees to treat ailments. The resin collected was mixed with wine, milk or water to treat respiratory illnesses especially the ones that lead to congestion of the airway. The mixture was used as an expectorant to create relief.

The mixture of the resin were also used internally and externally to treat parasitic infections. Mixed with bees wax or animal fat, alpha-pinene was used as an antimicrobial ointment or an analgesic balm.

In the 1600, the Dutch used Juniper berries to create an alcoholic tonic which is now commonly known as Gin. This was even used as a medical aid in the ancient times. The French distilled the chemical compound from the bark of Juniper trees to create a product to treat skin diseases like eczema.

The resins containing α-Pinene called melaleuca was also put to use in the Aborigine cultures of ancient Australia to treat open wounds and prevent further infection, and also to treat fungal infections of the feet as well.

Likewise several cultures around the world used α-Pinene as tinctures, in teas and in topical formulations. As of today, this chemical constituent is being used in mouthwashes, cough lozenges, cold and chest ointments.

Antibacterial cytotoxic activity of α-Pinene:

A study conducted on Rosmarinus officinalis L. Essential Oil which contains 1,8-cineole (27.23%), α-pinene (19.43%) and β-pinene (6.71%) as its major constituents; was performed to identify the cytotoxic and antibacterial activity of the oil. The results suggested that R. officinalis L. essential oil was extremely effective towards three different kinds of cancer cells and exhibited the highest antibacterial activity.

Antimicrobial properties of α-Pinene:

Several studies have been carried out to understand the antimicrobial activities of α-pinene. One of these studies was on Biological Activities of α-Pinene and β-Pinene Enantiomers. This study was to understand the effect of the chemical substances on bacterial and fungal cells.

The study proved that α-Pinene projected an incredible amount of microbicidal activity against all fungi and bacteria when treated with MICs that ranged from 117 to 4,150 µg/mL.

Anti-inflammatory effects of α-Pinene:

Studies have proved that α-pinene exhibits anti-inflammatory effects in human Chondrocytes; keeping this in mind a study was carried out to establish an understanding on α-pinene and its anti-osteoarthritic activity.

The results focused positive feedback on the effects of α-pinene as an anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and anti-osteoarthritic and should be studied further for its promising activity as an anti-osteoarthritic drug.

Reference links:

  1. Antibacterial Activity and Anticancer Activity of Rosmarinus officinalis L. Essential Oil Compared to That of Its Main Components by Wei Wang, Nan Li, Meng Luo, Yuangang Zu and Thomas Efferth, published in Molecular Diversity Preservation International Journal.
  2. What are the medical uses of alpha-pinene? By WiseGeek
  3. Anti-inflammatory and Chondroprotective Activity of (+)-α-Pinene: Structural and Enantiomeric Selectivity by University of Coimbra, Portugal, published in the Journal of Natural Products.