Terpenes in Cannabis: Sabinene

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Sabinene is considered a secondary terpene in the cannabis plant because the concentrations of this terpene are quite low. However, even at low concentrations, sabinene can alter the aromatic qualities of different strains of cannabis due to its powerful spicy punch. It is one of two terpenes, along with caryophyllene (beta caryophyllene), that give black pepper its peppery flavor. It is also a major flavor and major aromatic component in nutmeg, the seed spice from the evergreen Myristica fragrans tree native to the Spice Islands off Indonesia. Because of its high profile in nutmeg, people often comment that sabinene smells “like the holidays” or “like pumpkin pie.”

The presence of sabinene is also responsible for the unique flavor and aroma of marjoram, an herb spice that is not as well known today but was once considered one of the best flavors to add to food in the Middle Ages. Its spicy peppery qualities were more appreciated back when black pepper was much more expensive than it is now and very difficult to obtain. Sabinene is also present in other spicy spices like cardamom and cloves. If you’ve ever drank a spicy chai tea, you’ve consumed and smelled sabinene for sure.

While the predominant terpene in marjoram is sabinene, it combines with other terpenes in lower concentrations. The essential oil of marjoram was used extensively as medicine during the Middle Ages, particularly for its ability to improve liver function to detoxify the body and aid in digestion, stimulating the gastric juices and bile, while relieving intestinal gas and aiding in the peristalsis of the food. Actually too, the digestive aid of sabinene starts in the mouth as it stimulates the production of more saliva which begins to break down food before it is swallowed. Sabinene is one of the terpenes in the cannabis plant that also plays this role when CBD oil is taken for the purpose of improving digestion.

Sabinene is one of the terpenes in cannabis that works synergistically with cannabinoids to help relieve inflammation and pain from arthritis and other autoimmune disorders like lupus. It also suggested that it helps to relieve muscle spasms and abdominal cramps, including menstrual cramps. It has been shown to have strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity so it reduces the chance of infections taking hold in the body and can help rid the body of pathogenic bacteria and pathogenic viruses.

Some people believe sabine has anaphrodisiac properties, the opposite from aphrodisiac qualities. Besides liver detoxification, sabinene also opens the skin pores and promotes perspiration, thereby helping to detoxify the body naturally without any prescription medications.

A special note should be made that sabinene is a major component of savin oil, extracted from the tops of Juniperus sabina, a compact conifer shrub that grows low to the ground and spreads out more horizontally than vertically. In folk medicine, savin oil was used extensively, especially to treat genital warts caused by syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. It was also used to treat lung diseases and problems in the air passageways. However, today most sources advise against its use on any part of the skin unless very dilute. Most sources also advise against breathing sabinene into the lungs and or using it for aromatherapy purposes as it is considered to produce toxin fumes in high concentrations.

By many people, sabinene is considered “toxic.” Some deaths have been reported by the overuse of sabinene. However, like pulegone, sabinene is a terpene that can be beneficial in low concentrations, like that found in the cannabis plant and its essential oil, but can also be harmful if used in really high concentrations. For example, sabinene can be beneficial to skin ailments when used in low concentrations and in combination with other terpenes and cannabinoids in full spectrum CBD oil. However, it can also badly blister the skin when used at higher concentrations.

Full spectrum CBD oil extracted from therapeutic cultivars of cannabis plants grown in pristine conditions seems to have just the right amount of sabinene to be beneficial to the human body without being anywhere near the high concentrations that are considered toxic. This is yet another example of where the cannabis plant seems to be the perfect combination of terpenes and cannabinoids to aid in human health without generating unwanted side effects!