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Terpene Analysis: Sabinene (What is It & What Does it Do?)

Terpenes like sabinene give the flavor and aroma to hemp strains, but the famous entourage effect suggests they also enhance the effects of cannabinoids.

Article By
Daily CBD , last updated on December 20, 2021

Sabinene is one of the many naturally occurring terpenes in hemp and cannabis strains.

Terpenes give plants their distinct aromas and modify their therapeutic effects. 

Due to a phenomenon called the entourage effect, terpenes also enhance the effects of various cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.

Here, we’ll explore sabinene in more detail — highlighting its effects, exploring sabinene-rich cannabis strains, and analyzing the current medical research around this unique compound. 

Cannabis flower and other herbs (illustration)

What is Sabinene?

Sabinene is one of many terpenes found in nature and a variety of plants, including cannabis. If you like to spice up your meals with black pepper, you’ve already consumed sabinene, which is one of the compounds contributing to the spiciness of black pepper. 

Sabinene is prevalent in forest trees like holm oaks and Norway spruce. Sabinene also appears in small amounts in some cannabis strains such as lemonade haze, Diesel, and Orange Bud, amongst many others.

Sabinene Specs:

  1. Type of Terpene: Monoterpene (Bicyclic)
  2. Molecular Formula: C10H16
  3. Molecular Weight: 136.23
  4. Solubility: Soluble in water
  5. Boiling Point: 163.6 °C
  6. IUPAC Name: 4-methylene-1-(1-methylethyl)bicyclo[3.1.0]hexane
  7. Cannabis Strains: Member Berry, Northern Lights, GG4

What Does Sabinene Smell Like?

Sabinene is widely used in aromatherapy and fragrance manufacturing due to its enticing, warm, citrusy, and peppery aroma. This scent makes you feel like you’re in the forest, surrounded by herbs and the pungent woody-herbaceous smell of oak trees and Norway spruce.

What Are the Effects of Sabinene?

Like other cannabis terpenes, sabinene has long been studied for its potential health effects, and it has been demonstrated to possess anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. 

Moreover, sabinene can promote saliva production and may help improve digestion. 

How Common is Sabinene in Cannabis?

Sabinene is a minor cannabis terpene, meaning it is one of the rarest terpenes in cannabis plants. 

Even when sabinene is present in a cannabis strain, it’s usually in low concentrations.

Full-spectrum hemp-derived products will contain trace amounts of sabinene, as it’s naturally found in hemp. 

Some products might contain sabinene as an ingredient by adding sabinene-rich essential oils and enriching the product with this terpene.

Strains that contain relatively high concentrations of sabinene include: 

  • Member Berry
  • Northern Lights
  • GG4
Hemp flower closeup over white background

Other Sources of Sabinene

Besides cannabis plants, sabinene is also present in Holm oak trees, Norway spruce, black pepper, carrot seeds, and cardamom. It’s also found in holm oak, Norway spruce, nutmeg, and bay laurel essential oils.

List of plants containing sabinene: 

  • Holm Oak
  • Norway Spruce
  • Tea tree oil
  • Carrot seed

Sabinene Medical Research

As a minor terpene, sabinene is not as widely researched as abundant terpenes like myrcene; however, some studies have already investigated its potential therapeutic effects and suggest its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Sabinene

A study published in 2013 on Oenanthe crocata essential oil with a 29% concentration of sabinene investigated the terpene’s anti-inflammatory activity [2]. The study found that sabinene exhibited robust anti-inflammatory properties. 

The terpene was reported to work by inhibiting nitric oxide (NO) production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)-triggered macrophages. 

The study results support the use of sabinene for the management of dermatophytosis or inflammatory-related diseases.

2. Antimicrobial Effects of Sabinene

A 2018 study by the Japanese Pharmacological Society was the first report showing the antimicrobial, antioxidant, and cytoprotective effects of sabinene [3].

This in vitro study of sabinene suggests this terpene works by preventing yeast and bacterial cells’ ability to resist oxidative damage. 

Sabinene Chemical Structure

Sabinene is a natural compound found in many plants and essential oils. It’s a bicyclic monoterpene that possesses two cyclic rings which are condensed together. This makes sabinene structurally similar to alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, borneol, camphene, camphor, delta-3-carene, and thujone. 

Does Sabinene Get You High?

No, sabinene won’t get you high, nor will it contribute to the mind-altering effects of cannabis.

Cannabinoids are responsible for the euphoric and psychoactive properties of cannabis plants like marijuana. Even then, not all cannabinoids are psychoactive, such as the famous non-psychoactive CBD. 

However, terpenes like sabinene may impact the balance of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, helping regulate mood [4]. 

Our olfactory system is directly connected to the limbic system in the brain. When we inhale terpenes, their aromas trigger neurological activity deep within the limbic system (sometimes referred to as the reptilian brain). 

It’s unclear what effects sabinene has on mood and emotion.

Melaleuca (Tee Tree) Essential Oil Isolated on White Background.
Tea tree essential oil

Summary: What Makes Sabinene Special

Terpenes are an essential part of the cannabis plant, each offering its unique effects, flavor, and aroma profiles. Sabinene is a rare terpene but still can be found in low concentrations of many cannabis strains. 

Its presence affects the flavor and odor of the plant, usually providing a peppery, woody, piney smell and spicy and earthy taste. 

The potential therapeutic effects of sabinene are still being investigated, but what we now know for sure is that every cannabis compound in each strain significantly contributes to the overall experience of cannabis consumption and might serve to boost active cannabinoids’ effects.


  1. Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., … & Weller, A. (2020). The “entourage effect”: terpenes coupled with cannabinoids for the treatment of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Current Neuropharmacology, 18(2), 87-96.
  2. Valente, J., Zuzarte, M., Gonçalves, M. J., Lopes, M. C., Cavaleiro, C., Salgueiro, L., & Cruz, M. T. (2013). Antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Oenanthe crocata L. essential oil. Food and chemical toxicology, 62, 349-354.
  3. Bansal, J. G., Gupta, P., & Sharma, S. (2018). Similarity searching approach in the identification of bioactive sabinene as potential antimicrobial, antioxidant and cytoprotective molecule. In Proceedings for Annual Meeting of The Japanese Pharmacological Society WCP2018 (The 18th World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology) (pp. PO2-12). Japanese Pharmacological Society.
  4. Cox-Georgian, D., Ramadoss, N., Dona, C., & Basu, C. (2019). Therapeutic and medicinal uses of terpenes. In Medicinal Plants (pp. 333-359). Springer, Cham.

Learn More About Terpenes & Cannabinoids

Learn More About Terpenes & Cannabinoids

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