Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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Terpenes are found in virtually all plants, meaning you’ve most likely come across many of them in nature, even if inadvertently. If you’ve ever visited a pine grove or enjoyed a glass of orange juice, you’ve encountered delta 3 carene. Delta 3 carene may also be spelled “delta-3-carene” or just “3-carene.”
Delta 3 carene is a simple terpene and colorless essential oil found in cannabis and other plants. It exudes an earthy, cedar-like aroma with citrus notes. It is found in basil, bell peppers, rosemary, and other herbs and trees and is the primary constituent of turpentine. It may combat inflammation, repair damaged bones and promote mental focus and concentration. 3-carene may be used in combination with limonene and eucalyptol, which could be useful for conditions like ADHD and depression.
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What Is Delta 3 Carene?
Delta-3-carene, sometimes hyphenated delta-3-carene, 3-carene, or simply carene, is a bicyclic monoterpene found in cannabis and other plants. Delta-3-carene is a naturally occurring component of turpentine, capable of composing up to 42% of concentrations depending on its source.
The terpene features a sweet, pungently herbal, and earthy scent found in citrus, cypress, and pinewood. Pine and cedar trees naturally produce delta-3-carene, as do herbs such as basil, rosemary, and some peppers.
The terpene is known for its unique ability to draw out liquids and is sometimes included in antihistamine remedies and products meant to dry out excessive menstruation or mucus. Although these reports are anecdotal, Delta 3 carene’s drying ability contributes to the side effects of dry mouth/cottonmouth and red eyes among cannabis users. This can also make medical cannabis potentially helpful in preventing drooling associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Delta 3 carene is found in many plant essential oils and is a popular ingredient in cosmetics, fragrance products, and a food flavoring agent. You’ve likely tasted delta 3 carene in your morning glass of orange juice or as an infusion in salad dressings or teas. Its presence in turpentine also makes it a powerful agent in industrial-strength insect repellents.
Health Benefits and Uses
We still have a long way to go to understand the complete usefulness of terpenes. Still, the existing research on delta 3 carene supports a host of positive potential benefits in treating certain medical conditions.
Evidence points to delta 3-carene as a beneficial anti-inflammatory, with one study examining its effectiveness on edema’s over-retention of water. The study found that delta 3 carene’s high presence in an essential oil was the reason for high effectiveness against acute inflammation from edema in rats. These properties also have promising implications for other inflammatory conditions, such as Alzheimer’s.
In multiple models, delta 3 carene also showed potential to improve bone health via increased calcium absorption into bones. One study examining nearly 90 compounds found that essential oils with high levels of delta 3 carene improved the bone health of animal subjects when added to their diets. These results are promising in treating bone disease and promoting overall healthy bone structure.
Finally, some research suggests that delta 3 carene’s presence in juniper oil was a beneficial alternative in combating fungal infections, pointing to its potential use as an antifungal agent and treatment.
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Potential Risks and Side Effects
Current research shows few, but some, detrimental effects from consuming or topically using delta 3 carene. As a component of industrial wood dust, delta 3 carene can contribute to skin, eye, and lung irritation and inflammation.
The ability of the terpene to dry out body fluids can also cause mild irritation to the throat and respiratory tract when overused. It is responsible for the cottonmouth experience and development of dry, reddened eyes when consuming cannabis.
The mouth-drying ability is not ideal for those wanting to avoid gum inflammation or excessive plaque formation, although this can be mitigated somewhat by drinking water, avoiding too much sugar, and eating well.
Cannabis Strains High in Delta 3 Carene
If you’re looking to reap the usefulness of the delta 3 carene terpene, the following strains/cultivars feature its unique herbal aroma and potential benefits:
- Arjan’s Ultra Haze
- OG Kush
- Jack Herer
- Super Lemon Haze
- Super Silver Haze
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Frequently Asked Questions
What does delta 3 carene smell like?
Delta 3 carene features a sweet, pungently herbal, and earthy scent found in citrus, cypress, and pinewood. It also features hints of citrus and sourness. Pine and cedar trees naturally produce delta 3 carene, as do herbs such as basil, rosemary, and peppers.
How does delta 3 carene help bones?
One study found that low concentrations of delta 3 carene stimulate the re-mineralization of bones by inducing the expression of proteins such as collagen responsible for repairing bone structure. While the precise mechanisms are still unknown, delta 3 carene improved the bone health of animal subjects when added to their diets.
These results are promising in treating bone disease and promoting overall healthy bone structure.
Does delta 3 carene cause red eyes when smoking marijuana?
Delta 3 carene’s ability to dry out body fluids can contribute to the cottonmouth experience and the development of dry, reddened eyes when consuming cannabis. Cannabinoids like THC can also induce dilation (widening) of the blood vessels, which can decrease blood pressure overall and increase blood flow to your eyeball. Delta-3-carene may contribute to these effects, but the effects of other cannabinoids may bear greater responsibility.
Does delta 3 carene have an “up” or “down” effect?
Delta-3-carene, like limonene, is said to promote mental focus and concentration. When combined with other citrus- and pine-like terpenes, 3-carene may have more stimulating effects.