Thujene, often referred to as alpha-thujene, is an organic compound classified as a monoterpene.1 It’s found in a variety of natural sources, including eucalyptus, frankincense, dill, juniper, and coriander. 2 Thujene is transparent in color with a slight yellow tint.
Outside of its therapeutic properties, thujene is often used in the cosmetic and fragrance industries due to its pungent, spicy taste and herbal, woodsy scent.
A-thujene can be found in high concentration in certain varieties of frankincense essential oil, especially Boswellia serrata, known as Indian frankincense. This particular type of frankincense essential oil can be composed of up to 65 percent a-thujene. 3
A-thujene can sometimes be mistaken for a-thujone due to their similar names. However, a-thujone is a neurotoxic substance and one of the main constituents of wormwood.
Although the term “thujene” most often refers to a-thujene, it can also refer to some of its isomers, which have the same molecular formula but differ in chemical structure. B-thujene and sabinene are two chemically-related double bond isomers of a-thujene.
Thujene is classified as a monoterpene, meaning it contains 10 carbon atoms and at least one double bond. The ten carbon atoms are derived from two isoprene units. Monoterpenes tend to be the most volatile type of terpene, creating their distinct fragrances.
Oils that are high in monoterpenes tend to have a shorter shelf life and evaporate quicker, although they also have the benefit of absorbing more quickly into the skin.
Essential oils that are high in monoterpenes often have antimicrobial, antioxidant, uplifting, and energizing properties.
Uses for Thujene
Although not many studies have been conducted on a-thujene itself, a variety of studies have been conducted on the therapeutic properties of Boswellia serrata, which is composed primarily of a-thujene.
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These studies show that a-thujene may have pain-relieving, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2014 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology studied the analgesic properties of Boswellia serrata. In the study, 12 healthy subjects were either given a single dose of Boswellia serrata or a placebo.
Mechanical pain was then assessed one, two, and three hours after the dose was administered. The results showed that those who were given the dose of Boswellia serrata displayed significantly increased pain tolerance and pain threshold compared to those who were given the placebo.
While this study leads to the belief that Boswellia serrata has analgesic properties, it could also mean that its main chemical constituent is responsible for this activity. 4
A 2016 study published in Letters in Applied Microbiology tested the antimicrobial effects of nine different essential oils on skin, scalp, and nail infections. Of the nine different oils tested, Boswellia serrata showed the highest levels of antimicrobial activity, especially against Staphylococcus and C. albicans.
The GCMS analysis of this oil revealed that a-thujene was its main component. 5
A 2015 study published in PLoS One tested the anti-inflammatory effects of Boswellia serrata against inflammatory bowel diseases. The study was conducted on an in vitro experimental model of intestinal inflammation.
The results showed that Boswellia serrata demonstrated both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and could be a potential remedy for those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. 6
While these anti-inflammatory studies have not been conducted on humans, they still show the health benefits of a-thujene and a-thujene-rich essential oils.
Essential oils high in a-thujene, such as frankincense essential oil, can be used to relieve minor aches and pains, soothe digestive issues, reduce inflammations, and protect against harmful germs and bacteria.
You can benefit from the healing properties of a-thujene by using essential oils high in this terpene either topically or aromatically. Essential oils can be mixed into relaxing massage oil, added to a warm bath, used aromatically through a diffuser, or added to homemade soaps, lotions, and cleansers.
Chemical formula for thujene: C10H16
Molar mass: 136.238 g/mol