Possible metabolic conversion of pinene to ionone

T. H. Al-Tel, H. Tarazi, L. O. Aloum, D. E. Lorke, Georg Petroianu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The unintended consequence of the ingestion of certain foods to alter the scent or color of urine is well known. Less awareness exists regarding the practice of ingestion of natural products or drugs with the intended purpose of conferring urine the scent of violets. The resin of the terebinth tree and the derived turpentine were widely used in antiquity in wine-making, both as taste enhancer and conserving agent, so the effect on urine was possibly noticed due to the presence in wines. It is also possible that turpentine's effect on urine was noticed subsequent to its use as medicine, as a component of various remedies popular in those days. The scent altering effect requires metabolic conversion of pinene, the main turpentine component to ionone, the molecule mainly responsible for the scent of violets. The metabolic pathway (in humans or otherwise) was (to our knowledge) not yet described. We here propose a possible metabolic pathway for the conversion of pinene to ionone, explaining the scent altering effect of turpentine. We also provide calculated pharmacokinetic (pK) data for the mentioned substances.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)360-363
Number of pages4
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


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