Terpenes provide a wide variety of aromatic properties ranging from floral and earthy notes to musky and citrusy ones. When it come to the spicier side of the spectrum, caryophyllene holds the trophy for the most flair.
The terpene caryophyllene is present in many herbs and spices, including black pepper, basil, and oregano, and cannabis strains with high levels of it deliver a spicy, funky warmth to the nose, similar to cinnamon and cloves.
What makes caryophyllene an intriguing terpene is its relationship with our endocannabinoid system, particularly, its ability to bind to CB2 receptors. Because of this, it comes with a host of potential medical benefits.
With more insights into inner workings of cannabis and its compounds, the community is turning towards paying more attention to terpenes, the molecule combinations responsible for the variety of aromas and effects provided by the plant.
In this part of our Series we will talk about an exciting one – the Caryophyllene terpene.
What is Caryophyllene Terpene? What Flavor Is It?
Caryophyllene (pronounced ˌkærioʊˈfɪliːn / ka-riou-fai-len), formally known as Beta-Caryophyllene or β-caryophyllene is a terpene found in numerous essential oils. Its chemical formula is C15H24.
Cannabis strains with high Caryophyllene content often have that musky and spice aroma with powerful pepper notes.
Caryophyllene’s unique profile
Also called beta-caryophyllene or BCP, this terpene can be found in aromatic oils like rosemary and clove oil, and in nature it’s most commonly found in hops, cloves, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and basil. It’s responsible for the slight bite of pungency associated with smelling cracked pepper.
Caryophyllene is a bigger molecule than terpenes like myrcene and limonene. Caryophyllene’s molecular structure also contains a cyclobutane ring, something rare in nature and not found in any other known cannabis terpene.
The human body’s endocannabinoid system contains a vast network of receptors located throughout the body. Two major types exist: CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mainly in our peripheral organs.
When a cannabinoid such as THC is ingested, it primarily binds to CB1 receptors located in the brain and central nervous system, producing a euphoric effect.
The unique molecular structure of caryophyllene allows it to easily bind to CB2 receptors primarily located within our peripheral endocannabinoid system. This means that is doesn’t cause any of the euphoric feelings of cannabis while providing many of the benefits associated with activating those receptors, like reducing inflammation.
It’s unlike any other terpene because it is the only one that has the ability to directly activate a cannabinoid receptor, especially CB2 receptors.
High-caryophyllene cannabis strains
Cannabis strains with high levels of caryophyllene tend to be spicy and musky, and some are also known to have a funky profile. Many carry prominent notes of diesel and fuel that are known to cause the same nose-tingling bite associated with taking a whiff of pepper.
Some strains with a higher-than-average amount of caryophyllene include:
- Cali Bubba
- Sour Diesel
- Death Star
- Original Glue
- Cookies and Cream
- The White
- Master Kush
Caryophyllene is found in high levels in many strains of the Cookies family—Platinum GSC, GSC, Cookies and Cream, and Candyland (Platinum Cookies x Grandaddy Purple).
This stress-relieving terpene is also present in many hybrids known to cause relaxation and reduce anxiety. Given its unique aromatic notes, it’s fairly easy to detect in a strain.
Many cannabis topicals and salves utilize strains with high levels of caryophyllene, showcasing its natural aromatic profile while also providing therapeutic benefits.
The potential benefits of caryophyllene
Studies on caryophyllene indicate a wide variety of therapeutic potential. A 2014 study shows pain-relieving properties of the terpene in mice, and another rodent study shows caryophyllene’s potential to reduce alcohol intake, making this terpene a possible treatment for addiction.
Caryophyllene has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and to be a possible therapy for treating inflammatory bowel disease. Research has even found that caryophyllene may be able to treat anxiety and depression.
Current studies are hoping to unveil even more of the therapeutic potential behind caryophyllene, including research indicating that it may help with lifespan longevity by reducing gene stress.
Effects and Benefits of the Cannabis Terpene Beta-Caryophyllene
Our body is influenced by cannabinoids through the endocannabinoid system, with two major receptors being CB1 and CB2. They allow us to feel the effects and experience benefits of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBN, and so on. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and throughout the body while CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune and gastrointestinal system.
Caryophyllene is unique in the way that it acts the way cannabinoids do – activating CB2 receptors and thus providing its benefits to the system. Since it does not interact with CB1 receptors it has no psychoactive effects.
The latter basically means that you get all the potential health benefits with no side effects making this terpene a popular subject of studies.
Beta-Caryophyllene – Terpene Against Anxiety
Caryophyllene has been found and reported to help with pain management, spasms, anxiety, depression and even Alzheimer’s and alcoholism. In case of the latter it reduces alcohol intake.
It has also shown potential in combating sleep disorders and boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
What Does Caryophyllene Terpene Do?
Caryophyllene is responsible for a number of flavors in cannabis and other plants – earthy, spicy, and herbal notes are the result of its presence. It is also one of the terpenes responsible for the pungent and diesel smells we associate with cannabis.
Caryophyllene is used as a natural food additive, flavoring, and enhancer and is FDA approved.
It also has preservative properties which are used in beer, and is a common component in various topical products due to its flavor and potential benefits.
Where is Caryophyllene Found?
Apart from cannabis, substantial amounts of Caryophyllene can be found in the following plants or more precisely their essential oils: black pepper, hops, oregano (no wonder scammers often use it as a substitute for marijuana), cloves, basil, rosemary, cinnamon and more.
Caryophyllene is a unique terpene that has been studied extensively though we still expect to find more of its potential uses and benefits.
Stay tuned to hear more about the amazing world of terpenes and don’t forget to use our newest feature of sorting strains by their predominant terpenes in our Flower section.