Caryophyllene: The Spicy Terpene with Serious Medical Benefits

Caryophyllene is one of the most popular terpenes among cannabis connoisseurs and cultivators for a reason.

May 28, 2018
Caryophyllene: The Spicy Terpene with Serious Medical Benefits

(Photo by Laura Lezza via Getty Images)

Terpenes like caryophyllene, also known as beta-cayophyllene or BCP, are crucial to not only the smell and taste of weed but also the medical benefits and different effects strains provide. There are over 100 known terpenoids in the cannabis plant, but BCP is one of the most prominent. Let’s take a close look at this primary terpene to learn how it can help, how it smells and tastes, and which strains you can find it in.

Caryophyllene: Aroma and Flavor

Caryophyllene is the terpene that gives black pepper its spiciness. It’s known for its spicy, woody taste and aroma and is found in many other plants and herbs, including cloves, cinnamon, hops, rosemary, basil, black caraway, and even, lavender.

How Caryophyllene Works

Similar to how cannabinoids like THC and CBD affect the body, terpenes also interact with the endocannabinoid system. Caryophyllene, specifically, binds to the CB2 receptor, which is one of the main cannabinoid receptors in the body. CB2 receptors are thought to be responsible for the “body high” effects of cannabis and don’t produce psychoactive effects like when THC interacts with CB1 receptors. Plus, CB2 receptors, which can be found in immune cells, are also known to mitigate inflammation, as shown by this 2010 study. Meaning, cannabinoids and terpenoids which bind to them have great medical potential.

Medical Benefits of Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene’s interaction with CB2 receptors is believed to be the reason it has so many potential medical benefits. Let’s take a look at what some of the existing research says about beta-caryophyllene’s medical value.

Anti-Inflammatory

Because caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors, a 2012 study set out to see if the terpene could provide anti-inflammatory effects. BCP proved to be a powerful anti-inflammatory with “tremendous therapeutic potential in a multitude of diseases,” according to the authors of the paper.

A 2011 study also examined BCP’s anti-inflammatory effects and concluded the terpene could be a possible treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. What’s more, a 2014 study found trans-caryophyllene, a similar compound, to potentially prevent neuroinflammation.

Pain Relief

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Not only is caryophyllene an anti-inflammatory, but it may also provide pain relief. In fact, a 2001 study found the terpenoid could work as a local anesthetic. Plus, a 2014 study found beta-caryophyllene to reduce inflammation and neuropathic pain without signs of a tolerance forming. That led researchers to conclude: “BCP may be highly effective in the treatment of long-lasting, debilitating pain states… and modulation of chronic pain conditions.”

Anxiety and Depression

Research has shown that CB2 receptors not only mediate anti-inflammatory action but may also be related to anxiety and depression disorders. A 2014 study examined behavior in mice who were given caryophyllene to investigate the role of CB2 receptors and BCP on depression and anxiety. They found that beta-caryophyllene “may ameliorate the symptoms of these mood disorders,” which “offers exciting prospects for future studies.”

Cancer

As if beta-caryophyllene wasn’t miraculous enough, it may also have cancer-fighting abilities. A 2016 review found caryophyllene to “affect growth and proliferation of numerous cancer cells.” The study concluded that, because BCP shows promise in stunting the development of particular cancer cells and relieving pain, it could be very valuable to cancer patients.

Addiction

In recent years, several studies have shown that CB2 receptors may play a critical part in addiction and the related rewards systems in the brain. So, researchers in this 2014 study tested beta-caryophyllene’s effect on alcohol intake in mice. They found that mice dosed with BCP decreased their alcohol consumption, making the terpene a potential aid in addiction therapy.

Longevity

A 2014 study, which gave BCP to worms, found that it can actually extend life. At this point, it feels like beta-caryophyllene is just showing off. However, researchers found that BCP worked many angles, including reducing stress, modulating feeding behavior, and reducing free radical levels, to prolong life by a whopping 22 percent.

Strains High in Caryophyllene

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The miraculous benefits of this peppery terpene have hardly gone unnoticed by cannabis connoisseurs and cultivators. Its awesomely earthy aroma, stress-relieving effects, and incredible medical benefits are making caryophyllene one popular terpene. Check out some of the most famous strains with high levels of BCP, including:

Caryophyllene is an important terpene with tons of medical benefits. Expect to see a lot more news about this incredible terpenoid because of its close relationship with the endocannabinoid system and CB2 receptors. Plus, don’t forget to enjoy its relaxing high and spicy, woody taste.

May 28, 2018