Terpene Profiles: Caryophyllene, A Spicy, Peppery Medicine from the Cannabis Plant

If you’ve been reading our blog, you know we’ve been hot on the trail of terpenes, the fragrant hydrocarbons (or essential oils) that give different strains of cannabis—and many other plants and natural substances—their distinctive aromas and flavors.

We believe assessing terpenes is one of the most important—some would say the most important—ways to assess and characterize cannabis strains. Today, we’re going to dive into the story of one of the most distinctive and medically useful of these compounds: caryophyllene.

If you’ve ever sensed a pleasantly peppery aroma or flavor in cannabis—one reminiscent not only of black peppercorns but oregano, cloves, and rosemary—you’re picking up on its caryophyllene content.

But what is it doing for our bodies? As is so often the case, the inside story is so much deeper than we could have imagined!

Caryophyllene- cloves in a bowl

What Does Caryophyllene Do For Us?

Caryophyllene is one of the “primary terpenes,” meaning it’s relatively abundant in cannabis. Like many other terpenes—including humulene and pinene—it exhibits powerful analgesic (or pain-fighting) effects.

But unlike those terpenes, caryophyllene is the only one known to interact with our bodies’ CB2 receptors, just like cannabinoids like THC and CBD do. That gives it extra potential to fight both inflammation, as research suggests, and anxiety and depression, at least in rodent-model studies. Here are some other known effects of ingesting caryophyllene.

Pain Relief: As noted above, caryophyllene has powerful pain-fighting qualities. Because it binds directly to our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors, it’s often found in topicals and salves, such as the ones we offer on our online dispensary menu.

Reduced Alcohol Craving: It appears that caryophyllene may have a role to play in reducing alcohol dependence. A study published in 2014 found that the terpene reduced alcohol intake, again in rodent models. Of course, “mice aren’t men,” as the saying goes, but we’re anxious to see further research that could benefit those who suffer from alcohol dependence.

Anti-Cancer: For many scientists, finding a cure for cancer is researchers’ holy grail, the single most pressing question in the entire field of medicine. While we’re not quite there yet, some compounds found in the cannabis plant show real promise. One of them is—you guessed it— caryophyllene. Separate studies in Canada and South Korea have demonstrated this powerful terpene’s ability to assist in the destruction of cancer cells, at least in the laboratory. You can rest assured this research will only continue.

Caryophyllene - peppercorns in a bowl

How to Get Caryophyllene from Cannabis

Because of its relative abundance, it’s not difficult to find caryophyllene in cannabis. Here are a few of our favorite strains rich in this powerful terpene:

Super Silver Haze is a famous and popular sativa strain, typically characterized by piney, citrusy and peppery aromas. It does tend to be buzzy and energetic, and some find it causes distracting “racing mind” effects. On the other hand, it’s beloved by many creatives for its energizing and inspiring qualities.

OG Kush is a potent high-THC strain, and its piney, peppery and earthy aromas lead many fans to label it the ultimate “dank” weed. Its pleasurable effects include strong euphoria and general uplift, but be forewarned: It can exhibit powerful “couch lock”!

Ready to try some caryophyllene-rich strains? Visit our Oakland dispensary for high-quality cannabis products and an experience you won’t soon forget!