Terpene Profiles: Humulene
Think back to the last time you enjoyed a delicious, ice-cold beer (if that’s your thing). You may not have been aware of it at the time, but part of that distinct aroma of hops you experienced came from humulene, one of the most common terpenes in the plant world.
You can find humulene in all kinds of pungent edibles -- from sage and ginger to clove and basil. It’s also one of the most prominent terpenes in the cannabis plant, giving buds their unique scent, and a beneficial terpene to boot.
What is Humulene?
Humulene got its name from the common hops plant Humulus lupulus, where it was first identified as a terpene in the essential oils of the flower.
When expressed in a cannabis strain, humulene plays a vital role in the distinctive fragrance and taste characteristics of the flower. Humulene is one of the 20 most prevalent types of terpenes found in cannabis and provides a subtle woody, earthy aroma with spicy undertones. Along with pinene and myrcene, humulene is one of the fundamental elements that gives marijuana its overall aromatic profile. It’s definitely a terpene worth getting to know!
While humulene often appears in smaller quantities than other terpenes, strains like Headband, Death Star, Thin Mint GSC, Candyland, and Original Glue have concentrations that are higher-than-average.
Even though research into cannabis compounds like terpenes is just starting to ramp up, the benefits of Humulene have been known in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Humulene was used in a variety of applications like managing pain, fighting infections, and suppressing appetites. It’s still used today for its anti-bacterial, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and pharmacokinetic effects. In fact, research shows that there are a number of potential health benefits of humulene.
One of the most promising benefits is its anti-cancer properties that were first discovered in a 2003 study. Researchers believe humulene can produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which plays a role in the death of cancer cells. Another study form 2016 showed that humulene was effective at destroying cancer cells when combined with other terpenes.
Humulene has long been used as a folk medicine for its antibacterial properties—and for good reason. It’s found in balsam fir tree oil and is one of the compounds that make this oil so effective at killing bacteria. According to a 2006 study, humulene’s antibacterial properties are even effective against dangerous bacteria like golden staph (though we still recommend seeking medical care for such an infection).
Humulene has also been shown to act as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Its ability to reduce inflammation is one of the reasons some strains of cannabis are effective for easing chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. It may also be helpful in counteracting DOMS—delayed onset muscles soreness.
As an appetite suppressant, humulene may even have a positive effect on your waistline. While cannabis is usually associate with an increase in hunger—“the munchies”—strains with high amounts of humulene can act as appetite suppressants and help you better resist those snack foods you may crave when using other strains.
If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of humulene and other cannabis terpenes, stop by our Oakland Dispensary to explore different products featuring humulene and other terpenes! Our Experience Guides are ready to help you find the perfect strain for your goals!