Terpenes 101: Caryophyllene

Intro to terpenes

Caryophyllene, a terpene found in cannabis, is well known for its spiciness: it’s in black pepper, cloves, hops, rosemary, and basil. It comes in two forms, beta carophyllene and trans-carophyllene and offers many health benefits. While salt is linked to an increase in blood pressure and heart issues, black pepper is beneficial to wellness and the terpenes inside of it are a major reason.

The Ailments that Caryophyllene Helps Heal

Caryophyllene is an overachiever when it comes to fixing the body. Some of the perks it offers include: it induces pain relief, it slows the growth of bacteria, it relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety, it reduces chronic inflammation, it prevents oxidation which prevents cell damage (and ultimately several diseases), and it’s neuroprotective (it protects the brain and nervous system from damage inflicted by trauma, illness, or the normal aging process).

It may also offer people longer lives

Studies have shown that it reduces stress enough in worms to increase their lifespan and the assumption is it can do the same in humans. One may wonder how stressed out a worm can actually be (they do have the early bird to worry about, however), but it’s a promising premise nonetheless. In other studies, this terpene was shown to reduce alcohol consumption by lessening its addictive effects. And it assists with the regulation of lipids, which may delay the onset of diabetes (and is probably beneficial in everyone, diabetic or otherwise).

Caryophyllene and Cancer

Of course, terpenes and their relevance to cancer is a hot topic and many point to it as the potential breakthrough to a cure (or, at the very least, a piece of the puzzle). Doctors argue away from this, stating that cancer is such a varied disease (i.e., breast cancer behaves differently from prostate cancer) that a cure-all isn’t likely. But, maintenance is: cancer may turn into something people live with, instead of something deadly. It may morph into a manageable disease that’s contained as its ability to spread is drastically reduced. And terpenes may have something to do with this.

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, caryophyllene does indeed possess cancer-fighting properties

A study reported in September of 2015 found that beta-caryophyllene inhibited the growth of solid tumors and lymph node metastasis in mice with melanoma. A study conducted years before in 2007 found similar positives: the terpene significantly increased anti-cancer activity against several cancer cell lines. It showed the potential to increase the effectiveness of chemo drugs as well. The research indicated that this increase was ten-fold.

Caryophyllene and Anxiety

While most of us will reach for a bottle of wine over a bottle of black pepper whenever we’re feeling stressed out, studies suggest we might be erring in that decision (or, perhaps, we should be mixing the two together). Black_Pepper_and_Rosemary, CaryophylleneBut caryophyllene’s true anti-anxiety potency may have to do with cannabis. Per Leaf Science, a study in German in 2008 discovered that beta-caryophyllene acted as a cannabinoid by binding marijuana pathways in the body. Specifically, it targets CB2 receptors.

A study published in Physiology and Behavior further explored the link between beta-caryophyllene and anxiety. During this experiment, researchers used mice to prove the terpene’s anti-depressant qualities. CB2 receptors have long proven to play a role in reducing anxiety and stress. This is important as, medically speaking, one of the most common reasons for using marijuana is this mental relief: a 2013 report in the Trends in Pharmacological Sciences found that it was the number one self-reported reason.

CB1 receptors, in regards to marijuana and anxiety, are more of a mixed bag. In low does, cannabinoids that target CB1 receptors can help, but at higher doses they don’t. Rather, they can worsen tension, stress, and paranoia.

Strains high in Carophyllene

As everyone knows by now, cannabis is loaded with terpenes, but certain strains offer higher amounts of different kinds. If you’re looking for strains with carophyllene, try one of the following:

Super Silver Haze: Super Silver Haze is a widely adored sativa that was all the rage in the 1990s and remains popular today among both recreational and medical users. It’s known for its powerful psychoactive affects and physical sensations.  It provides users with pep but isn’t a good strain for getting things done: you’ll want to get up and go but then you’ll forget where you were going. It is thought-provoking, however, and may be helpful to completing creative endeavors. Users typically experience a soothing body high after the initial energy that is described as long-lasting and pain relieving. Other users report sharpened senses and relief from mood disorders.

Skywalker: Skywalker is equally indica and sativa with a moderate THC count that hovers around fifteen percent. Many users report indica-like sensations described as mellow. Still, it doesn’t induce overt couch-lock even with the little bit of laziness. Users experience euphoria, an uplifted mood, and relaxation. Skywalker, CaryophylleneMost people who smoke Skywalker report feeling happy with a body high that is mild (when compared to pure indicas) and thus good for minor aches and pains (though it might not be strong enough for intense pain). It’s often used to relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia and better suited for nighttime use in people without tolerance.

RockStar: RockStar took second place in the 2012 hybrid category at the High Times Cannabis Cup. It’s known for easing tension, leaving muscles relaxed, and causing users to feel happy and content. It doesn’t offer the strong sedating effects typical of indicas, but does help with rest. This may have to do with RockStar’s ability to relieve depression, stress, and anxiety. It’s used to alleviate migraine pain and nausea as well. On the downside, it tends to cause quite a bit of dry mouth, so have a glass of water, or an entire gallon, on hand.

Terpenes 101: Caryophyllene was last modified: by
Jenn Keeler
About Jenn Keeler
Jenn Keeler is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in humorous lifestyle articles. She is one of the few people on earth actually using an English degree. Her heart belongs to the Denver Broncos and her husband. In that order.