What is Caryophyllene? Does it Actually Do Anything?

There are over 100 terpenes in the cannabis plant, lets talk about caryophyllene.

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Caryophyllene is just one terpene, out of the 100 terpenes that are found in the cannabis plant. Caryophyllene is well known for its spiciness – it’s also found in black pepper, cloves, hops, rosemary, and basil.

Terpenes such as caryophyllene, are just one of the factors that exist within our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The different terpenes interact with the different cannabinoids in our ECS, which is what creates the wide variety of effects that occur when consuming the things that contain them. It comes in two forms, beta-caryophyllene, and trans-caryophyllene.

Caryophyllene specifically, is believed to have a possibility of inhibiting cancer cell growth, reducing stress and even helping with pain. However, this topic is not well studied and not yet proven to be true. Although terpene research is young, it is exciting nonetheless. Let’s dive into some of the research regarding the uses, effects and possible health benefits of caryophyllene.

Caryophyllene’s Potential Benefits

Some of the potential perks of caryophyllene include: pain relief, slowing the growth of bacteria, relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety and, reducing chronic inflammation. According to a scientific journal about the Therapeutic Potential of β-Caryophyllene, “it [Caryophyllene] has shown potent therapeutic promise in neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative and, metabolic diseases.”

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There have even been studies where caryophyllene was shown to reduce alcohol consumption by lessening its addictive effects. This is because the caryophyllene in the cannabis plant reacts with the CB2 receptors in our brains which influence our reward system. 

There is still a lot of budding research being done on the endocannabinoid system and how the different cannabinoids react in your brain. For example, a 2014 study shows that Caryophyllene reduces enough stress in worms to increase their lifespan, which opens up the discussion that perhaps it could do the same in humans. One may wonder how stressed out a worm can actually be, but it’s a promising premise nonetheless. 

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). Some 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. As research progresses, we may find that terpenes may have something to do with this.

There have been several studies regarding caryophyllene and its effects on cancer growth. In 2015, a study published in a scientific journal about Carcinogenesis found that beta-caryophyllene inhibited the growth of solid tumors and lymph node metastasis in mice that were injected with melanoma cells.

Multicultural young women with pink ribbons, breast cancer awareness.

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Another study conducted years before in 2007, found a similar result regarding terpenoids as a whole. This study found that terpenes significantly increased anti-cancer activity in liver cells by selectively killing cancerous cells while sparing the healthy cells. The study states that perhaps there is “potential chemopreventive and therapeutic agents in the fight against liver cancer.” This is a great sign in the world of terpene medical research, although there is still a lot of work to be done.

According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), caryophyllene does indeed possess cancer-fighting properties. The AACR stated, “beta-caryophyllene (BCP), a bicyclic sesquiterpene, induces cell death across a variety of cancer cell types, although the mechanism(s) by which this occurs is not completely known.” Although this does seem like an amazing breakthrough, we must keep in mind that it has never actually been reported to cure cancer. 

Is Caryophyllene Related To Anxiety And Depression?

There are very few studies that explore the link between caryophyllene and anxiety, but the ones that do exist show encouraging results. As mentioned above, our brain’s CB2 receptors are strongly associated with health and mood. In 2014, a study was done on mice being given beta-caryophyllene where the mice were put through a series of tests. It was found that the mice that were being given beta-caryophyllene excelled at these tests, while the control group did not. This is caused by the unique interactions that caryophyllene had with the CB2 receptors in the mice that are believed to suppress feelings of anxiety or depression.


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CB1 receptors, in regards to marijuana and anxiety, were also shown to have an effect on feelings of depression and, anxiety. According to s study done at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “CB1 receptors in the amygdala, a key emotional hub in the brain involved in regulating anxiety and the fight-or-flight response. [The researchers] also showed in animal models that anxiety increases when the CB1 receptor is blocked by a drug or its gene is deleted.”

This explains why some cannabis strains can relax you, while other strains make you more paranoid. This is because each strain contains a different combination of terpenes and cannabinoids that create varied effects as they react to the receptors in your brain. To make matters more complicated, everyone’s brain reacts differently to substances. More research is needed to truly understand how each terpene affects the brain.

Cannabis Strains high in Caryophyllene

Are you looking for strains with caryophyllene? Try one of the following:

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Super Silver Haze: Super Silver Haze is a widely adored sativa that remains popular today among both recreational and medical users. It’s known for its powerful psychoactive effects and physical sensations. It provides users with a spurt of energy, but not enough for getting things done. This strain is thought-provoking and may be helpful in 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 a hybrid 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. Most 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. It is 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.


Although the research regarding the effects of pure caryophyllene is young, it is a promising step forward for cannabis lovers. It opens up a possibility that perhaps consuming cannabis rich in caryophyllene could have beneficial effects on your health. But until the scientific research regarding the effects of caryophyllene improves, we won’t know for sure.

What is Caryophyllene? Does it Actually Do Anything? was last modified: by