Terpene Profiles: Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene, more formally -β-caryophyllene, is a terpene found in various herbs and spices. Terpenes serve special functions in plants. Caryophyllene is known for its spicy, woody, peppery aroma it gives to cloves and black pepper. This is likely a defensive mechanism to tell animals and insects, “Don’t eat me!” but it happens that humans like the smell. Caryophyllene can also be found in black caraway, cannabis, hops, basil, oregano, lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, and ylang-ylang.

Caryophyllene is the only terpene to be able to directly activate endocannabinoid receptors in the human brain. Caryophyllene has a unique molecular structure which contains a cyclobutane ring, an oddity in nature. Its unique structure allows it to bind to CB2 receptors

A recent study at the Indiana University led by Sachiko Koyama discovered that mice that were given a topical application of caryophyllene and olive oil had enhanced “re-epithelialization”, scab formation and healing. This research suggests that caryophyllene has the potential for therapeutic use, but there is much more to be discovered. 


Koyama, Sachiko & Purk, Anna & Kaur, Manpreet & Soini, Helena & Novotny, Milos & Davis, Keith & Kao, Cheng & Matsunami, Hiroaki & Mescher, Anthony. (2019). Beta-caryophyllene enhances wound healing through multiple routes. PLOS ONE. 14. e0216104. 10.1371/journal.pone.0216104. 


  • Posted by Howard on

    Wow great to see you covering terpenes and their effects! I just recently learned that these terpene compounds in cannabis are the exact same molecules that are found in things like fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices. So for example the reason certain strains of hemp will smell like citrus is because that variety has high amounts of the terpenes called limonene and lemonene, the group of natural chemicals that creates the same aroma in citrus fruits! I also learned recently that if these compounds are isolated they appear to be identical, regardless of the source plant or fruit. I found that very interesting.

    Most people I know (myself included) enjoy the various smell profiles of hemp just as much as all its other qualities. It has always amazed me how many different smell and flavor profiles can be found across the many varieties of cannabis. Another incredible outcome is the combinations! It can make for some very descriptive strain names like Cherry Wine, Pineapple Express, or Jet Fuel.

    Three cheers for Terpenes, the spice of life!

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