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Exploring the Medicinal Benefits of Caryophyllene

caryophyllene terpene medicinal cannabis

If you visit our blog with any regularity—or you’re a cannabis fan!—you’re probably intimately familiar with cannabinoids, the compounds such as THC and CBD, the major cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. They interact with the Endocannabinoid System, a regulatory network that’s gaining recognition as one of the body’s most vital systems, to impart a whole range of beneficial effects on our wellbeing.

But impactful though they are, cannabinoids aren’t the end of the story. The cannabis plant also harbors a stunning variety of terpenes, the fragrant hydrocarbons—or “essential oils”—that give specific strains of cannabis their distinctive aromas and flavors. And research indicates that the benefits of terpenes don’t end there. They may impart a whole host of possible medicinal properties.

The terpene we’re focusing on today—caryophyllene—is associated with some surprisingly powerful effects. We’ll share a bit of what is currently known about this powerful terpene, along with some forecasts on what future research on caryophyllene may reveal.

caryophyllene terpene medicinal cannabis

What Caryophyllene Does: A Terpene With Many Uses

If you’ve ever noticed a pleasantly spicy and peppery aroma in certain strains of cannabis, there’s a good chance you’re detecting caryophyllene. In addition to occurring in some cannabis strains, caryophyllene is present in many common plants and herbs—including oregano, cloves, and rosemary.

How does caryophyllene interact with our bodies? According to a study published in 2001, it’s believed that terpenes may bind to cannabinoid receptors in our Endocannabinoid System, and may even act on other receptors and neurotransmitters. Some research on mice also suggests that caryophyllene has this direct mode of action, thus increasing analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. A decreased vascular permeability to injected histamine was also observed.

As you may already be aware, inflammation is one of the body’s main “later phase” responses to pain, meaning a recurrence of symptoms after an appreciable interval. The rodent-based study we mention above showed particular promise in part because the results showed no signs of tolerance after prolonged treatment. That may be why—anecdotally at least—many patients report that they have experienced inflammation relief after using high-caryophyllene cannabis strains. Ask your local budtender which strains they recommend.

There’s more: While one study in mice pointed to caryophyllene’s potential in helping combat anxiety and depression, a separate experiment performed in 2014 pointed to a startling new potential use: Helping reduce alcohol dependence. Admittedly, those test subjects were mice, not humans. With all this promise, though, we’re hoping to see lots more human-centric research on treating chronic inflammation with caryophyllene’s pain-fighting ability.

caryophyllene terpene medicinal cannabis

Can Caryophyllene Give Anti-Cancer Drugs a Leg Up?

We’ll start off with the “bad” news: Despite some wild claims to the contrary, there is no evidence that cannabis “cures” cancer. Still, a number of experiments suggest that terpenes may have a role to play in the development of future treatments, and caryophyllene shows particular promise here.

A study in South Korea has suggested, in a controlled lab environment, this terpene’s ability to assist other drugs or spur apoptosis—programmed cell death—in cancer cells. This study observed that caryophyllene contributed to apoptosis in certain cancer cells. These findings could positively impact the development of new anti-cancer medications.

Again, we want to urge restraint here. The pace of medical research is slow by design (and available funding, but that’s another discussion), and it will likely be years until potential terpene-based treatments are tested on human subjects. But stay tuned; needless to say, it’s a story we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

Do you have further thoughts or questions about caryophyllene, or any other terpenes? Don’t hesitate to drop us a line; we’d love to help!

Please note that qualifying conditions vary by state, and the information relating to qualifying conditions may not apply to cannabis patients in all states.

Product availability also varies based on state program restrictions and rules, so the products discussed may not be available in all states. Be sure to check with your local Green Goods location about the products available in your state!