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Terpenes 101 - Understanding the Characteristics of Cannabis

Cannabis 101: Let’s Talk Terpenes

Find your ideal feel by learning your preferred terpene profile. Terpenes are the special compounds in cannabis plants that give each strain its unique aroma and taste.Terpenes also provide well-documented health benefits. They work together with cannabinoids like THC, the ingredient that can make people feel high, to create different effects. When you understand the unique terpene profiles of various strains, it's easier to choose the kind of weed that works best for you.

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More than a high: how terpenes can promote positive health outcomes

Great news! There are over 120 terpenes in cannabis that promote health benefits. How, you ask? Terpenes interact with cannabinoid receptors in your body to create different effects, depending on the strain: reducing inflammation, euphoria, or even pain reduction. Some receptors, known as CB1 receptors, are located in your brain and central nervous system. When THC is ingested, it primarily binds to CB1, producing a euphoric effect.

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Other receptors, CB2 receptors, are found on cells in your immune system. These receptors help your body respond to things like pain and inflammation. Each strain has a unique terpene profile that affects how it interacts with your receptors. So, the combination of terpenes in a strain can change the way you feel during a high, help your body fight inflammation, reduce pain, or just make you feel better.

Beta-Caryophyllene, your new best friend

The most common terpene found in cannabis (or sesquiterpene if you want to sound even smarter) is Beta-Caryophyllene, or β-Caryophyllene. Beta-Caryophyllene is unique because it interacts with CB2 receptors in your immune system, to help lower inflammation and create a sense of well-being. Beta-Caryophyllene also has a distinct scent profile, a spicy and peppery aroma that makes some cannabis strains smell warm and inviting. Nice, right?

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What Are Terpenes

Let’s Talk Strains

More great news. You’ve got lots of options when it comes to β-Caryophyllene-rich strains. Whether you want to relax, reduce anxiety, treat pain, or reduce inflammation, many of these strains have the peppery, spicy aroma that defines most Beta-Caryophyllene infused cultivars, including: 

  • Pineapple Express 
  • Pink Lemonade 
  • Sour Diesel 
  • Sherbet 
  • GSC 
  • Chem Dawg 
  • Do Si Dos 
  • Crescendo 
  • Dutch Hawaiian 
  • Gorilla Grapes 
  • Mandarin Dream 
  • Paradise Waits 
  • Poison Fruit 
  • Vizcaya 

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The Entourage Effect: How Beta-Caryophyllene interacts with other Cannabinoids  

When terpenes team up with THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in the body, good things happen. Together, the compounds modify one another and can create an overall stronger impact on your health. It’s a classic “the whole is great than the sum of its parts” deal. (Russo, 2011). 

THC + Beta-Caryophyllene can help prevent and treat gastric issues. Plus, beta-caryophyllene has been shown to counteract THC's psychoactive effects, which can be helpful on those occasions when too much THC has been consumed. 

CBD + Beta-Caryophyllene can be a potential adjunctive treatment for substance abuse/addiction.

Humulene + Beta-Caryophyllene can help reduce inflammation, making it an excellent option for treating arthritis, bursitis, and fibromyalgia. 

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Beta-Caryophyllene as a treatment:  

In addition to its ability to reduce pain and inflammation, Beta-caryophyllene has potent antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant capabilities. It can help reduce anxiety, lower cholesterol, prevent Osteoporosis, and treat seizures. Some studies even suggest that it might help fight neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Beta-Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene helps lessen swelling in the brain and lowers the harmful chemicals linked to inflammation, which can cause damage to our body's cells. (Javed, Azimullah, Haque, & Ojha, 2016). These properties can reduce gut inflammation and even relieve the brain from swelling during a stroke to improve outcomes. (Cho JY; Chang HJ; Lee SK; Kim HJ; Hwang JK; Chun HS;) 

Antibacterial & Antimicrobial Properties of Beta-Caryophyllene 

Recent studies indicate that beta-caryophyllene helps fight bacterial plaque build-up in teeth. (Pieri FA; Souza MC; Vermelho LL; Vermelho ML; Perciano PG; Vargas FS; Borges AP; da Veiga-Junior VF; Moreira MA;), and makes it a potential alternative to typically prescribed medications like chlorhexidine. Also, it reduces microorganisms like Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza, and E. coli (Swamy, Akhtar, & Sinniah, 2016). 

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Beta-Caryophyllene and Osteoporosis: 

Studies suggest β-caryophyllene can help prevent and treat Osteoporosis. Scientists believe Beta-Caryophyllene helps make bones stronger by building them up and slowing down the process of bones breaking down. (adipogenesis and osteoclastogenesis) (Yamaguchi & Levy, 2016). 

Beta-Caryophyllene and Cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis: 

A study from 2007 found that a cancer-fighting drug called paclitaxel was ten times more active in fighting colon cancer cells when it was paired with Beta-caryophyllene. When Beta-caryophyllene was combined with two other substances, it also helped fight cancer in human cells. Plus, it can help lessen inflammation related to multiple sclerosis and immune disorders. (Dias, Fontes, Crotti, Aarestrup, & Aarestrup, 2014). 

Beta-Caryophyllene and pain: 

Beta-caryophyllene may help lower pain linked to the nervous system and work as a pain reliever in creams and ointments, similar to a local anesthetic (Russo, 2011). It can make your body release endorphins, similar to morphine, without causing addiction. (Katsuyama S; Mizoguchi H; Kuwahata H; Komatsu T; Nagaoka K; Nakamura H; Bagetta G; Sakurada T; Sakurada S;) 

**Note: As always, with medical conditions and symptoms, please consult with your doctor for personalized medical advice. The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the statements made regarding these products. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.   

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Mediavilla V, Steinemann S. Essential oil of Cannabis sativa L. strains. J Intl Hemp Assoc. 1997;4:82–84. 

Legault, J., Pichet, A. (2007) Potentiating effect of beta-caryophyllene on anticancer activity of alpha-humulene, is caryophyllene, and paclitaxel. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 59(12):1643-7. 

Russo, E.B. (2011, August). Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid - terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology. 163: 1351. 

Javed, H., Azimullah, S., Haque, M., & Ojha, S. (2016, August 2). Cannabinoid Type 2 (CB2) Receptors Activation Protects against Oxidative Stress and Neuroinflammation Associated Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration in Rotenone Model of Parkinson's Disease. Retrieved from 

Cho JY; Chang HJ; Lee SK; Kim HJ; Hwang JK; Chun HS; (n.d.). Amelioration of dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice by oral administration of beta-caryophyllene, a sesquiterpene. Retrieved from 

Pieri FA;Souza MC;Vermelho LL;Vermelho ML;Perciano PG;Vargas FS;Borges AP;da Veiga-Junior VF;Moreira MA;. (n.d.). Use of β-caryophyllene to combat bacterial dental plaque formation in dogs. Retrieved from 

Swamy, M., Akhtar, M., & Sinniah, U. (2016). Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review. Retrieved from 

Yamaguchi, M., & Levy, R. (2016, December). β-Caryophyllene promotes osteoblastic mineralization and suppresses osteoclastogenesis and adipogenesis in mouse bone marrow cultures in vitro., from 

Dias, D., Fontes, L., Crotti, A., Aarestrup, B., & Aarestrup, F. (2014, August 21). Copaiba Oil Suppresses Inflammatory Cytokines in Splenocytes of C57Bl/6 Mice Induced with Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE). Retrieved November 09, 2020, from 

Katsuyama S; Mizoguchi H; Kuwahata H; Komatsu T; Nagaoka K; Nakamura H; Bagetta G; Sakurada T; Sakurada S. (n.d.). Involvement of peripheral cannabinoid and opioid receptors in β-caryophyllene-induced antinociception., from