Terpene Tuesday: Humulene

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Humulene, formerly known as a-caryophyllene, is one of the core cannabis terpenes along with Myrcene, Terpinolene, Limonene, Pinene, Geraniol. Terpene concentration varies from strain to strain, but thanks to these volatile compounds, marijuana retains its distinctive, beloved scent.

Humulene is a very common terpene present in nature. It is responsible for the distinct bouquets and flavors of a number of well-known herbs and products. Beer would simply not be beer without the hoppy taste that humulene gives to the hop plant! It is also the reason that culinary spices such as sage, ginger, and ginseng have their burning bite. It carries a subtle earthy, woody aroma with spicy herbal notes.

The cannabis plant produces Humulene as part of its natural defenses. Many other terpenes and over 100 cannabinoids are produced in the resin of mature flowers acting together as antifungal agents and anti-desiccants, antibiotic, and antibacterials. The same resins inhibit predation from insect pests and animals. These are what make the essential oils contained in marijuana so useful.

Humulene is always part of the cannabis terpene profile. Therefore, this prolific oil plays a part in all of the modified genotypes of different strains. Humulene helps distinguish fragrances, recreational effects, and overall therapeutic efficacy. Humulene is a well-researched compound and breeders are endeavouring to produce high humulene strains in effort to up the therapeutic ante of cannabis. In fact, the effectiveness of many herbal medicine is due to their humulene content. Humulene is released when hops are steeped and can be used as an effective sedative. In the same approach, pepper and ginseng (both containing humulene) can be prepared as natural antibiotics.

Humulene can act as an antibacterial agent with the potential to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2003 study showed that humulene, especially when acting in concert with other terpenes and cannabinoids, killed cancer cells. The most recent studies concluded that humulene was as effective of an anti-inflammatory as the steroidal drug dexamethasone. Further still, humulene is frequently invoked as an appetite suppressant, which may lead to more widespread use in the future.


For more information about Humulene, visit Leafly.com.