Terpene Tuesday Spotlight: Beta-caryophyllene

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Terpenes appear all throughout nature within different plant species. These molecules are produced by trichomes, the same glands containing cannabinoids on the surface of cannabis leaves and flowers.

Terpenes are essentially fragrant oils that give strains of cannabis different tastes and smells. In addition to providing aroma and flavor to cannabis varieties, they also play a fundamental role in your treatment. Numerous terpenes found within the cannabis plant have been shown to offer profound medicinal properties. Last week we looked at the terpene Myrcene. This week, we spotlight Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) for Terpene Tuesday. Beta-caryophyllene is the only terpene so far known to directly target endocannabinoid receptors.

BCP is found in numerous plants throughout nature, including hops, black pepper, rosemary, and cannabis. BCP stands out from other terpenes found in cannabis, because it also plays the role of a cannabinoid, too. Beta-Caryophyllene is the only terpene so far known to directly target endocannabinoid receptors.

The main cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids, like THC, can activate both of these receptor sites, whereas CBD mainly interacts with CB2 receptors. The terpene Beta-caryophyllene can directly target the CB2 receptor, similar to CBD, making it a unique terpene with cannabinoid-like abilities.

The interaction of Beta-caryophyllene with CB2 receptors in our bodies can yield a multitude of medicinal benefits such as:

Pain Relief

CB2 receptors have been shown to be critically involved in the modulation of inflammatory and neuropathic pain responses. A 2014 paper published within the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology showed that orally-administered BCP reduced inflammatory pain responses and also reduced spinal neuroinflammation. The authors of the study concluded that BCP may be significantly effective in the treatment of long-lasting and debilitating pain states.

Anxiety and Depression

Another study conducted shows the potential of BCP as a treatment for anxiety and depression. The paper, published within the Journal of Physiology and Behavior discusses the role of CB2 receptors in anxiety and depression disorders. In this study, BCP is proposed as a novel compound that has beneficial pharmacological effects over existing benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They tested the effects of BCP related to conditions of stress and anxiety, demonstrating for the first time that BCP is indeed effective at producing anxiolytic and anti-depressive effects.

These studies concluded the effects that CB2 receptor have within our bodies and that the Beta-Caryophyllene terpene can act as a cannabinoid, activating the CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system.