There’s something about the aroma of marijuana that soothes the body and mind. With scents ranging from cheese-like smells to fruity aromas, the cannabis plant often causes consumers to develop a degree of expertise and familiarity with its unique makeup. What’s behind these fragrances that trigger such a connection, you might be wondering? Well, it’s none other than terpenes.
Terpenes are the fragrant essential oils that are found in every flower, plant, and herb, and they are abundant in the cannabis plant. Until recently, terpenes got a lot less research attention compared to the other components of the plant. CBD and THC have been the “hot topics” for years and were thought to be the only parts of the plant that have potential medicinal value. Terpenes were thought only to be responsible for scent and flavor.
However, today we know that terpenes also have medicinal properties and play a part in the entourage effect of cannabis. This means that cannabinoids and terpenes work together to enhance the plant’s therapeutic benefits. In other words, terpenes have the potential to improve the strength of their counterparts.
Beta-caryophyllene is just one out of the more than 100 terpenes that can be found in the cannabis plant. It’s well known for its spiciness and is also found in cloves, black pepper, basil, hops, and rosemary. In this article, we will take a closer look at what beta-caryophyllene is and what value it has to offer.
What is Beta-Caryophyllene?
Beta-caryophyllene – sometimes referred to as just caryophyllene, β-caryophyllene, or BCP – is a peppery, spicy terpene that is found in high concentrations across a variety of herbs and plants. Interestingly, beta-caryophyllene doesn’t only occur naturally, and cannabis is not the only medication that contains it in high enough concentrations to treat medical conditions.
The FDA has listed it under the “generally recognized as safe” classification, which means that it’s considered to be safe to consume in large doses. Β-caryophyllene has gained a lot of attention from scientists over the past decade since it was discovered to be one of the first non-cannabinoids that directly activate the cannabinoid receptors. Therefore cannabis strains that are rich in beta-caryophyllene may have specific medicinal effects because of the effect that the terpene has on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Terpenes like beta-caryophyllene are just one of the compounds that can interact with the ECS. Different terpenes interact with the different cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system to create a wide array of effects that take place when consuming cannabis.
Research has shown that those molecules which selectively target the CB2 receptor of the ECS have the potential to treat depression and anxiety. Beta-caryophyllene is one such molecule.
The Potential Benefits of Beta-Caryophyllene
Some of the potential benefits of Beta-Caryophyllene include pain relief, relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety, slowing the growth of bacteria, and reducing chronic inflammation. Caryophyllene is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects because it binds to the CB2 receptors which are the receptors in the ECS that are responsible for regulating inflammation.
CB2 receptors are found throughout the body in immune tissues and are increased following an injury or brain disease. The activation of these receptors reduces inflammation which helps to lessen pain and also reduces the damaging consequences that chronic inflammation can have on the function of the brain and risk for developing brain diseases.
Furthermore, according to a scientific report published in the Journal about therapeutic potential of B-Caryophyllene, the terpene has shown significant therapeutic promise in treating neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative and, metabolic diseases.
There have even been studies done which have found that Beta-Caryophyllene could reduce alcohol consumption by lessening the addictive effects. This is because it reacts with the CB2 receptors in the brain which influences our reward system.
Beta-Caryophyllene Association with Anxiety and Depression
There are only a few studies that explore the link between caryophyllene and anxiety, but those that do show encouraging results. The reason that it’s thought to have an effect on anxiety has also got to do with the CB2 receptors. The CB2 receptors in the brain have a strong link with overall health and mood.
In 2014, a study was conducted on mice that were put through a series of tests and some of these mice were administered Beta-Caryophyllene. The study found that those mice who were given caryophyllene excelled in the tests, while the control group didn’t. This is due to the unique interactions that the caryophyllene had with the CB2 receptors in those mice that were believed to suppress feelings of depression or anxiety.
Which Cannabis Strains Have the Most Beta-Caryophyllene?
Cannabis strains that contain high levels of beta-caryophyllene span all across the cannabis spectrum. It tends to be an abundant terpene in sativas like Candyland, indicas like Death Star, and hybrid strains like GCS. Interestingly, many strains in the “cookies” family contain high levels of caryophyllene.
Some strains have very similar terpene profiles, even in cases where one is sativa and the other is indica; for example, Candyland (sativa) and Death Star (indica). These two have very similar terpene profiles even though one is a sativa strain and the other an indica. This suggests that the effects of each may not be all that different when compared to strains with a more distinct terpene profile.
This is the reason that knowing whether a strain is indica or sativa is not necessarily a good indicator of the key ingredients that it contains, and thus the effects that it provides. You will need to know the full, lab-tested terpene and cannabinoid profile or a product or strain if you want to know what to expect.
Could Beta-Caryophyllene Be a Future Medicine?
Although research is still in early stages, beta-caryophyllene is showing some promising results when it comes to its medicinal potential. This terpene has opened up the possibility that consuming cannabis that is rich in caryophyllene could have enhanced beneficial effects on one’s health.
This is one of the most well-known terpenes, and it’s not hard to see why. From its mood-boosting capabilities to its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to alleviate anxiety, caryophyllene has the potential to help people with a range of health conditions.