*For a general introduction to terpenes as a whole, check out The Dirt on Terpenes.
Caryophyllene may be a mouthful to say (pronounced “carry-awful-een“ and often referred to as β-caryophyllene), but it’s a mouthful most humans are actually very familiar with – this terpene is responsible for the spicy flavor of pepper. It’s also present in the woody, musky elements of cinnamon, cloves, and rosemary and is approved by the FDA as a dietary cannabinoid, granted GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status.
Peppery Pain Relief
From a medical perspective, caryophyllene is one of the most promising terpenes to explore: it is the only one that has been shown to interact directly with the endocannabinoid system, binding to CB2 receptors. While CB1 receptors tend to be concentrated in the central nervous system resulting in the psychotropic effects of cannabis, CB2 receptors are primarily found in the peripheral nervous system. This means that activating the CB2 receptors can address issues like inflammation and chronic pain without the mental euphoria commonly associated with the CB1 receptors. Scientists are studying CB2 receptors closely in connection with a wide range of other conditions including multiple sclerosis, IBD, liver cirrhosis, osteoporosis, cancer, and alcoholism.
Since caryophyllene can bind directly with CB2 receptors, it is also being scrutinized for its therapeutic effects. Studies thus far have shown clear anti-inflammatory effects, making it a common addition to anti-inflammatory topicals and creams. Other studies have suggested that caryophyllene could also exert analgesic, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant effects.
Where to Find Caryophyllene
Caryophyllene-heavy strains are often quite pungent, and include several highly popular cultivars. It’s prominent in many cookie strains — including GSC, Cookies and Cream, and Candyland – as well as bestsellers like Gelato, Original Glue, Sour Diesel.