Caryophyllene: The Science Behind Cannabis Terpene, Effects, Benefits

Key Takeaways:

  1. Caryophyllene’s Versatility: Found in common spices like black pepper and cinnamon, caryophyllene offers diverse therapeutic benefits and rich flavor profiles.
  2. Synergistic Effects: When combined with other terpenes and cannabinoids, caryophyllene’s therapeutic effects are amplified, known as the entourage effect.
  3. Unique Therapeutic Properties: Caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors, offering anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and gastrointestinal health benefits, enhancing overall well-being.
  4. Integration into Wellness: Caryophyllene can be incorporated into aromatherapy, topical products, dietary intake, and cannabis consumption, offering personalized wellness benefits.
  5. Presence in Cannabis: Many cannabis strains contain significant levels of caryophyllene, contributing to their flavors and therapeutic potential, such as Sour Diesel, Wedding Cake, and Gelato.
  6. Understanding Natural Remedies: Exploring terpenes like caryophyllene provides insight into the holistic benefits of natural compounds, empowering individuals to optimize their well-being naturally.


Terpenes are essentially natural building blocks and have been used for many different purposes by humans and plants over millennia. In nature they are used as defence mechanisms, communication, growth regulation and much more including what humans use them for.

Uses for terpenes in human life are vast. They are found in everything from herbs, spices and essential oils, to modern extractions of rubber and steroids – terpenes have an enormous role in all walks of life. Cannabis, with modern breeding techniques, acts as a canvas for humans to optimise terpene production and consumption.

Terpenes have been a significant part of medical and culinary practices since ancient times. Substances with high concentrations of terpenes were highly revered for their health giving qualities and flavours. In fact, intercontinental trade routes fuelled by the spice trade owes its existence to terpenes. Spices like cinnamon, pepper and cloves wouldn’t have been very valuable without them. 

While there is a spectrum of terpenes wherever they occur, these three spices in particular all share the very important terpene: Beta-Caryophyllene. Commonly pronounced without the ‘beta’ as “carry-oh fi-lean” or “carry-off-a-lean” depending on the speaker’s preference. This terpene is responsible for the earthy spicy peppery taste that some cannabis cultivars possess and has many health benefits. Caryophyllene is also a unique terpene in that it binds with the CB2 as endocannabinoid receptors, like cannabinoids such as THC or CBD. This means it is stronger and more therapeutic than most terpenes, but is still made more powerful with the entourage effect. This is the name given to the mutually enhancing effect  a spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids have on each other. 

This article will look at where caryophyllene is found in nature and cannabis and examine the potential health benefits for incorporating this special compound into your life.

Caryophyllene in Plant life

Beta-Caryophyllene, is found in many herbs and spices that are native all over the world. Black pepper, cinnamon, basil, hops, lavender, rosemary and many more species of plant. It’s relevant to note that these plants, like cannabis, contain a mixture of terpenes most of the time. They produce their own entourage effect when implemented into your diet or wellness practices. 

Alpha-caryophyllene, also known as humulene, is another terpene common to cannabis and can also be found in hops, sage and tea plants like gin-seng. Hops is a close relative to the cannabis plant and are an important ingredient in the production of beer. Humulene does not bind to CB2 receptors like its counterpart, but it is an anti-inflammatory and antitumor agent in its own right. 

Beta-Caryophyllene has a rich spicy earthy aroma and flavour. It could be described as woody, or peppery and even “clovy”. It’s warm and comforting in aroma and effect. 

These herbs and spices and their trade have been extremely valuable for humans for thousands of years. In slightly more recent centuries, these spices began to reach European markets and became a symbol of wealth and power. Experiencing the therapeutic effects of caryophyllene via exotic spices was seen as the height of privilege in Europe in the 16th century. 

This novelty eventually eventually subsided as the prices went down and the market developed. This led to the mass normalisation of these exotic spices, a stand out example is black pepper being now a world wide counterpart to salt when it was once an exotic rarity to most of Europe.

Spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg were very sought after commodities for early European settlers in North America. Many of them were not so familiar with the culinary and herbal arts of the locals. This phenomenon lives on in the flavour profile of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie – cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg: a lot of caryophyllene!

Caryophyllene in The Body

It has been found that all terpenes bind to the CB1 receptors at about 10-50% the rate of THC alone. CB1 is the part of our endocannabinoid system which is associated with regulating mood, pain and appetite among other things. Caryophyllene is unique in that it is the only terpene we currently know of that binds to the CB2 receptors. These receptors help maintain homeostasis in all our internal organs, the immune system and cardiovascular system. 

This means caryophyllene is one of the most therapeutic terpenes in nature and can help significantly with anxiety, inflammation, pain and the immune system. It also displays anti-oxidant and neuro protector attributes. 

Using products containing caryophyllene makes receiving all these health benefits possible without any side effects. This is not the case when compared with pharmaceutical medication, suggesting terpene and cannabinoid based wellness is better for long term care. 

There are also gastro-intestinal health benefits to caryophyllene. It shields the delicate mucosal lining of the intestines reducing the risk of inflammation or injury. Therefore all food and cannabis extracts containing caryophyllene can improve our overall gut health and help conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

When caryophyllene is paired with CBD,  it produces a strong entourage effect that creates significant advances to epilepsy medication when compared to pure CBD. Caryophyllene binds to the calcium and potassium ion channels in the brain that regulate the excitability of neurons – simply it helps calm the brain down.

Ref: vid, article, study.

Beta-Caryophyllene in Cannabis Flower

Caryophyllene is very common across a huge range of cultivars. It is found in indica and sativa landraces and many hybrids, all in differing amounts. Caryophyllene’s spicy flavour creates more sour and rich flavour profiles in cannabis cultivars.

Sour Diesel, a very popular sativa-hybrid strain high in caryophyllene, and moderate THC content with a distinctive “gassy” like aroma. There is a sharp spiciness to the smell that also contains some myrcene which has a herbal taste and relaxing and limonene that is citrusy and uplifting. Sour Diesel is pungent and fast acting with an energising and talkative effect, also helping with anxiety and stress.

Wedding Cake, an indica-hybrid, is known for having high THC and caryophyllene giving it a relaxing, calming and euphoric effect. It has a rich and tangy flavour profile, with earthy peppery notes. It can help with insomnia and appetite loss and chronic pain. Wedding cake contains similar terpenes to sour diesel so its higher THC makes it more sedative.

Gelato, an evenly balanced hybrid cultivar, also has high levels of caryophyllene. It’s known for its calming euphoria and mellow experience. It has a warm earthy yet fruity and creamy flavour profile with hints of vanilla. It can also be a great relief from insomnia and chronic pain and fatigue. Gelato contains limonene giving it citrus notes, as well as humulene, or alpha-caryophyllene, which tastes hoppy giving the earthy notes. 

Ref: Leafly

Integrating Beta-Caryophyllene into Your Wellness Routine

Terpenes and cannabinoids alike can be implemented into our holistic wellness optimisation program in a myriad of ways. Now that cannabis has lost some of it’s criminality, the truth behind the power of the plant is beginning to reveal itself to us. The terpenes within cannabis are exactly the same terpenes we traded for millenia and still trade to this day, it’s next to the salt on our tables. Spices trade for very similar reasons as trading cannabis, holistic wellness and increased enjoyment of life. 

Caryophyllene can be enjoyed via aroma therapy through pure isolated ointments to experience the pure rich earthy aromas and receive the calming and therapeutic effects of the terpene. Consumers can also mix this with other essential oils to create the perfect entourage effect optimised for your needs. 

Topical ointments are also common wellness products often containing terpenes. Caryophyllene can be found in products like essential oil stress rollers. These usually have a mix of natural compounds creating their own entourage effect. 

Diet is an amazing way to consume caryophyllene because it is found in so many delicious foods. You can go be minimal or maxed out as you like, from a little extra pepper to a whole new spice rack and recipes!

Cannabis consumption in moderation can go very well with any wellness routine. Cultivars high in caryophyllene will help with consumption sessions intended for mellowing and rejuvenating.


Caryophyllene, and the rest of the terpenes are an essential part of nature. The spicy rich flavour of caryophyllene is so special to humans we have traded and coveted the plants that contain the special compound for a very long time. Pepper and spice are common all around the world, and people love their therapeutic properties as well as flavour. 

Cannabis has long been a host of this powerful terpene, which acts like a cannabinoid due to its binding to the CB2 receptor. When combined with other terpenes cannabinoids its effects are even more potent via the entourage effect. 

Cultivars with high caryophyllene are treasured for their rich and pungent flavours and their calming, peace giving qualities and general sense of wellbeing. 

Learning about terpenes allows you to blend your cannabis consumption and nutrition seamlessly. The very same health giving compounds in cannabis are found in foods and plants that have not been tainted by stigma. 

This is the clearest path to truly understanding the power of cannabis. The incredible spread of terpenes found in nature are now expertly painted onto the genome of cannabis. Now they can be cultivated with precision to maximise the health and experience of the consumer. 

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