Beta caryophyllene: the only terpene with cannabinoid properties

Today we delve into the fascinating world of cannabis aromas to discover beta caryophyllene, a terpene exceptional for being the only one capable of acting as a cannabinoid. This compound is responsible for the special aroma of spices such as cloves and black pepper. Read on to discover surprising facts about how beta caryophyllene enriches your experience with CBD flowers .

What is beta caryophyllene and what effects does this terpene have on cannabis?

Introduction to beta caryophyllene terpene

The aroma of the flowers of CBD Ninja Fruit (Strawberry Kush x Watermelon) greeted the greeted the guests from a wooden bowl placed on the mantelpiece in the entrance hall. “Smells good, doesn’t it?” said one of the friends as they entered the house. “They’re CBD flowers,” the host pointed out, trying to disguise the pampering with which he had arranged them to scent the welcome. “CBD? It looked like marijuana, if you can smell it from the elevator!” the other was surprised.

With the confusion to which appearances sometimes give rise, we begin this post. Because beta caryophyllene is like CBD flowers: they look like one thing, but turn out to be something else. It has the form of a terpene, but it behaves like a cannabinoid.

What is beta caryophyllene?

Beta caryophyllene is one of the most unique terpenes produced by cannabis, because it is the only terpene known to date capable of binding with CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which means that it behaves like a cannabinoid. This is why it can offer benefits absent in other terpenes.

Beta caryophyllene has a spicy and woody, slightly spicy aroma.

Chemistry

Chemically, it is classified as a sesquiterpene, i.e., a terpene with a large molecular shape, composed of three isoprenes of 5 hydrocarbons each, and less volatile than monoterpenes (such as limonene or linalool). That is why it is one of the aromas that remain in the cannabis after the drying and curing process.

But, also, being heavier than other terpenes, it is a more complicated aroma to recognize, since it is not as volatile as other aromas, and therefore does not reach the nose as quickly.

Aroma

This sesquiterpene has a spicy, woody aroma with some herbaceous notes, and how does it smell spicy, you may ask. Let’s just say that identifying beta caryophyllene is not as obvious as tracing limonene or linalool. It is relatively simple to identify a citrus and floral aroma, but an extra olfactory exercise is required to distinguish the aroma of beta caryophyllene.

If following traces of cloves or black pepper (fruits with high levels of beta caryophyllene) doesn’t tell you anything, think about the effect of taking a deep breath near dried black peppercorns. It will automatically clear your nose, won’t it? Well, that is the decongestant effect that occurs when smelling a cannabis strain with high levels of beta caryophyllene.

Where is beta caryophyllene found?

Beta caryophyllene, like all terpenes, is concentrated in the essential oil of plants. In the case of cannabis, beta caryophyllene is found in the trichomes of the trichomes trichomes of the plant, like the other terpenes and cannabinoids. Trichomes are those resinous glands imperceptible to the human eye that form on cannabis buds.

Although the human eye cannot clearly distinguish the shape of these glands, we can intuit them in the white “snow” or crystals that form on the buds, and also in the sticky texture of some flowers. That powdered sugar that pringa our fingers is where the beta caryophyllene is; and also the CBD, the rest of terpenes, and most of the active principles produced by the plant.

CBD flowers rich in beta caryophyllene

Beta-Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene that is very common in all cannabis strains, although it is also found in many other plants. Even if it is not one of the three main terpenes in a genetic, the vast majority of cannabis strains have high or moderate levels of caryophyllene.

You can find a high content of beta caryophyllene in the CBD flowers of the following Cannactiva strains Cannactiva :

Which marijuana strains are rich in beta caryophyllene?

One of the cannabis strains made in Europe par excellence whose main terpene is beta caryophyllene is Original Amnesia, whose levels of this sesquiterpene exceed those of any other terpene present in this genetics. The spicy aroma when smelling a specimen of the Dutch queen sativa is no coincidence.

Across the pond, and flagships of U.S. breeding that has laid the groundwork for future hybrids, beta caryophyllene is a major player in the Cookies and Gelato family. In fact, most strains descended from these cannabis dynasties have high levels of beta caryophyllene. See Sherbet or Weeding Cake.

Already THC-free, as far as CBD flowers are concerned, in the case of the CBD Ninja Fruit and Zkittlez CBD The beta caryophyllene is the terpene with the highest presence, hence the feeling of decongestion when smelling the buds of this variety.

How to identify the aroma of beta caryophyllene in cannabis?

Beta-Caryophyllene is not one of the easiest cannabis terpenes to identify by smell. The sesquiterpene that concerns us in this article will be recognized by those spicy notes that we sometimes notice in some cannabis strains. It is that undertone whose perception requires a deep inhale, which reminds us of black pepper and clears our nostrils.

How to preserve beta caryophyllene in cannabis?

Beta caryophyllene, like other terpenes, is sensitive to heat and other external factors, which can easily cause it to disappear. Specifically, it evaporates at 119 degrees (ºC), well above this temperature, beyond evaporating, it will degrade.

Effects of beta caryophyllene in cannabis

Terpenes in general, and beta caryophyllene in particular, exert effects on our organism. If it was previously thought that the only active ingredients in cannabis were cannabinoids, recent research has revealed that terpenes also have properties to offer.

Beta-Caryophyllene: the terpene with the soul of a cannabinoid

The surprising thing about beta caryophyllene is that it offers double benefits: on the one hand, as a terpene, it gives cannabis a unique aroma and modulates the effect of cannabinoids thanks to the so-called “entourage effect. entourage effect . On the other hand, it acts as a cannabinoid by selectively binding to CB2 receptors, which are found primarily in the immune system.

Until now, the only known compounds capable of activating the endocannabinoid system were cannabinoids, i.e. both those produced by the body itself (the so-called endocannabinoids) and those found in cannabis (phytocannabinoids, such as THC or CBD).

Hence, beta caryophyllene, being also able to communicate with this network of receptors, has caught the attention of many. This terpene binds to CB2 receptors – the same receptors on which cannabidiol (CBD)acts – and can modulate the immune response and reduce inflammation.

Unlike other cannabinoids such as THC, beta caryophyllene does not produce psychotropic effects, because CB2 receptors are not involved in the regulation of cognitive and emotional functions like CB1 receptors.

How beta caryophyllene affects the cannabis experience

Interaction between beta caryophyllene with cannabinoids and terpenes.

The presence of beta caryophyllene in cannabis contributes to the so-called entourage effect, whereby compounds present in the plant, such as terpenes and cannabinoids, work together to modulate and enhance the therapeutic effects of cannabis.

This can result in a more balanced and nuanced experience for the user, enhancing the benefits of cannabinoids, but without increasing their psychotropic potency. Hence, it is often said that using isolated cannabinoids impoverishes the properties that cannabis could offer us.

An example of this is how beta caryophyllene enhances the anti-inflammatory properties of the cannabinoids CBD and THC. By interacting with the CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, beta caryophyllene enhances the anti-inflammatory effects of these cannabinoids.

In the study The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain (1), it was observed that the simultaneous oral administration of CBD and beta caryophyllene shows promising properties to alleviate chronic pain due to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect they produce.

In addition, the entourage effect also includes certain interactions that can occur between terpenes, and not only between terpenes and cannabinoids. In the case of beta caryophyllene, for example, when consumed simultaneously with the terpene humulene, the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of beta caryophyllene are enhanced.

Benefits of beta caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene has enormous therapeutic potential for treating various diseases, mainly those related to inflammation. As a selective activator of the cannabinoid CB2 receptor, beta-caryophyllene offers several benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.

It is important to mention that much of the current research has been carried out in the field of aromatherapy, or in studies related to other plants rich in caryophyllene, such as black pepper.

Anti-inflammatory

On the one hand, beta-caryophyllene offers anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which could be useful in treating inflammatory conditions and chronic pain (2, 3). It should be noted that, although other terpenes are also anti-inflammatory, what makes this one unique is that it acts through different signaling pathways, those of the endocannabinoid system.

Improved sleep quality

The effects of cannabis on sleep have been reviewed (4), and it has been found that terpenes, in addition to reducing insomnia symptoms and inducing sleep, improve sleep quality.

In this sense, and according to current research, caryophyllene, linalool and myrcene offer analgesic, anxiolytic or sedative effects (5), and may complement the sleeping properties of other terpenes and cannabinoids.

To stop addictions

Studies have also been carried out on terpenes as addiction cessation supplements. For example, there is a clinical trial in which 48 cigarette smokers inhaled black pepper vapor (very rich in beta-caryophyllene, naturally), a mixture of peppermint and menthol, or a placebo. It turned out that vaping black pepper significantly reduced nicotine craving, an effect attributed to irritation of the bronchial tree, simulating the act of smoking cigarettes, but without nicotine or actual burning of the material (6).

This suggested that black pepper, because of its high beta-caryophyllene content, might have potential in the treatment of addictions. In more modern studies, beta-caryophyllene has been tested with good preliminary results for cocaine (7) and food addiction (8).

Other benefits described

It also has potential benefits against anxiety and depression (9) and has been used as a gastric cytoprotector (10).

Medical Cannabis

The benefits of beta caryophyllene are a growing area of interest in the world of medical cannabis. medical cannabis . The fact of being able to combine the aforementioned properties with the effects of cannabis opens up a wide range of possibilities in the improvement and enhancement of this type of treatment. As research progresses and more studies are conducted focusing on beta caryophyllene in the context of cannabis, it is likely that even more applications will be discovered.

We hope you have found this exhaustive tour of the properties of beta caryophyllene interesting, and that you will remember it in your next cannabis experience.

Referencias
  1. Fine PG, Rosenfeld MJ. The endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and pain. Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2013 Oct 29;4(4):e0022. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10129. PMID: 24228165; PMCID: PMC3820295.
  2. Horváth B, Mukhopadhyay P, Kechrid M, Patel V, Tanchian G, Wink DA, Gertsch J, Pacher P. β-Caryophyllene ameliorates cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in a cannabinoid 2 receptor-dependent manner. Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Apr 15;52(8):1325-33. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.01.014. Epub 2012 Jan 31. PMID: 22326488; PMCID: PMC3312970.
  3. Gertsch J, Leonti M, Raduner S, Racz I, Chen JZ, Xie XQ, Altmann KH, Karsak M, Zimmer A. Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jul 1;105(26):9099-104. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0803601105. Epub 2008 Jun 23. PMID: 18574142; PMCID: PMC2449371.
  4. Russo EB, Guy GW, Robson PJ. Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine. Chem Biodivers. 2007 Aug;4(8):1729-43. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.200790150. PMID: 17712817.
  5. Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1344-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x. PMID: 21749363; PMCID: PMC3165946.
  6. Rose, J. E., Behm, F. M., Westman, E. C., & Johnson, M. (1994). Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 34(3), 225-229.
  7. Galaj E, Bi GH, Moore A, Chen K, He Y, Gardner E, Xi ZX. Beta-caryophyllene inhibits cocaine addiction-related behavior by activation of PPARα and PPARγ: repurposing a FDA-approved food additive for cocaine use disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021 Mar;46(4):860-870. doi: 10.1038/s41386-020-00885-4. Epub 2020 Oct 17. PMID: 33069159; PMCID: PMC8026612.
  8. Alizadeh S, Djafarian K, Mofidi Nejad M, Yekaninejad MS, Javanbakht MH. The effect of β-caryophyllene on food addiction and its related behaviors: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Appetite. 2022 Nov 1;178:106160. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2022.106160. Epub 2022 Jul 6. PMID: 35809704.
  9. Bahi A, Al Mansouri S, Al Memari E, Al Ameri M, Nurulain SM, Ojha S. β-Caryophyllene, a CB2 receptor agonist produces multiple behavioral changes relevant to anxiety and depression in mice. Physiol Behav. 2014 Aug;135:119-24. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 13. PMID: 24930711.
  10. Tambe Y, Tsujiuchi H, Honda G, Ikeshiro Y, Tanaka S. Gastric cytoprotection of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene, beta-caryophyllene. Plant Med. 1996 Oct;62(5):469-70. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-957942. PMID: 9005452.

Which plants are rich in beta caryophyllene?

Leaving aside the world of cannabis, at the top of the list of plants richest in this compound is the cadillo or mozote (Bidens pilosa), an anti-inflammatory medicinal plant native to South and Central America. Next, there is clove, a warm and penetrating aromatic spice, also with analgesic properties and, in third place, there is black pepper, which needs no description. As can be seen, plants rich in caryophyllene are all very unique. We also find high levels of beta caryophyllene in these plants (in order of highest to lowest content): Perilla frutescens, rosemary, Centella asiatica, angelica (Angelica archangelica), oregano and chasteberry, among others. In addition, cinnamon, hops and sage also produce this sesquiterpene.

Jásminka Romanos
Periodista especializada en comunicación para el sector del cannabis

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