What Is Beta-Caryophyllene?

Terpenes are all around us: whenever you smell a flower, its aroma is due to terpenes. Terpenes have been categorized according to their scent and a lot of them have been studied for their potential healing effect.

The cannabis plant contains terpenes along with cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and many other compounds. While CBD and THC are the most researched cannabinoids and have been examined for their potential to help with several conditions, terpenes like beta-caryophyllene are less well understood.

This article describes what we do know.


What Is Beta-Caryophyllene and How May It Benefit You?

In hemp, terpenes are produced in the same glands that give us CBD, THC, and all the other cannabinoids. More than 100 terpenes in the cannabis plant give cannabis its distinctive aroma.

Among these numerous terpenes, one of the most commonly found in hemp is beta-caryophyllene. You may recognize it from plants and herbs as diverse as basil, clove, pepper, cinnamon, and rosemary: their common aroma is due to beta-caryophyllene.

As more is understood about the beneficial potential of beta-caryophyllene, many CBD products include this terpene in their composition.


What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in numerous plants. These aromatic compounds can be found in pretty much every plant, from menthol, lavender, and mango to flowers, spices, fruit, and vegetables.

Terpenes are the reason why plants have scents and aromas. Whenever you smell a plant or flower, you are experiencing the effect of terpenes. You can think of terpenes as fragrant oils that give each plant its distinctive aroma and spread its scent.

There are hundreds of terpenes, each with its specific aroma. Examples of terpenes include pinene, the smell of pine trees; limonene, the smell of citrus; linalool, the smell of lavender, and beta-caryophyllene.


What Is the Purpose of Terpenes?

Terpenes developed over thousands of years. As with everything that nature creates, they play a specific part in helping the plant survive. Their quantity in the plant depends on several factors, including the stage of the plant’s development, the climate it grows, the general weather, the age of the plant, and the soil type.

Terpenes even depend on the time of the day—probably due to the variation in heat and sunshine: a flower you cut during midday will have different levels of terpenes than if you cut it at dawn or dusk. That is why a rose will smell different at dawn and at dusk, and jasmine smells stronger at night.

Depending on the plant and climatic conditions, terpenes developed as a way to protect the plants from predators and unwanted visitors such as bugs and insects.
Terpenes also help with pollination, as the scent attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Terpenes are also thought to be beneficial in plant development and in helping plants heal after damage.

In the case of beta-caryophyllene, studies suggest that its evolutionary function may be due to its ability to drive away dangerous insects by attracting green lacewings that eat them.


What Is Beta-Caryophyllene?

Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene found abundantly in hemp. Beta-caryophyllene is also found in basil, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and rosemary.

Unlike other terpenes, research suggests that beta-caryophyllene interacts with receptors of our endocannabinoid system. Specifically, beta-caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors in the human endocannabinoid system and acts as a cannabinoid.

A 2008 study established the link between beta-caryophyllene and the CB2 receptors by providing evidence that “this natural product exerts cannabimimetic effects in vivo.” The study discovered that beta-caryophyllene exhibited anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity at the lowest dose in experiments. However, this effect disappeared when researchers administered beta-caryophyllene to mice with no CB2 receptors (Gertsch, 2008).

This matters—a lot. Beta-caryophyllene acts as a CB2 agonist; i.e. it amplifies the effect of CB2. CB2 agonists are not psychoactive, therefore beta-caryophyllene offers great promise as a therapeutic compound, whether systemically, or in dermatological applications such as contact dermatitis (Karsak et al., 2007).


How May Beta-Caryophyllene Help You?

While it’s still too early to determine dosology or administer beta-caryophyllene as a treatment for specific conditions, several studies suggest it has potentially helpful applications in areas as diverse as pain management, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and cholesterol management.


Beta-Caryophyllene for Pain and Inflammation

Initial trials are showing that beta-caryophyllene provides pain relief and reduces inflammation by activating the relevant receptors in our bodies.
A 2014 study on mice showed that beta-caryophyllene “may be highly effective in the treatment of long lasting, debilitating pain.”

Similarly, a 2019 study showed that beta-caryophyllene associated with DHA presented anti-inflammatory activity against two different models of acute inflammation and infection. A further 2013 study supported the view that beta-caryophyllene had anti-nociception qualities, i.e. it can block painful signals from specialized sensory receptors in the peripheral nervous system called nociceptors.

Beta-caryophyllene is anti-inflammatory via PGE-1, comparable in potency to the toxic phenylbutazone (Basile et al., 1988). In studies, it was as effective as etodolac and indomethacin (Ozturk and Ozbek, 2005). In contrast to the latter agents, however, caryophyllene protected the stomach from ulcers and, indeed, has been used in the UK to treat duodenal ulcers (Tambe et al., 1996).


Beta-Caryophyllene for Anxiety and Depression

Further research has shown that beta-caryophyllene may have the potential to help with anxiety and depression. A 2014 study concluded that the possibility that “beta-caryophyllene may ameliorate the symptoms of these mood disorders offers exciting prospects for future studies.”


Beta-Caryophyllene for Infections

Beta-caryophyllene could be helpful with infections. Hemp seems to use it to protect itself from microbes and the effect seems to extend to humans. A beta-caryophyllene-rich plant displayed strong antimicrobial features during a 2006 study.

Results in a 2015 study showed that “beta-caryophyllene demonstrated selective antibacterial activity against S. aureus and more pronounced anti-fungal activity than kanamycin.” Since kanamycin’s side-effects include pain, skin rash, hives, allergic reaction, headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting, beta-caryophyllene may be a better alternative to it.


Beta-Caryophyllene for Cholesterol

A study undertaken in 2018 showed that beta-caryophyllene plays an effective role in lowering TC and LDL levels, increasing HDL levels, and reducing liver fat accumulation.
The study concluded that “beta-caryophyllene may be further examined as a useful therapeutic drug in treating hypercholesterolemia and fatty liver disease.”


Beta-Caryophyllene and the Entourage Effect

The hemp plant contains much more than just CBD. It contains many terpenes and hundreds of other cannabinoids, most of which are still under study to understand their function. So far, studies have identified at least 113 cannabinoids and more than 100 terpenes.

Exploration into the world of terpenes has shown that, when they are given alongside CBD, the effect of both compounds increases. This is called the entourage effect.
However, not all CBD products offer the entourage effect.


What Are the Various CBD Products?

There are many CBD products on shelves and consumers should be aware of the differences between them.

  • Full-spectrum CBD contains CBD along with all the terpenes, including beta-caryophyllene, as well as flavonoids and other cannabinoids. Full-spectrum CBD contains traces of THC which, by law, needs to be under 0.3%.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD is full-spectrum CBD without any traces of THC. While, in theory, broad-spectrum CBD contains all other compounds, in practice, several compounds and terpenes are often removed along with THC.
  • Finally, CBD isolate contains nothing but CBD. It is the purest form of CBD and contains no other flavonoids, cannabinoids, terpenes, or other compounds.


What Is the Entourage Effect?

When consuming full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD, consumers enjoy more benefits of the hemp plant, as their CBD includes flavonoids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids.

The synergy of all of these compounds boosts CBD’s effectiveness, with these compounds working with each other to increase the overall potential.

Research suggests that CBD with beta-caryophyllene may be more effective in helping with issues such as anxiety, depression, or inflammation because beta-caryophyllene helps CBD bind more effectively to CB2 receptors.

As Ethan Russo concluded in a 2008 study, “cannabis chemotypes rich in ameliorative phytocannabinoid and terpenoid content offer complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and broaden clinical applications and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts.”


Storing Your Beta-Caryophyllene

The levels of terpenes in hemp start decreasing after harvest. They decrease even faster if CBD is not stored properly. A cool and dry place is the best place to store your CBD. Also, it is best to purchase smaller quantities rather than larger ones which will require storage: they might lose potency over time.


Beta-Caryophyllene Is a Promising Terpene

As studies on CBD are multiplying, researchers are investigating how cannabinoids and terpenes interact between them.

Beta-caryophyllene is a special terpene because it interacts with our endocannabinoid system. This is why it has been characterized as a dietary cannabinoid. Initial studies have shown promising results in terms of reducing liver fat and possessing anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antimicrobial potential.

While CBD with beta-caryophyllene has been shown to be more effective, we are waiting for further studies to fully explore this potential.

Find out how FluxxLab™’s products with CBD and CBDA can improve your life!