The very best top shelf-cannabis is nuanced. To cultivate a truly artisanal strain, you need more than just skyscraper levels of THC or CBD. It needs rich skunky smells, a sweet fruity taste, and a perfectly manicured appearance to stand out in an oversaturated legal market and demand top-quality prices.
As expert cannabis cultivators move away from simply one-upping each other in terms of potency, focusing instead on a more balanced product with an overall satisfying experience, terpenes become even more important in the industry. Today, we’ll take a look at one of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis—beta-caryophyllene (sometimes stylized as just caryophyllene). Keep reading to learn more about this spicy molecule and what it does when it’s in your weed.
What Are Terpenes?
You’ve likely seen terpenes listed on the back of your cannabis packaging or heard mention of them from a budtender, but what are they exactly?
Terpenes are aromatic molecules responsible for creating the recognizable odor associated with cannabis. Different terpenes come together, like the fruity limonene and earthy pinene, to produce the symphony of fragrances that play in your nose the moment you open your stash.
Terpenes aren’t exclusive to cannabis. In fact, they’re in all plants. Originally, terpenes developed as an evolutionary quirk. Bitter terpenes helped ward off potential herbivorous predators, while saccharine terpenes attracted pollinators, but it doesn’t stop there.
Recent research suggests that cannabis terpenes could have medicinal and therapeutic applications in humans, as well as contribute to the effects of cannabinoids themselves in a process called the entourage effect.
What Is Beta-Caryophyllene?
The cannabis plant is absolutely teeming with terpenes, much more so than your average flower or herb. It’s why the plant’s infamous aroma is so complex. Over 150 different terpenes have been discovered in the numerous strains of cannabis, but there are a few standouts that appear with far more frequency and in higher percentages.
Beta-caryophyllene falls into this category of common cannabis terpenes, but don’t let that fool you; just because beta-caryophyllene isn’t rare doesn’t mean it’s not a special compound. Its hot musky odor can be found in black pepper, cloves, rosemary, and even hops. Without it, much of our cuisine would lose that little extra pop.
Caryophyllene does more than contribute to the aromatic profiles of your favorite herbs and spices; it’s also the first non-cannabinoid compound discovered to directly activate the cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system.
Exactly, what does Beta-Caryophyllene do, and what benefits does it have on cannabis strains?
Preliminary research suggests that many different terpenes possess anti-inflammatory qualities. However, because of the way it activates cannabinoid receptors, specifically CB2 receptors, the anti-inflammatory beta-caryophyllene effects may be more pronounced.
Activating CB2 receptors the way caryophyllene does can also produce analgesia and pain-relieving effects. One study using animal models found that rodents injected with beta-caryophyllene experienced a demonstrable reduction in pain compared to the mice who didn’t receive the terpene.
Other potential medicinal benefits of beta-caryophyllene include neuroprotective and anti-cancer properties.
How To Get Beta-Caryophyllene
If you’re looking for cannabis with large amounts of caryophyllene, then you’re in luck. As previously stated, the common terpene is often abundantly present in cannabis. Here are some popular strains that tend to have high caryophyllene contents:
- Sour Diesel
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Original Glue
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