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What is the terpene Caryophyllene?

What is the terpene Caryophyllene?
May 12, 2024
2 min read

Caryophyllene, also known as β-caryophyllene or BCP is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. It has a woody and spicy aroma of black pepper and occurs widely throughout nature. It is thought to be unique among terpenes due to its direct action at cannabinoid receptors. It has been termed a “dietary cannabinoid” and can be considered to be both a terpene and a cannabinoid. In this article, we aim to cover everything you need to know about the common terpene caryophyllene.

What is the terpene Caryophyllene?

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons found throughout nature which give many plants their characteristic scent. They are partly responsible for the aroma of cannabis and are believed to contribute to its effects. If you would like to learn about terpenes in more detail, check out our article – What are cannabis terpenes?


Caryophyllene and its properties

What does caryophyllene smell like?

β-caryophyllene produces an aroma commonly said to be woody, earthy and spicy, similar to black pepper, lumber, and cloves.

What are the properties of caryophyllene?

Caryophyllene is commonly associated with effects better suited for nighttime. While the effects of terpenes are under-studied, caryophyllene is the terpene with the most scientific understanding behind its pharmacology.

Caryophyllene is currently the only terpene that has been discovered to act directly on cannabinoid receptors. Like CBD, it is a selective CB2 receptor agonist – a type of cannabinoid that is non-psychoactive. This may help explain its subjective similarity to CBD.

 

Where is caryophyllene found in nature?

Caryophyllene is abundant in nature, often occurring alongside the related compound α-humulene (formerly known as α-caryophyllene).

Caryophyllene is found in:

  • Black pepper
  • Cloves
  • Oregano
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Hops
  • Blackcurrant
  • Thyme
  • Spinach
  • Cannabis

 

Which strains have the most Caryophyllene?

In cannabis, β-caryophyllene is the second most commonly found terpene. It is found in high levels in the Emerald Cup’s “Dessert” classification of strains, with a shifting codominance of caryophyllene with limonene. Classic Dessert strains include GSC, Gelato, Cake, and Bubba Kush.

It is also found in the “OGs and Gas” class, with a shifting codominance of limonene, myrcene, and caryophyllene. Classic strains from this class include OG Kush, Chemdawg, Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Glue.

The “Sweets and Dreams” class of cannabis is marked by myrcene dominance with pinene and caryophyllene. Classic strains from this class include Tangie, Cherry AK, Purps, and Blue Dream.

What temperature does caryophyllene vaporise at?

The true boiling point of β-caryophyllene is around 232°C. However, it begins to vaporise at around 130°C.

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What type of terpene is caryophyllene?

Terpenes are grouped according to the number of carbon atoms they contain. Caryophyllene is classed as a sesquiterpene, meaning it contains 3 isoprene units. Sesquiterpenes like caryophyllene are more stable than monoterpenes, and take longer to degrade in samples of aged cannabis.

Why is caryophyllene unique?

Caryophyllene is unique among terpenes due to its structure and pharmacology. It contains a rare cyclobutane ring – (CH2)4 – and an otherwise unique structure for a natural compound. This may help explain why caryophyllene has direct effects at CB2 unlike other terpenes.

 

The rare cyclobutane ring that forms part of the unique structure of β-caryophyllene.

 

What is the difference between a cannabinoid and a terpene?

Cannabinoids and terpenes are related to each other, but differ in their structure, effects, and properties. Both are terpenoids – hydrocarbons made up of chemical units called isoprene.

Cannabinoids like THC are terpenoids that act on cannabinoid (CB) receptors in the body.

Terpenes are terpenoids that function as aroma compounds and do not act on cannabinoid receptors (except caryophyllene). These terms are often used interchangeably, but terpenes contain only carbon and hydrogen, whereas terpenoids contain oxygen atoms and other functional groups.

If you would like more information on the terpenes present in your flower, you may be able to find the CoA (Certificate of Analysis) on Catalyst or Canna Reviews. If you have any questions about the health effects of caryophyllene, be sure to ask your prescriber.

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Disclaimer

Please note that this blog was not written by a licensed medical practitioner and therefore is not providing medical advice. We do not endorse the use of cannabis or any other illicit drugs. Like any medication, cannabis has potential negative side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. For the latest information on cannabis prescription and use, please visit the TGA website. If you are considering cannabis as a treatment option, we encourage you to consult with a licensed healthcare professional.

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