When the pungent, sweet, natural aromas of cannabis drift through the air, we all know what it means. Sometimes the scent is earthy and dank. Other times it has a sharper, citrus edge.
Either way, the smell of cannabis has a distinct place in our culture. And that’s all because of small but important compounds called terpenes.
What Are Terpenes?
During your cannabis dispensary adventures, you might have heard people talking about the terpenes in their chosen strain. But what are these mystery substances, and how do they vary between strains of cannabis?
Terpenes are a wide group of naturally-occurring chemical compounds that often take the form of oils. When detected by your nose and tongue, you’ll pick up a huge variety of different smells and flavors. They can range from sweet to floral to earthy notes.
Nearly all plants produce terpenes in various amounts, and so do a few animals. Some well-known plant culprits are cannabis, citrus fruits, and aromatic herbs. Terpenes are the reason the scent from the cannabis plant can change so much from strain to strain.
What Are Some Examples of Terpenes?
Terpenes can be extracted and processed into cleaning products, dyes, perfumes, and pesticides. Some of the most common examples of terpenes are:
- Beta-pinene: The classic pine forest scent
- Limonene: A common, distinct citrus smell
- Linalool: A light, floral smell heavily found in lavender
- Humulene: The bitter, beery smell of freshly-cut hops
- Myrcene: The spicy, musky smell of cloves
What Is Caryophyllene?
Caryophyllene is an incredibly common terpene found in cannabis. But, along with other terpenes, it rarely gets mentioned in the cannabis conversation.
This terpene’s tricky pronunciation probably doesn’t help its popularity. To avert a common social faux pas, you should pronounce caryophyllene:
- ca + ry = “carry“
- oph = “off“
- y = “uh“
- llene = “lean“
What Does Caryophyllene Smell Like?
Caryophyllene, beta-caryophyllene, or BCP is best described as the peppery terpene. The caryophyllene smell is warm, pungent, and spicy.
With caryophyllene’s spicy and heady flavors, it’s pretty easy to identify this terpene in a cannabis strain. However, strains with an especially high concentration of caryophyllene will be distinctly musky and spicy — with nose-tingling, prominent notes of diesel and fuel.
Where Can You Find Caryophyllene?
Cannabis strains containing high levels of caryophyllene have warm and spicy undertones, similar to cloves and cinnamon.
You’ll also find caryophyllene in many herbs and spices. The most common plants with high concentrations of caryophyllene are:
- Black pepper
- Ylang ylang
What Sets Caryophyllene Weed Apart?
The human body contains an endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a network of receptors situated throughout the body. The ECS helps regulate mood, movement, and the immune system, and keeps the body in balance.
When a cannabinoid, like cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), enters the bloodstream, it binds to these ECS receptors. This allows them to deliver mood-enhancing, therapeutic, and — in the case of THC — psychedelic effects.
Terpenes don’t typically interact with the ECS, but caryophyllene is different from other terpenes. Caryophyllene has a bigger molecule size and unique structure. This enables it to easily bind to ECS receptors located in peripheral organs. And that means, unlike any other terpene, caryophyllene can directly activate a cannabinoid receptor. It can potentially deliver therapeutic effects in as efficient a way as a cannabinoid.
Potential Medical Benefits of Caryophyllene
Because caryophyllene can interact directly with ECS receptors, it has a wide range of potential medical benefits. And studies on the observed effects of caryophyllene are starting to support these best hopes with scientific evidence.
Here’s some of the most promising evidence on the medical benefits of caryophyllene:
- Anxiety and depression: Researchers studying caryophyllene in mice in 2014 found it improved symptoms of both anxiety and depression. This terpene is also often found in many hybrid strains known for their relaxing, stress-relieving effects.
- Anti-inflammation: A study that looked at caryophyllene’s effects on the body’s systems indicated its potential for helping treat a “multitude of diseases associated with inflammation and oxidative stress.” The terpene also showed promising results when used to treat symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) in mice.
- Antioxidant: Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing aging and illness. Antioxidants are chemicals that help remove these potentially-damaging free radicals from the body. Caryophyllene was found in a study in 2012 to have the ability to act as an antioxidant.
- Pain relief: As well as having anti-inflammatory potential, caryophyllene might also help with neuropathic conditions. A 2014 study found it capable of exerting analgesic effects in different models of chronic pain.
- Anti-addiction: In another study from 2014, as administered doses of caryophyllene were increased, alcohol consumption and preference decreased. This indicates the potential for caryophyllene to be used in reducing drug and alcohol dependency.
Cannabis Strains With High Caryophyllene Content
With so many cannabis strains available to buy, picking the right one to try can feel like a complicated decision. Walk into any VidaCann dispensary and we’ll be happy to help you find a strain packed with caryophyllene terpenes. But if you’d like a headstart, here are the best strains with a higher than average caryophyllene percentage.
- Girl Scout Cookies (GSC)
- Sour Diesel
- Bubba Kush
- Original Glue
- Thin Mint GSC
- Master Kush
- Cookies and Cream
- The White
- Death Star
Many of these strains tend to have a high percentage of caryophyllene. Just remember that many of these strains have a considerable THC content — the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — so always dose with caution.
Finding Caryophyllene in Natural Cannabis
Caryophyllene can be found in many cannabis topicals and creams. They’re designed to provide localized anti-inflammatory pain relief while showcasing that distinct caryophyllene smell. But that’s not the only way you can enjoy this aromatic and valuable terpene. Try packing a bowl, rolling a joint, or baking up a storm in the kitchen with a high-caryophyllene strain.
Look for the highest quality, organic cannabis to get full benefits from caryophyllene or any other terpene. Browse our finest strains of flower in the VidaCann online shop.