Caryophyllene is responsible for musky spicy aromas like that of black pepper.

Terpenes: Caryophyllene

Posted by Sauce Warehouse on

Terpenes: Caryophyllene

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are chemical compounds present in nature that are responsible for the unique aromatic properties of plants.  From musky earth to fragrant citrus, terpenes produce a wide variety of different aromas. Check out our terpene chart if you're interested in seeing the wide variety of terpene aromas & flavors.

The terpene Caryophyllene, also known as beta-Caryophyllene or b-Caryophyllene, contributes to the aromas of many herbs and spices.  These spicy notes can be experienced in black pepper, oregano, basil, and of course cannabis!  Cannabis containing high levels of Caryophyllene tend to have a spicy nose reminiscent of cloves and cinnamon.


The Only Terpene That Acts as a Cannabinoid 

Caryophyllene is the only cannabinoid that we know of which binds to the CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system.  Because of this ability the terpene can act as cannabinoid as well as a terpene.  This means Caryophyllene has increased potential to provide medical benefits.

Aromatic Properties of Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene is found in nature within hops, oregano, black pepper, clove, basil, and cinnamon.  It is also found in aromatic oils like clove and rosemary oil.  If you are familiar with the pungent bite of smelling cracked pepper this is the aroma which Caryophyllene is responsible for.

Black Pepper

Caryophyllene’s Structure

When compared to terpenes such as myrcene and limonene, Caryophyllene has much larger molecular structure.  This structure also contains a cyclobutane ring which is extremely rare in nature and hasn’t been found in any other terpenes present in cannabis.

Interaction with the Endocannabinoid System

If you are reading this, you are probably at least slightly familiar with the endocannabinoid system which contains a network of endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the human body.  There are two primary types of receptors, CB1 and CB2.  CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and central nervous system.  CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral organs.

CB1 and CB2 receptor locations within the endocannabinoid system

When THC molecules are consumed, most of them bind to CB1 receptors located in the brain and central nervous system.  This in turn produces the euphoric effect or ‘high’ associated with consuming cannabis. 

Caryophyllene’s unique structure enables it to easily bind to CB2 receptors within our peripheral endocannabinoid system.  Because it binds primarily to CB2 and not CB1 receptors, none of the euphoric effects of THC are produced but many of the non-intoxicating benefits of cannabis are like reduced inflammation.

This ability to directly activate a cannabinoid receptor makes it a unique terpene as no other terpene has been shown to have this ability. 

Cannabis Flower

Cannabis Strains with High Levels of Caryophyllene

If you are looking for a high Caryophyllene cannabis strain, go for the funk.  Cannabis strains with high levels of Caryophyllene tend to have funky profiles with notes of spice and musk.  They may also have prominent fuel and diesel aromas that cause that pungent cracked pepper bite we mentioned earlier.

High Caryophyllene Cannabis Strains:

  • GSC

  • Sour Diesel

  • Death Star

  • Master Kush

  • Bubba Kush

  • Cookies and Cream

  • Chem Dog

  • Gelato

  • Candyland

  • Original Glue

High Caryophyllene Hemp/CBD Strains:

  • Bubba Kush 59
  • Sour Lifter
  • Sour Suver Haze
  • Super Sour Space Candy
  • Wedding Cake
  • Abacus Diesel
  • Gorilla Cake
  • Forbidden V
  • Pink Panther
  • Strawberry Cake

Certain strain families tend to be higher in Caryophyllene.  Strains in the Kush family – Bubba Kush, Legendary OG, Platinum Kush, OG Kush, and the Cookies family - GSC, Platinum GSC, Cookies and Cream, and Candyland.  You will notice all these strains have noticeable aromatic properties resulting from the higher Caryophyllene content.

Many hybrid strains also contain higher levels of this terpene which is well known for its relaxing and anxiety reducing effects.  Its unique aromatic notes make it quite easy to detect in cannabis strains.

It’s become quite common for high Caryophyllene strains to be used in the production of topicals and salves both for the unique aromatic profile and the therapeutic benefits.

Topical Cannabis Salve

Potential Health Benefits of Caryophyllene

Many studies have been done centering around the effects and potential health benefits of Caryophyllene.  These studies have yielded a wide variety of potential benefits.

A 2014 study with mice found the terpene to have pain-relieving properties and another rodent study demonstrated Caryophyllene’s potential to help with reduced consumption of alcohol and addiction in general.

Lab Equipment

In addition to these benefits, the terpene was found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as potential for treating inflammatory bowel disease.  Moreover, Caryophyllene has shown promise as a potential treatment for anxiety and depression.

Studies and research continue to examine the potential benefits of Caryophyllene.  Recent research has found that Caryophyllene as well as other terpenes may help with increasing the human lifespan by reducing gene stress which destroys our cells.


Interested in trying Caryophyllene yourself?  Sauce Warehouse has plenty of concentrates containing this unique and beneficial terpene.  If you’d like some help finding the right one for you feel free to contact us, we’d love to help!

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