What is Beta-Caryophyllene and what does this cannabis terpene do?
The terpene profile of cannabis has never been as important to cannabis growers. With so many growers aiming for connoisseur quality levels, the role of terpenes creates more interest than ever before. A great terpene profile makes for the tastiest and most fragrant cannabis harvests. In this week’s blog we take a close look at the cannabis terpene beta caryophyllene.
What is beta caryophyllene?
If you’re a grower that appreciates cannabis with a great terpene profile then you may well have heard of beta-Caryophyllene. It is also known as ‘b caryophyllene’, β-caryophyllene or simply caryophyllene. Ever wondered what the difference is between beta caryophyllene and caryophyllene? There is no difference, they are just different names for the same terpene.
The aroma may remind you of a peppery/cloves smell, with hints of a spicy/wood scent.
Beta caryophyllene is one of the more common and abundant cannabis terpenes.
Are you curious about how much beta-caryophyllene is in cannabis / marijuana? It can account for over 25% of the total terpene content in a cannabis strain.
One feature of beta caryophyllene which has provoked massive interest in cannabis users is that it is a terpene which is also able to interact with some of the receptor sites in the human endo cannabinoid system. This allows us to consider beta caryophyllene as a cannabinoid as well as being a terpene.
There are many strains with beta caryophyllene present as a major terpene, we mention some of the Dutch Passion strains later.
Beta caryophyllene chemical formula and structure
What is the molecular formula of beta caryophyllene? The beta caryophyllene (sometimes abbreviated to ‘BCP’) structure is shown below. Caryophyllene is also found in hops, pepper, cloves and rosemary as well as cannabis. Biosynthesis of β-caryophyllene is a complicated process, starting with the two common terpene precursors dimethylallyl pyrophosphate.
Where can you find beta caryophyllene?
Beta caryophyllene is one of natures more abundant terpenes. Caryophyllene is found in Basil, Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, Black Caraway, Cinnamon and of course cannabis.
If you have ever wondered if beta caryophyllene is safe to use, you can rest assured that as a naturally occurring terpene it is regarded as safe even for use in foods.
Like other cannabis terpenes (such as limonene, geraniol, alpha pinene, alpha bisabolol etc), β-caryophyllene is generally regarded as safe (‘GRAS’) by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s also regarded as safe by the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) as a food additive, taste enhancer, cosmetic additive and flavour additive. It can be found in the following types of products.
- Face creams
- Hair conditioners
- Cooking sauces
- Ingredient/flavour additive in pre-mixed cooking spices
Beta-caryophyllene terpene profile
In it’s pure form beta caryophyllene has an inviting, organic/herbal aroma. Many feel that cannabis strains rich in caryophyllene seem better at pain reduction and help with painful inflammations.
Cannabis strains with high levels of β-caryophyllene won't necessarily have a clearly distinguishable smell of pure caryophyllene. That’s because all the terpenes collectively produce a highly complicated aroma. A complex terpene profile makes it difficult to pick out individual terpene scents.
Beta caryophyllene smell and aroma
Caryophyllene can be found at high levels in cannabis, accounting for 25% (or more) of the total terpene production of the cannabis strain. It’s one of the more dominant cannabis terpenes and helps provide rich, spicy, earthy and peppery notes to your cannabis. You may find these delicate terpene flavours and aromas easier to identify when you vape cannabis. That’s because vaping tends to preserve more of the finer taste and terpene aromas compared to smoking a joint. When smoking a joint, the smoke produced by the combustion process can overpower the fragile scents produced by the terpenes.
Beta caryophyllene effects
Beta caryophyllene targets and binds with the CB2 receptor in the human endo cannabinoid system. This effect has been studied in mice. Traditionally, people associate the cannabinoid receptors (known as CB1 and CB2) with the pleasant psychoactive high experienced with cannabis. THC, for example, binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce the euphoric cannabis high.
Two recent scientific studies into beta caryophyllene effects and uses are shown below. In both cases, researches found positive effects of beta caryophyllene in pain relief (analgesia) as well as benefits from reductions in stress/anxiety.
The CB2 receptor is associated with the modulation of neuropathic pain as well as inflammation. The research paper, above, suggests that oral consumption of caryophyllene may even be more effective than subcutaneous injections of pain killers for relief of pain. One key question for the study to answer is ‘what does beta caryophyllene do for the body?’
The study answers this with the conclusion that caryophyllene has clear effects on pain in mammals and suggests that much more in depth work is required to fully characterise the effects of caryophyllene on pain and inflammation.
One other interesting aspect of the scientific study is that beta caryophyllene is often described as a cannabinoid instead of terpene. This is specifically because of the interaction with the CB2 receptor. Clearly, there are some grey areas of overlap between cannabinoids and terpenes.
These studies showed that orally-administered beta caryophyllene reduced inflammatory pain and also reduced spinal neuro-inflammation in mice. The conclusions state that the main beta caryophyllene benefits, effects and uses may be the effective treatment of debilitating pain as well stress/anxiety reduction.
More about beta-caryophyllene uses
Caryophyllene has some properties of a cannabinoid. Does this mean that the terpene beta-caryophyllene offers any euphoria? Unfortunately, at this stage the answer is no. Others have asked how safe beta caryophyllene is, as well as whether caryophyllene is safe for dogs. Plenty of research has been done into the safety of caryophyllene, it is regarded as a safe additive for human food/edibles as well as cosmetics. It is also safe for dogs.
The beta caryophyllene dosage depends very much on the strain of cannabis you are using, and the amount. In some strains, beta caryophyllene is present in trace amounts. In others it can be the dominant terpene accounting for 25% or more of total terpene content.
A typical terpene profile contains a mix of different terpenes in different ratios. Linalool and beta-caryophyllene, along with terpenes such as alpha pinene, myrcene, geraniol, limonene and others are often found in cannabis. Beta-caryophyllene and alpha bisabolol are often found together. Bisabolol is a terpene with a weak floral scent.
Beta caryophyllene vs CBD
CBD users are often curious to know how much beta-caryophyllene is in cbd oil. The answer depends on the strain of cannabis used to produce the CBD oil. If the cannabis strain contained a high proportion of beta Caryophyllene in its terpene profile then the CBD oil will also contain it.
One other question from CBD users is ‘which is better for pain, CBD or beta caryophyllene?’. It’s a good question, however CBD isn't officially regarded as a pain relieving medication, though some CBD users may disagree with that. However, the previously cited studies have indicated that caryophyllene may have analgesic (pain killing) properties. So perhaps, when it comes to the pain relieving properties of beta caryophyllene vs cbd, current thinking suggests that caryophyllene may have the greater role to play.
Top cannabis strains containing beta caryophyllene
Here are a few of the Dutch Passion cannabis strains with high levels of beta caryophyllene. These are a mixture of autoflowering cannabis seeds as well as feminised seeds.
Auto Banana Blaze
If you love a unique terpene profile then Auto Banana Blaze seeds deliver it alongside extremely high THC levels. The wonderful aroma of sweet, ripe bananas on this indica autoflower seed variety really is special. Part of the collection of Afghani Kush cannabis seeds, famous for being easy to grow with a powerful and enjoyable high.
|Auto Banana Blaze®|
|Banana Blaze X Auto Mazar|
With very high THC levels and genetics from Sweet Pink Grapefruit and Orange Bud, these feminised photoperiod cannabis seeds have a sweet, fruity citrus terpene profile. Passion Fruit seeds are part of the best selling Orange Family of cannabis seeds, famous for combining a great citrus taste with an unbeatable feel-good high. Expect deliciously sweet flavours and aromas thanks to the rich terpene profile, with high levels of beta caryophyllene.
|Sweet Pink Grapefruit X Orange Bud|
HiFi 4G is part of the USA Special cannabis seed collection. These are some of the strongest and most powerful THC rich seeds available today. HiFi 4G seeds grow into hybrid indica/sativa plants with an incredibly rich tasty flavour and a fresh, strong aroma which greets you as soon as you open the jar.
|WiFi OG X Glueberry OG|
Auto Blackberry Kush
Auto Blackberry Kush seeds produce plants with around 15% of beta caryophyllene in the overall terpene profile. Made from crossing Blueberry genetics with a dark hash plant, the aromas are deep and hashy with fruity tones. Many of the plants will turn dark blue/purple, not only do the buds have a delicious terpene profile, they really look spectacular! This indica dominant autoflower seed variety is a member of the Blue Seed family, noted for the best blue weed genetics.
|Auto Blackberry Kush®|
|Blueberry X Dark hash-plant|
Auto Cinderella Jack
Auto Cinderella Jack is quite possibly the world’s strongest autoflower seed, with THC levels recorded at over 25%. This is part of the Classics seed collection and has a great aroma with a strong pine-like, spicy and fruity aroma. A pine/herb mixture is the dominant scent. The four most dominant terpenes are alpha-pinene (Pine), beta-Myrcene (Floral, earthy, fruity), beta-caryophyllene (Spicy and woody) and limonene (citrus, fresh and fruity).
|Auto Cinderella Jack®|
|(Cinderella 99 X Jack Herer) X Magnum|
|10 - 11 weeks|
Auto Lemon Kix
Auto Lemon Kix is a sativa dominant autoflower seed variety. She is also a member of the exclusive Dutch Passion collection of Extremely High THC seeds. This sweet, and stunningly powerful, autoflower strain will remind you of a certain brand of famous USA candies. Even before you enjoy smoking/vaping this THC rich autoflower, you will have enjoyed the exotic fruity aromas produced during cultivation. Dry and cure this variety well and she will fill your jars with some of the sweetest smelling buds you will have ever grown!
|Auto Lemon Kix®|
|Las Vegas Lemon Skunk Autoflower|
What is beta caryophyllene used for?
Beta caryophyllene has been sufficiently well researched to know that it is ‘generally regarded as safe’ by the USA and European Food and Drug agencies. As such, it has found it’s way into a variety of domestic products, where the natural, woody/spicy scent has found uses in edible food products as well as personal products such as shampoos, soaps etc. You can also find caryophyllene in household products, for example cleaning products/sprays where the natural scent leaves a pleasant aroma.
Beta caryophyllene and organic growing - BioTabs
Dutch Passion really recommend growing your cannabis seeds organically if you are interested in getting some of the richest and deepest terpene scents. BioTabs are a Dutch company which Dutch Passion have known for decades.
BioTabs products not only make your growing organic, they also simplify your grow meaning there is less to go wrong. The BioTabs products are mixed with your grow medium at the start of the grow.This means that you just need to add water for the bulk of your grow.
That means no potentially confusing pH and EC meters are needed, perhaps just a touch of light bloom nutrient may be needed towards the end of bloom. BioTabs come with full instructions and have allowed many growers to improve final quality levels of the harvest.
Entourage effects: how beta caryophyllene interact with other cannabinoids
As previously mentioned, beta caryophyllene exhibits hybrid properties of both a terpene and a cannabinoid. This creates some exciting questions, such as does caryophyllene interact with other cannabinoids? In other words, would the presence of beta caryophyllene enhance the cannabis high through the entourage effect.
At the moment, there is no firm scientific data on this. It’s worth adding that the entourage effect is only a proposed mechanism, there is still not enough scientific data to fully explain how it works or whether caryophyllene plays a major role.