There are some anomalies in science, and then there’s beta-caryophyllene (aka β-Caryophyllene). It’s a terpene that’s abundant in cannabis and also happens to be responsible for the spiciness in black pepper. It’s so abundant in nature that you probably consume beta-caryophyllene most days and don’t even know about it — it can be found in rosemary, cloves, basil, sage, and celery. 

But beta-caryophyllene isn’t any old terpene.

This peculiar aromatic compound also acts as a cannabinoid. It’s the only known terpene to interact with cannabinoid receptor sites on top of its other biological activities. 

That doesn’t make beta-caryophyllene psychoactive by any means. It doesn’t contribute to the “stoned” effect because it doesn’t interact with the CB1 receptor the same way THC does. In fact, it interacts with the CB2 receptor.

Beta-caryophyllene also has a whole host of therapeutic properties. Some scientists say it’s one of the most versatile natural compounds on the planet. Let’s check out this mysterious terpene in a little more detail.

Beta-caryophyllene and the endocannabinoid system.

Culinary herbs that are high in beta caryophyllene displayed with a mortar and pestle

Terpenes don’t typically interact with the endocannabinoid system. Rather, they complement cannabinoids with other biological functions, such as being antimicrobial, antioxidant or neuroprotective. Beta-caryophyllene, on the other hand, has a particular affinity for the CB2 receptor.

Because of the way that beta-caryophyllene talks to the CB2 receptor, it is called a CB2 receptor-selective phytocannabinoid. It is a CB2 receptor agonist, which means that when it binds to the CB2 receptor, it activates its biological activities. In this way, beta-caryophyllene is just as much a dietary cannabinoid as THC or CBD.

The CB2 receptor, unlike the CB1 receptor, is distributed primarily on immune cells and in peripheral organs that play some kind of immune function. These organs might include the spleen, tonsils, lungs, and thymus. As you can imagine, this means that beta-caryophyllene might have an important role to play in inflammatory conditions and the overall inflammatory response. 

Therapeutic uses for beta-caryophyllene.

A desk representing medical cannabis supplies displayed with balance stones

This interesting terpene/phytocannabinoid has received a lot of attention from the scientific community. This is unlike a lot of other compounds found in cannabis — but it’s worth mentioning that beta-caryophyllene isn’t unique to cannabis. It has probably been researched much more than other cannabis constituents for the sheer fact that it’s present in a huge variety of plants.

In one murine study, researchers found that beta-caryophyllene had an anti-inflammatory effect in those with multiple sclerosis. In particular, they found that beta-caryophyllene could suppress some of the neuroinflammation associated with MS and the consequent motor paralysis.

In another study, scientists investigated beta-caryophyllene for its potential in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Again, researchers used murine models and found that beta-caryophyllene reduced motor dysfunction, was neuroprotective, and inhibited high levels of inflammatory cytokines. They concluded that beta-caryophyllene should be further investigated as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s. 

Finally, beta-caryophyllene might have some anti-cancer and analgesic applications.

Strains high in beta-caryophyllene.

So now you’ve heard a lot about this spicy, and apparently multipurpose terpene/cannabinoid. As we mentioned, if you want to get some of this terpene into you, you can find it in black pepper, rosemary, sage, basil, and a bunch of other culinary herbs. 

As beta-caryophyllene is an inflammation modulator and a pain killer, we recommend choosing strains high in this terpene for that exact reason. Typically, strains with beta-caryophyllene are good strains for managing pain states and inflammatory states. Here are a few strains from our pantry high in beta-caryophyllene.

From the pantry.

Death Bubba x Rockstar  

My Supply Co. stocks Death Bubba x Rockstar hash — a blend of two kinds of hash (Death Bubba and Rockstar). Both are known to have high levels of beta-caryophyllene, and it comes through with its woody, spicy aroma (much like black pepper!). 

Scout Master

This strain was bred from Girl Scout Cookies and Master Kush, two strains known for high beta-caryophyllene levels. This hybrid is jovial, boisterous and fun. Its effects come on strong, leaning heavier into the sativa side, but is balanced with a fat CBD content too.

Kush Berry

Being the proud offspring of OG Kush, Kush Berry is deliciously abundant in beta-caryophyllene. But beware — if you’re looking for a therapeutic hit, Kush Berry might push those boundaries. Notoriously strong for managing pain and bringing on sleep, Kush Berry is a potent medicinal cannabis strain.

Spicy is the key.

Four culinary spices high in beta caryophyllene displayed on wooden spoons

The words “peppery” and “spicy” came up a lot in this article. That’s because beta-caryophyllene’s characteristic smell and taste are very peppery. If you’re getting that spicy smell from cannabis, it’s typically indicative of high beta-caryophyllene content. 

Keep your eye (or nose) out for the spicy smell of cannabis if you’re looking for strains with beta-caryophyllene, the terpene that doubles up as a cannabinoid. 

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