Caryophyllene Terpene: Effects and Benefits

Beta-caryophyllene, a common terpene in cannabis, is known for its spicy aroma and potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anxiety relief properties.

Dr. Abraham Benavides is an international cannabis science advisor, health coach, and full-tuition merit scholar of the GW School of Medicine. Abe pioneered and published first-author research with the Cannabis...

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Caryophyllene terpene in natural foods and cannabis strains
Illustration: Layla Selestrini / CBD Oracle
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Key Takeaways:

  • Beta-caryophyllene is a commonly dominant terpene in Cannabis, and dietary cannabinoid in herbs and spices like black pepper and basil.
  • Beta-caryophyllene gives a familiar spicy and peppery aroma and may have potent therapeutic effects for relieving pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and more.
  • Fun fact: Beta-caryophyllene is uniquely considered a non-intoxicating, dietary cannabinoid due to its abundance and selective, anti-inflammatory CB2 receptor actions.

Characteristics of Beta-Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene is one of the most common terpenes in Cannabis and beyond.

Plants make several kinds of caryophyllene that serve defensive functions. Caryophyllene wards off insects that eat plants, while also attracting predatory bugs that eat herbivorous bugs. 

For humans, the caryophyllene of most research and therapeutic interest is the abundant beta type. Beta-caryophyllene is behind the spicy and peppery scents of a plethora of herbs and spices including:

  • Black pepper
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Hops
  • Clove oil
  • Cinnamon 
  • Caraway
  • Grains of paradise

When cannabis is heated enough to decarboxylate cannabinoids, terpenes like beta-caryophyllene are also decarbed and oxidized. Caryophyllene oxide gives a scent more like lemon balm and has antifungal and insecticidal properties. It’s also detectable by drug-sniffing dogs.

Cannabis Strains High in Beta-Caryophyllene

When studies sample chemovars, or strains, beta-caryophyllene is almost always one of the most abundant terpenes in the majority of samples. In fact, it’s the most common sesquiterpene (15-carbon terpene) in Cannabis

Basically, this means you won’t have a hard time finding it in most chemovars. In particular, Caryodiol™, aka Kashmir Blue, is a special strain known for its selectively high beta-caryophyllene and CBD content – and is even named after both! 

Other noteworthy cannabis strains that are rich in beta-caryophyllene include:

  • SFV OG
  • Super Lemon Haze 
  • Lemon Skunk 
  • Afghan Kush 
  • Blue Cheese 
  • Chocolope
  • CBD Skunk Haze
  • White Widow 
  • Purple No. 1
  • Durban Poison
  • Glueberry OG 
  • Blue Berry
  • Black Berry Kush
  • Purple Kush 
  • CBD Charlotte’s Angel
  • Meringue
  • Bubba Island Kush
  • And many more

Effects: What Does Beta-Caryophyllene Do?

Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid that doesn’t get you high.

New research shows some terpenes may activate CB1 to increase highs – but not caryophyllene. 

Instead, small clinical and mostly preclinical data show beta-caryophyllene hits other targets that may symptomatically relieve:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Pain

Therapeutic Benefits

Beta-caryophyllene has a key strategic advantage because of its uniquely strong CB2 functions, without CB1 intoxication.

In addition to the above, this unlocks a wider range of potential therapeutic effects for:

Side Effects

Natural beta-caryophyllene is generally safe and approved as a food, taste, flavor, and cosmetic additive by the FDA.

There are a handful of direct clinical studies examining beta-caryophyllene effects in humans that support its safety and well-tolerability.

Earlier animal studies also show mice can tolerate doses as high as 2,000 mg/kg without side effects. Beta-caryophyllene does not appear to affect weight, appetite, water intake, blood pressure, or other biological measurements in humans or animals.


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