ˈka-rēˈō-fī-ˈlēn | Noun

Caryophyllene, more formally known as beta caryophyllene, is an extremely common terpene found in cannabis that is known for its herbal spiciness, tinted by hints of wood. It is most commonly found in black pepper, cinnamon, and hops. Caryophyllene is a potent component in anti-inflammatory salves and topicals, and also has anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. Caryophyllene is considered a dietary cannabinoid, because of its ability to bind to CB2 cannabinoid receptors after being consumed orally.


Caryophyllene is a terpene found in pepper.”


“This weed has a hint of spiciness, perhaps there’s caryophyllene in it.”

What is Caryophyllene?

Notable as a dietary cannabinoid, the caryophyllene terpene is a frequent natural food additive. Shaded pale yellow, caryophyllene has a sweet taste found in such food items as allspice and fig. Caryophyllene is one of the most thoroughly studied terpenes found in cannabis. Organic chemist and Harvard researcher E. J. Corey studied caryophyllene in the 1960s and demonstrated the terpene’s chemically reactive possibilities. Corey’s pioneering research has aided contemporary scientists in investigating caryophyllene’s potentially therapeutic usages. 

Caryophyllene in Everyday Life

Anyone with a spice rack or an affinity for spicy cooking has probably come into contact with caryophyllene at some point. Dishes from cinnamon French toast to pepper steak may contain caryophyllene. Additionally, caryophyllene has preservative properties and is found in the hops that flavor and stabilize beer. Although beer is the most widely known beverage to contain hops, it is not the only one. Hops, and therefore caryophyllene, may be found in certain types of vodka and “hopped” whiskeys. Caryophyllene has also been used as a flavoring agent in chewing gum to enhance a citrusy or spicy profile. Besides its wide usages in food and beverages, caryophyllene may be found in detergents and numerous topical skin products. 

What are the Benefits of Caryophyllene?

Much promising research has been conducted on animals to uncover various caryophyllene effects, most notably its possible therapeutic usages. However, more research is needed to understand this terpene’s effects on human health, both physical and mental. One notable study, conducted on human cells, demonstrated caryophyllene’s potential as an anticancer, antimicrobial, and antioxidant agent. Although these findings are very promising, further research in humans is necessary to fully define the best medical uses for caryophyllene.


Anti-inflammatory: Caryophyllene has shown to have possible anti-inflammatory effects in ailments such as arthritis. Researchers have conducted several studies that observed the response rate of the anti-inflammatory properties in rats with induced arthritis and discovered that doses of 215 milligrams and 430 mg of caryophyllene given to both healthy and arthritic rats reduced the swelling of lymph nodes and did not modify the metabolism of the healthy rats. Caryophyllene can be found in many cannabis topicals and salves.


Anticancer: Citing the need for further research, scientists have nonetheless hailed caryophyllene as possessing “significant anticancer activities, affecting growth and proliferation of numerous cancer cells,” according to a 2016 study.


Sleep: In combination with other terpenes, caryophyllene has shown promise as a sedative. A 2012 study on essential oils containing caryophyllene found that mice treated with the oil experienced increased sleep time and decreased locomotion and body temperature.


Pain: Researchers injected mice with caryophyllene to study how the compound syncs with pain relief and found mice that were induced with caryophyllene experienced less pain than the mice who were treated with a control solution, according to the results published in a 2013 study. The entourage effect of terpenes collectively enhanced the pain-reducing properties of the lower dose morphine.


Other potential uses: When it comes to other potential beta caryophyllene benefits, there is evidence indicating that the terpene contains compounds that balance the glucose levels in rats with diabetes. Other studies show that caryophyllene can help with Parkinson’s disease by activating the CB2 receptors that inhibit the loss of dopamine and protect the brain from oxidative stress. The active CB2 receptors have also been linked to reducing the neuroinflammatory response in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

High-Caryophyllene Strains

Cannabis varieties that contain high concentrations of beta caryophyllene include Bubba Kush, OG Kush, Chemdawg, Sour Diesel, Rockstar, and Skywalker OG. Most cannabis strains will contain caryophyllene. Caryophyllene strains are generally perceived to have an pain-relieving effect as a direct result of inflammation reduction. Because of caryophyllene’s binding affinity for CB2 receptors in the brain, the terpene may also be able to have substantial effects on brain health and mental well-being, but additional research is necessary. 

Bottom Line

Distinguished as a dietary cannabinoid, caryophyllene, also known by its more scientific name beta caryophyllene, is frequently encountered in the culinary world and may be beneficial in treating arthritis, cancer, and other diseases.