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Terpene Talk

What is humulene + the effects of this terpene?

Gregg PadulaOctober 15, 2020

What is Humulene?

Humulene is considered one of the primary cannabis terpenes alongside myrcene, limonene, and pinene. These, combined with almost two hundred other terpenes give cannabis its complex flavors and aromas. Found in every cannabis strain, the oil stamps each with distinct fragrances, effects, and therapeutic efficacy.

Humulene, also known as alpha-caryophyllene or a-caryophyllene, was first discovered in the essential oils of common hops - yes, the same hops used to brew beer and that gives beer its classic, hoppy taste. While the parallels between cannabis and alcohol can differ, one tie cannot be severed – the close genetic relationship between cannabis and hops. Both belong to the Cannabacae family, and share some common biochemistry.

It also plays an important function in the life cycle of a cannabis plant prior to harvest. Humulene and other terpenes aid in a plant's defense capabilities by helping to deter pests and prevent fungal infestations.


What are the benefits and effects of Humulene?

Unlike active cannabinoids like THC and CBD, humulene and other terpenes are well-researched by comparison since they don't face the same legal restrictions. Studies have indicated profound medical benefits in cannabis terpenes and in the ways terpenes and cannabinoids interact to elevate a strain's overall effects. 

Appetite Suppression

Before assuming all cannabis strains have the potential to bring on a massive case of the munchies, think again. When it comes to appetite – not all strains are created equal. Humulene appears to suppress appetite and the feeling of hunger, suggesting that it could be effective in weight loss strategies. 

Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Similar to other primary terpenes, humulene is an effective anti-inflammatory and can aid in pain relief – with the added benefit of proven antibacterial properties. A recent study indicated that it may also be a therapeutic aid in allergic reactions

Anti-Tumor Effects

But, the most unique aspect of humulene's medical properties is its ability to fight cancer and kill tumor cells, especially when acting in concert with other terpenes. A 2003 study found that balsam fir oil containing humulene produced anti-tumorigenic actions. 

Humulene is also recognized as safe by the FDA. 

Humulene in Cannabis Strains


Behind the wall of fragrant, bitter hops, Humulene's aroma in cannabis strains is earthy with spicy, herbal notes. It's bitter, woody flavors are also found in coriander, basil, clove, black pepper, and sage.

It's most often present in sativa strains. Strains that have tested high in humulene include White Widow, OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), Thin Mint, Candyland, and Sherbet just to name a few.

Gregg Padula
Gregg Padula
Gregg Padula is a cannabis columnist with industry roots reaching back to Humboldt County, CA in the early 2000’s – and later as one of the first cultivators in Massachusetts’ medical cannabis industry. This unique vantage point is explored in much of his work for Gatehouse Media and WickedLocal.com.