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Here is a comprehensive review of the cannabis terpene called humulene. There are over 20,000 terpenes that exist in nature while over 200 can be traced to cannabis.
Terpenes are found in the resinous glands (trichomes) found on mature cannabis buds. As the plants begin to produce flowers they develop trichomes that appear like tiny little crystals that have a sticky feeling. The trichomes produce cannabinoids as well as terpenes such as humulene.
Terpenes are a diverse class of organic hydrocarbons that are produced by a variety of plants as well as insects. They have a strong aroma; while the unpleasant aromas scare away predators the sweet smelling ones attract pollinators. Thanks to the legalization of cannabis that is sweeping across the globe research on cannabis is now happening and from the research it is emerging that these aromatic compounds have significant therapeutic value.
What is Humulene Terpene?
Humulene is an abundant terpene in nature and is responsible for the distinct flavour of a number of well-known herbs and products. For example, humulene gives beer its unmistakable “hoppy” tang. Humulene in pine enhances the refreshing breeze that you feel when walking through or past a pine forest.
Traditional Chinese medicine incorporated humulene in several remedies especially where inflammation, allergies, and bacterial infections were concerned.
Humulene is found in many cannabis strains as you will see later in this article. It is also found in high amounts in hops (humulus lupulus) which is used to ferment beer.
The aroma of humulene is described as herbal, woody, or earthy.
Humulene Terpene Structure
Humulene is closely related to another common terpene known as caryophyllene. While both terpenes are present in hops, they share a similar molecular formation; humulene is an isomer of caryophyllene. Due to this humulene is also referred to as α-caryophyllene.
Humulene is naturally occurring monocyclic sesquiterpene with a chemical formula of (C15H24). While caryophyllene is closely linked to gut health humulene has been linked to appetite suppression. Due to this, humulene is known as the appetite- suppressing terpene.
Given that high-THC cannabis strains have a strong appetite stimulating effect it would be interesting to know how the two compounds work together. Does humulene counter the appetite- stimulating effects of THC?
Therapeutic Benefits of Humulene
Now that cannabis research is opening up a number of therapeutic effects of terpenes have begun showing up. Humulene terpene research is still in its infancy but so far there are a few indications of therapeutic potential in four key areas as listed below.
1. Anti-inflammatory Effects
Chronic Inflammation is the underlying cause of many chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. Like many cannabis compounds, humulene seems to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
One study showed that humulene has similar anti-inflammatory effects as dexamethasone which is a commonly used steroid drug.
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A study that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology found that humulene reduced signs of inflammation in mice. The study concluded that further investigation was needed to examine the role of this terpene in treating inflammatory disease. A later study that was carried out in 2008 confirmed these findings when humulene was administered via oral and topical routes. This and other subsequent studies have shown that humulene could be useful in relieving inflammation in conditions such as allergic rhinitis.
2. Antioxidant Effects
Humulene has antioxidant effects which help to improve health and prevent disease. A study that was conducted in 2016 and published in the Biomedical and Pharmacology Journal investigated the benefits of administering humulene to diabetic rats. The results revealed that this terpene has potent antioxidant benefits. It decreased markers of oxidative stress significantly and displayed anti-diabetic potential.
3. Antibacterial Effects
Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the use of humulene in fighting bacterial infections.
In small quantities humulene has been shown to kill bacteria specifically staph aureus. This was revealed by a study that was conducted in 2006 and published in Phytotherapy Research.
4. Appetite Suppressing Effects of Humulene
The appetite suppressing effects of humulene have been on the radar lately; hence the name “appetite suppressing terpene.” This property is also a debunk to the myth that “all marijuana strains cause the munchies.” THCV is another marijuana compound (cannabinoid) that is known for its appetite-suppressing effects.
This property counters the munchies caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and could be helpful in stimulating weight loss. However, further research is needed to explore the mechanisms through which humulene suppresses appetite and how this contributes to cannabis synergy.
Popular Humulene Strains
The following marijuana strains have high amounts of humulene.
Girl Scout Cookies
This popular marijuana strain has high levels of humulene, this could be as high as 2.5%. It is an indica leaning marijuana strain that is a hybrid cross between Durban Poison and OG Kush. This strain has been used to treat chronic pain and inflammation and mood disorders.
This is a popular sativa leaning marijuana strain that contains approximately 1% humulene THC levels exceeding 20%. It's a hybrid cross between Chemdawg and Super Skunk. It is loved by users for its energizing ability and near instant cerebral hit. It has been used by patients to treat pain and inflammation.
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This is a sweet tasting marijuana strain with strong hints of earthy herbal aroma. The humulene amount is about 0.48% while the THC gets to at least 20%. It is an indica leaning strain with strong body effects. Patients have used this strain to treat extreme fatigue, insomnia, and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Other Sources of Humulene Terpene
Humulene can also be found in the following:
- Chinese Ginseng
- Black pepper
Humulene and the Entourage Effect
Humulene, like other terpenes, work together with cannabinoids to buffer the medicinal effects of cannabis. A full-spectrum extract that contains humulene will have additional benefits such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects. Cannabis synergy, which is the same as entourage benefits, suggests that the healing power of cannabis is enhanced when different cannabinoids and terpenes are working together in synergy. This discovery has led to a shift in cannabinoid-based therapy from a focus on single compounds to a full-spectrum approach.
This wraps up our comprehensive review on humulene; it is clear that this terpene is one that has medical scientists excited.