Flavors and aromas can often be hard to describe. The taste of a hoppy beer or the smell of some essential oils may be described using terms like “earthy,” or “woody.” Although, when we use these types of adjectives, we know that there’s no dirt in our IPA and no timber in our oils. Where do these plant-like smells come from? Well, it’s all thanks to the humulene terpene!
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds that exist in every plant on Earth, and they are responsible for each plant’s flavor and aroma profile. Over 20,000 terpenes have been discovered, 200 of which are found in the Cannabis genus of plants. With the rise of essential oils, medical marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD), terpenes are starting to be recognized for their advantageous properties.
Cannabis terpenes are extracted from plant material (either hemp or marijuana) and used for a variety of purposes. Each one has its own unique flavor and benefits. Myrcene, for example, is associated with sedative effects, and limonene smells very similar to lemons (which can be invigorating).
Another terpene, called humulene, is undergoing research for its effects on inflammation and its potential to be used as an appetite suppressant.
What is Humulene?
Humulene, also known as α-humulene or alpha-humulene, is one of the cannabis terpenes that may be extracted from hemp or marijuana. Humulene can be found in wood, which is a reason some cannabis strains carry earthy, woody flavors.
This terpene was once believed to be the same type of terpene as another compound that has an identical molecular formula: beta-caryophyllene (β-caryophyllene).
When humulene was first discovered it was labeled alpha-caryophyllene (α-caryophyllene). However, researchers soon realized that even though caryophyllene and humulene are two terpenes with the same chemical makeup, they were isomers of one another and not the same. Although, alpha-humulene is still often found with beta-caryophyllene.
What Do Humulene Terpenes Smell & Taste Like?
Humulene terpenes are known to have a full, soil-and-wood like taste and smell. Since humulene is found in both hops and cannabis, it’s no wonder that they have a related flavor profile. This terpene is also found in the essential oil of Balsam fir trees.
That means you might even get a joyful whiff of Christmas!
What Are the Effects of Humulene?
Humulene has been used by Chinese apothecaries for generations. Ginseng tea and sage oil are just two examples of ancient, humulene-rich therapeutic remedies that are still used for their soothing effects today.
Some consumers claim that humulene has anti-inflammatory properties, and recent studies may support their opinions. One study on mice indicates that both humulene and caryophyllene seem to reduce inflammation in a way that is similar to medical steroids.
Humulene is currently being studied for its weight-loss potential. These terpenes might be able to reduce one’s appetite, especially when combined with beta-caryophyllene.
There is some good research involving this terpene’s effects on Staphylococcus aureus. This is a bacteria that lives in our bodies, usually in the upper respiratory tract or on our skin. It’s considered a “pathobiont” (potential disease-inducing organisms).
Abnormal Cell Growth
Humulene was involved in a 2003 study to test its interaction with abnormal cells. The study suggests that Alpha-humulene decreased glutathione (GSH) levels and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. GSH is an antioxidant that naturally occurs in our bodies, and we normally benefit from them.
However, when abnormal cells are present in someone’s body GSH can protect those cells, preventing them from being targeted by chemotherapy. A large increase in ROS is associated with reduced abnormal cell growth.
Pharmacokinetics is a branch of pharmacology that studies what happens to substances that we ingest. Studies have shown that humulene exhibits rapid onset and efficient absorption into the body, which could potentially help researchers design and administer drugs to be as expedient as possible.
Where is Humulene Found?
As we’ve touched on, humulene can be found in cannabis. Cannabis is a family of plants that can refer to either marijuana or hemp. Sativa strains of marijuana have high amounts of humulene.
But even though medical marijuana has been growing in popularity, it is not yet federally legal. So, while humulene can be derived from marijuana, hemp-extracted products that contain this terpene can still be purchased in any state that has not legalized marijuana.
Humulene can also be found before the extraction process. These terpenes are released into the atmosphere by plants. If you walk through a forest or smell fresh cilantro, you’re experiencing the refreshing aroma of humulene!
High levels of this terpene can also be found in the essential oil of Balsam fir trees. These are the leaves of Cordia verbenacea (a South American bush), black pepper, basil, clove, sage, and hops. In fact, humulene gets its name from Humulus lupulus, which is another name for hops. α-humulene was first discovered in the essential oil of hops, so don’t be surprised if your Sour Diesel CBD strain reminds you of a dark beer!
Popular Strains That Have Humulene Terpenes
Many cannabis strains have humulene within them. Each strain is not created equally, though, and some have especially high levels of these terpenes. Hawaiian Haze, Lifter CBD, Sour Space Candy, Durban Diesel, Sour Diesel, Wagyu Kush, OG Kush CBD, Bubba Kush, Pink Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, Headband, White Widow, Super Lemon Haze, and Skywalker OG are all humulene-heavy cannabis strains.
If one of these strains sounds especially tasty to you then check out our extensive selection of CBD flower. We have many of the strains listed above and more to choose from! We also offer free shipping for all of our products, as well as a 100% money-back policy if you’re not satisfied. Why not try out a couple of flavors, experiment, and find the perfect strain for you!
Humulene terpenes can help give cannabis products or essential oil that organic, earthy flavor that reminds us of the natural compounds all around us. With over 200,000 terpenes out there, there’s a whole world of benefits just waiting to be explored.
Even if another new terpene comes along and shakes up the cannabis industry, some things just don’t get old. The hoppy taste of beer and the full-bodied aroma of the living world around us are two things we humans have loved for as long as we can remember! And, we’re likely to keep enjoying our earthy cannabis and woodsy IPAs.
New research on the therapeutic benefits of these terpenes is neverending, so go experience a CBD strain with Humulene for yourself!