β-caryophyllene in Cannabis attracts insect predatory green lacewings, as well as inhibiting insect herbivory.1 It is the predominant terpenoid in cannabis extracts, particularly those which have been heat processed.1 β-caryophyllene is also found in black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, basil, rosemary, hops and copaiba balsam. It is nearly ubiquitous in the food supply, and its pharmacological activities are rarely noted for any individual compound that also has a low toxicity, wide therapeutic index and safety.2 β-caryophyllene is an agonist for the non-psychoactive CB2 receptors.3,4 Activities include:5,3,4

  • Anti-inflammatory (via PGE-1, comparable to phenylbutazone)
  • Analgesic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Gastric cytoprotectant


  1. Andre, C., Hausman, J., & Guerriero, G. Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules. Frontiers in plant science 7, 19 (2016).[][]
  2. Russo, E. & Marcu, J. Cannabis Pharmacology: The Usual Suspects and a Few Promising Leads. Advances in Pharmacology 80, 67-134 (2017). doi:10.1016/bs.apha.2017.03.004[]
  3. Gertsch, J., Pertwee, R.G. & Di Marzo, V. Phytocannabinoids beyond the Cannabis plant–do they exist? Br. J. Pharmacol. 160, 523–529 (2010).[][]
  4. Baron, E. Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science. Headache 58(7), 1139-1186 (2018). doi:10.1111/head.13345[][]
  5. Singh, B. & Sharma, R.A. Plant terpenes: defense responses, phylogenetic analysis, regulation and clinical applications. 3 Biotech 5, 129–151 (2015).[]
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