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Terpenes of the Future: Humulene

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Humulene: What It Is, What It Tastes Like and Where to Find It

Also known as alpha-caryophyllene, humulene is a monocyclic sesquiterpenoid that is highly prevalent in hops (aka humulus lupulus), the only other plant in the Cannabacaea family outside of cannabis itself. Beer drinkers recognize it well for the earthy and rich smell and flavor it gives certain brews; its presence will lend such ales a taste of heady, resinous refinement. But even while it’s often overpowered by its beta brother, humulene can often be found in many plants (black pepper, ginseng and sage, for instance)  and certain cannabis varieties which also contain beta-caryophyllene. 

And just like its more prevalent pals, humulene has several things going for it, whether you drink it up at a bar or take it in a tincture. Here’s just a few of its effects.

The Effects of Humulene

humulene-1Antibacterial: Humulene was found to be effective in inhibiting the biofilms and bacteria of Baceriotes fragilis, a toxic substance that attacks within the intestines.

Digestion: Word on the street suggests that humulene could suppress appetite — a claim for which we’ve seen scant evidence. However, a paper on gastritis does posit that humulene may assist in suppressing key elements of gastritis and encouraging mucosal protective factors as well.  

Anti Inflammatory: A study determining airway inflammation in mice pitted humulene against trans-caryophyllene. In particular, humulene reduced several key inflammatory biomarkers in lung fluid which contribute to inflammation.

Antitumor: A study exploring beta-caryophyllene’s synergistic effects with humulene and two other compounds against human tumors found that beta maximized humulene’s effectiveness against certain cell lines by 75% — another example of the entourage effect in effect.

Anticancer: Humulene showed effectiveness in destroying hepatocellular carcinoma, an extremely common form of liver cancer, in both preclinical and animal models. Humulene also showed great entourage effect as well when used alongside two drugs commonly employed towards colon cancer.

Wound healing: An essential oil extracted from the leaves of Myrtaceae, a bush found in the Brazilian savanna, was explored for its ability to accelerate wound healing. Not only did humulene demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties, but also apparently encouraged the formation of new blood vessels as well. 


While not as prevalent in cannabis as beta-caryophyllene, humulene pops up in several strains, such as these:

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