What Is Humulene In Cannabis?
3 min

What Is Humulene In Cannabis?

3 min

Cannabis is rich in terpenes, and humulene is one of the most common. Besides its unique, hoppy aroma, research is looking to observe if humulene may have therapeutic potential. Dive in as we explore all you need to know about humulene in weed.

Cannabis is a complex plant containing a rich assortment of over 400 active compounds, which all contribute to its unique traits and effects. Terpenes, in particular, play a notable role both in the effects cannabis has on the body as well as its unique aromas. In this article, we take an in-depth look at humulene, one of the most common terpenes in cannabis.

What is humulene?

What Is Humulene?

Humulene (also known as α-caryophyllene) is an aromatic hydrocarbon (or terpene) found in cannabis and many other natural sources. There are more than 30,000 known terpenes in the natural world, and they are often thought of as the main components of the "essential oils" of cannabis and other plants. Terpenes are very volatile, and humulene is no different; it melts at below 25°C and has a boiling point of 106°C. If you want to preserve the humulene in your cannabis, keep this in mind when storing, handling, and using it.

Related article

Everything You Need To Know About Terpenes

Where can you find humulene?

Where Can You Find Humulene?

Humulene is one of eight primary compounds in cannabis, and is often found in strains with high concentrations of β-caryophyllene (another terpene with some similar characteristics). However, cannabis is far from the only source of humulene. It can also be found in high concentrations in:

Pine trees, orange orchards, sunflowers, and tobacco plants are also known to produce humulene.

What does humulene smell like?

What Does Humulene Smell Like?

Humulene is often described as a "hoppy", "spicy", and "peppery" terpene. Think of that characteristic, semi-spicy kick you detect when you brush past a basil plant in the garden or crack open a cold craft IPA or other hoppy beer.

Besides this hoppy, spicy, and peppery kick, humulene also has subtle woody undertones like those you might detect when opening a cedar cigar box, as well as herbal notes reminiscent of fresh basil, thyme, sage, and other culinary herbs.

Potential benefits of humulene

Potential Benefits Of Humulene

Interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabis has grown exponentially in recent years. In turn, more scientific research has been dedicated to identifying and understanding the many compounds in the plant. Much of this research has shown that, besides cannabinoids like THC and CBD, the unique terpenes in cannabis likely play an important role in the plant's supposed clinical potential.

While there's still a lot we don't know about humulene and how it works, research so far suggests that it might impact:

  • Inflammation: Fernandes et al. (2007) tested humulene's effect on oral inflammation in mouse and rat models, concluding it to display similar outcomes to animals treated with dexamethasone, a steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Rogerio et al. (2009) found similar results testing the efficacy of humulene on allergic reactions in the airways of animals.

  • Pain: Basting et al. (2019) studied the anti-inflammatory and nociceptive potential of two plant extracts rich in humulene on animals. Specifically, the study found that the two plant extracts (taken from Cordia verbenacea and Pterodon pubescens) synergised, appearing to provide more notable effects when taken together than on their own.

  • Bacteria: Jang et al. (2020) sought to determine the antibiotic effect of humulene on Bacteroides fragilis, a type of bacteria that can cause inflammatory bowel disease.

Research has also explored the effects of humulene on tumour cells, weight loss, and appetite. And while this research is very promising, we're still a long way from properly understanding humulene and its clinical potential.

Cannabis strains containing high concentrations of humulene

Cannabis Strains Containing High Concentrations Of Humulene

Humulene is among the most common terpenes found in cannabis, but it is particularly prevalent in the following strains.

1. Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) is a super-popular modern cannabis variety bred on the coast of California. GSC is known for its incredibly nuanced aroma characterised by sweet, slightly fruity overtones and a subtle spicy kick, reminiscent of freshly baked shortbread.

Girl Scout Cookies (Zamnesia Seeds) Feminized

Parents: Durban Poison x OG Kush
Genetics: 80% Indica / 20% Sativa
Flowering Time: 8-9 weeks
THC: 23%
CBD: 0-1%
Flowering Type: Photoperiod

2. Super Sour Diesel

Super Sour Diesel is to the East Coast of the USA what GSC is to the West. Diesel strains are renowned for their pungent, chemical-like aromas similar to that of diesel fuel, layered with strong hints of lemon, pepper, and hops (some Diesel strains may have a notable beer-like kick).

Original Sour Diesel (Cali Connection) feminized

Parents: Original Sour Diesel x Sour OG Kush
Genetics: Sativa-dominant
Flowering Time: 9-10 weeks
THC: High
CBD: Unknown
Flowering Type: Photoperiod

3. White Widow

White Widow is a Dutch powerhouse that's easily one of the most popular cannabis varieties on the planet. Renowned for her deeply relaxing physical effects, White Widow also has a telltale aroma that combines a classic Skunk scent with spicy, herbal undertones and subtle berry hints.

White Widow (Royal Queen Seeds) feminized

Parents: White Widow
Genetics: 65% Indica / 35% Sativa
Flowering Time: 9-10 weeks
THC: 19%
CBD: Medium
Flowering Type: Photoperiod

4. Pink Kush

Pink Kush, true to other Kush strains, is a robust variety with predominantly indica genetics. You'll hear users attest to her strong physical effects and iconic Kush aroma, which is dominated by strong, spicy hash-like notes, typical of strains native to the Hindu Kush region.

Pink Kush (Barney's Farm) Feminized

Parents: OG Kush Hybrid
Genetics: 100% Indica
Flowering Time: 9-10 weeks
THC: Medium
CBD: Low
Flowering Type: Photoperiod

5. Original Glue

Original Glue (originally known as Gorilla Glue #4) is a resin-rich hybrid cross between Chem's Sister, Sour Dubb, and Chocolate Diesel. Its aroma is best described as citrusy, herbal, and peppery, and its effects are notorious for producing a heavy-handed physical stone.

GG 4 Auto (Original Sensible) Feminized

Parents: Gorilla Glue #4 x Critical Diesel Auto
Genetics: Ruderalis/Indica/Sativa
Flowering Time: 10-11 weeks from seed to harvest
THC: 20%
CBD: Low
Flowering Type: Autoflowering

Humulene: A Summary

Humulene: A Summary

Humulene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, though it is also present in a wide variety of plants and spices. It produces a very hoppy and slightly peppery aroma, and preliminary research is trying to determine if humulene demonstrates therapeutic potential in humans. If you're keen to light up and enjoy the unique aromas of this terpene, look into one of the strains listed above. Alternatively, check out the Humulene Integra Boost Terpene Pack.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser
Steven Voser is an independent cannabis journalist with over 6 years of experience writing about all things weed; how to grow it, how best to enjoy it, and the booming industry and murky legal landscape surrounding it.
  • Basting, R. T., Spindola, H. M., Sousa, I. M. de O., Queiroz, N. de C. A., Trigo, J. R., de Carvalho, J. E., & Foglio, M. A. (2019/04/01). Pterodon pubescens and Cordia verbenacea association promotes a synergistic response in antinociceptive model and improves the anti-inflammatory results in animal models. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 112, 108693. -
  • Fernandes, E. S., Passos, G. F., Medeiros, R., da Cunha, F. M., Ferreira, J., Campos, M. M., Pianowski, L. F., & Calixto, J. B. (2007/08/27). Anti-inflammatory effects of compounds alpha-humulene and (-)-trans-caryophyllene isolated from the essential oil of Cordia verbenacea. European Journal of Pharmacology, 569(3), 228–236. -
  • Jang, H.-I., Rhee, K.-J., & Eom, Y.-B. (2020). Antibacterial and antibiofilm effects of α-humulene against Bacteroides fragilis. Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 66(6), 389–399. -
  • Rogerio, A. P., Andrade, E. L., Leite, D. F. P., Figueiredo, C. P., & Calixto, J. B. . (2009). Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene alpha-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation. British Journal of Pharmacology, 158(4), 1074–1087. -
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