Humulene: Earthy Ganja Goodness, Amazing Anti-Inflammatory in 2021 and Beyond

As I’ve written about in previous articles, terpenes are an important part of the make-up of marijuana. In addition to their contribution to the entourage effect, terpenes confer a number of health benefits for users. One of the most interesting terpenes is humulene, which is not to be confused with a name for a debutant from Georgia. . . 


Bud and Beer: Humulene is a terpene found in both hops and marijuana

All kidding aside, humulene, known for its earthy, woody, and spicy notes, is also found in abundance in clove, sage, hops, and black pepper. Although initially labeled as alpha-caryophyllene (α-caryophyllene), subsequent investigations found that “even though caryophyllene and humulene are two terpenes with the same chemical makeup, they were isomers of one another and not the same,” according to

There are several health benefits associated with humulene. The results of one experiment with both humulene and caryophyllene “revealed that oral treatment with both compounds displayed marked inhibitory effects in different inflammatory experimental models in mice and rats.” Another study found humulene to be an effective agent “for the management of inflammatory diseases” in rats. And a 2009 study found “α-Humulene, given either orally or by aerosol, exhibited marked anti-inflammatory properties in a murine model of airways allergic inflammation.” Perhaps most important, a recent study suggests that “α-humulene is a potential drug candidate for the treatment of stress-induced or alcoholic gastritis.” 

In fact, Science Direct reports that this terpene “also possesses powerful anti-inflammatory activity equal to dexamethasone in an animal model,” and “topical and systemic anti-inflammatory properties” and “is an effective analgesic when taken topically, orally, or by aerosol.” Moreover, a 2006 study found “that balsam fir essential oil [rich in Humulene] can fight against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.” Perhaps more research is needed to see how this potent anti-inflammatory could be an adjunctive treatment for people suffering from the complications of COVID-19, which often involve extreme inflammatory responses.  

Taken collectively, these studies point to natural applications to reduce inflammation in multiple parts of the body, as well as a compound that could be used in the battle of secondary infections. 

Although less prevalent than other terpenes found in marijuana, Humulene is present in several cannabis strains, including:

  • White Widow–a powerful hybrid, slightly Indica-dominant strain known for its cognitive-based high accompanied by body-relaxing sedation. True to its high humulene level, White Widow has an earthy, slightly spicy flavor profile. 
  • Super Lemon Haze- a potent Sativa strain, and winner of the Northern California’s High Times Cannabis Cup (HTCC). As the name indicates, it has a top note of citrus with base notes of woosy earthiness, courtesy of humulene. 
  • Girl Scout Cookies (GSC)–an Indica-dominant hybrid marijuana strain made by crossing OG Kush with Durban Poison, GSC provides a cerebral euphoria combined with full-body relaxation. GSC has a nice balance of earthiness provided by humulene, and a tanginess from its rich limonene concentration. 

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