Humulene is along the more prominent terpenes found in the cannabis plant, yet its use, availability, and effects on the human body are only beginning to be studied and, more importantly, collectively understood. As the cannabis industry picks up steam across the US, cannabis terpenes such as humulene are being sold as flavor enhancers and are sometimes even listed within product descriptions at your local weed dispensary, begging the question: does it truly affect your high as well?
A Robust Smell, Indeed
Humulene is one of hundreds of naturally occurring terpenes found in plant life across the globe. While hundreds of strains of cannabis may have humulene found in them, the unique smell brought about by humulene is not specific to the cannabis plant. It occurs naturally within other plant species as well, including hops, sage, basil, and black pepper.
Terpenes can be generally understood as the naturally occurring molecular component to scent. The smell of marijuana is known to be complex, musky, fruity, and more. Cannabis terpenes are the origin of the olfactory onslaught weed is known for, not the cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.
For those who know it, the scent of fresh cannabis remains unequivocally distinct. Humulene adds to the flavor and smell of marijuana in a number of ways. For instance, Humulene is the terpene giving hops, and therefore India Pale Ales everywhere, their distinct floral bitterness. When translated to marijuana, this can signal floral, sweet, yet bitter earthy notes.
Flavor Is Not the Only Effect
Cannabis terpenes, much like the hundreds of cannabinoids also found in nature, are thought to aid in the effect of marijuana. Humulene is a terpene and, therefore, is likely associated with the generalized spectrum of effects which marijuana use is known to produce. This is known as the “Entourage Effect.”
The “Entourage Effect” posits that marijuana is more therapeutically beneficial when administered as whole plant product. Each cannabis terpene may have a general therapeutic effect, yet when combined with the full spectrum available within the cannabis plant, the effect seems to be larger and, therefore, more beneficial to medical practitioners, researchers, and those using the plant for much-needed relief.
The therapeutic benefits of humulene, as mentioned earlier, are still being investigated. The total of current research, however, has provided some key insights into the potential benefits this molecule can bring to your cannabis experience beyond a great flavor.
Here’s the deal:
Humulene Potentially Helps in the Treatment of Cancer
There are several cannabis terpenes which researchers have suggested could aid in the treatment of cancer. Though any statement claiming to help cancer can come under scrutiny from the FDA, researchers continue to push forward with cannabis-related cancer studies. This includes a 2007 study on interaction between the terpene humulene and β-caryophyllene (another terpene) on cancer cells.
Humulene Is a Potential Anti-bacterial
Again, several cannabis terpenes and cannabinoids have been associated with having anti-bacterial properties. In 2007, a study was able to test essential oils from the balsam fir, determining not only that humulene was present, but that the substance actively helped fight bacterial growth.
Humulene is a Potential Anti-inflammatory
The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis are well-known. Could the terpenes play a role in this? Evidence from a 2009 study suggests they might. The study evaluated the aerosol application of humulene in producing a reliable anti-inflammatory effect on factors causing inflammation.
Inflammation is a broad category of biologic reactions that can include allergic reactions, sore muscles, indigestion, etc… Cannabis terpenes such as humulene, research suggests, have the ability to reduce the expression and transcription of inflammatory messaging between cells in the body, potentially limiting overall inflammatory response.