Humulene Terpene Effects

black peppercorns with a wooden spoon

Cannabis and hemp have a wide array of unique potential benefits and effects to offer consumers. One’s experience can vary immensely based on a number of specific factors, many of which have to do with the combined compounds within a given strain or product.

When making their choice, many consumers immediately turn to the longstanding sativa, indica, or hybrid classification or look at the specific amount of THC or CBD in a product. While both of these details are important and may offer consumers distinct effects, we’re finding that there is even more to consider when it comes to cannabis and hemp.

Namely, terpenes are another key aspect to consider. There are a handful of prominent terpenes in cannabis and hemp, including the earthy, woody, and hoppy humulene. Sure, each terpene has its own unique aroma and flavor, but they also carry unique benefits that may further help consumers to tailor their experiences.

So if a strain is plentiful in humulene, what effects can a consumer expect? We’ve got the answers right here!

Key Takeaways

  • Terpenes are primarily known for giving cannabis and hemp their specific flavor and aroma profiles, though they can also offer specific benefits and effects on their own and in combination with other cannabis compounds.
  • Humulene is most well known as the terpene found in hops, with an earthy, spicy, and peppery flavor and aroma.
  • While research is still ongoing, consumers may turn to strains and products with humulene if they are looking for antibacterial, antifungal, or anti-inflammatory benefits, among others.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are chemical compounds present in cannabis and hemp, though they are also found in a wide array of other plants. If you happen to walk by a lavender tree and take in that floral aroma or notice the rich smell of pine while walking in a forest, those are terpenes at work!

When it comes to cannabis and other plants, terpenes are most widely known for the role they play in the aroma and flavor of a strain. While there are about 400 known terpenes in cannabis and hemp, only a handful are linked to specific effects and are found abundantly in strains.

For example, a strain that has a more citrusy flavor and scent may be more plentiful in a similarly citrus-like terpene, like limonene, while a strain with floral undertones is likely to have some linalool.

Additionally, research is finding that terpenes may offer unique benefits. This is one reason why they are so heavily utilized in topicals, bath products, and other wellness items. Take lavender, for example. A plethora of products utilize lavender, and it’s likely because it's rich in the linalool terpene — which has been shown to offer a number of therapeutic benefits. In this context, its stress and anxiety relieving properties are likely most relevant.

The same is true for terpenes in cannabis, which may offer a number of benefits both on their own and in synergistic combination with other cannabis and hemp compounds.

What do Terpenes do in Weed?

Even if you aren’t explicitly familiar with terpenes, you’ve likely interacted with them if you’ve ever smelled or smoked a cannabis or hemp strain. However, there is surely more than meets the eye when it comes to terpenes.

Terpenes: Flavor and Aroma

One of the most obvious functions of terpenes is producing the aroma and flavor of cannabis and hemp strains; the more robust a strain’s terpene profile, the more pungent the aroma and well-rounded the flavor is likely to be.

Many consumers also find that they will enjoy the effects of a strain if they like the aroma. Some say that “the nose knows!” This could be in part because of the additional effects of terpenes and how they interact with our bodies.

Terpenes: Specific Effects

While aroma and flavor are important, it’s increasingly accepted that terpenes have a greater role to play when it comes to cannabis and hemp.

Specifically, they may enhance the entourage effect, a theory which deems that the sum of all cannabis compounds together is actually what encourages specific effects rather than simply THC, CBD, or a sativa/indica/hybrid classification. Essentially, a strain with a rich cannabinoid profile along with plentiful terpenes and flavonoids is believed to have more profound effects than, say, a pure THC extract.

While research is still catching up and uncovering the full picture, we’re also finding that terpenes by themselves may offer specific effects and benefits for our bodies. For example, you may go with an indica if you’re looking for pain relief, sedation, and help with sleep, though strains and products rich in specific terpenes could also help to provide additional aid. The same is true for a range of other symptoms.

Think about essential oils, which prominently utilize terpenes. These products heavily rely on the potential benefits terpenes have to offer and are already utilized by many consumers to help encourage specific effects and symptom relief.

So, where does humulene come into play?

What is the Humulene Terpene?

Humulene stands apart from other terpenes with its earthy, woody, and spicy notes reminiscent of hops, black pepper, ginseng, and more. It’s somewhat similar to beta-caryophyllene, though it has a different arrangement of atoms within its molecule and is indeed a distinct terpene. This terpene is sometimes easy to detect, though it can easily be masked by more fruity or citrusy terpenes.

It’s also considered a sesquiterpene, meaning it has one-and-a-half times more molecules than regular, or monoterpenes, and offers a stronger odor and more diverse chemical composition than others. Sesquiterpenes are also known for their potential anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Humulene Terpene: Effects and Benefits

As it has been used in therapeutic essential oils and medicinally for centuries, humulene is widely believed to have a number of specific effects with research steadily confirming many of these potential benefits.

One study found that humulene could help to terminate cancer cells in combination with phytocannabinoids and other terpenes. Similarly, it could offer anti-tumor properties.

Other research looking at humulene underscores its potential antibacterial effects while also noting anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. The study isolated humulene from the essential oil Cordia verbenaceae, which demonstrated notable anti-inflammatory effects through oral treatments. Authors noted that the anti-inflammatory effects were comparable to those observed in dexamethasone, a steroid anti-inflammatory medication.

Additionally, a study looking at the effects of a number of terpenes found that humulene could offer anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic effects.

Another study looking at the properties of balsam fir essential oil, which contains humulene, noted its antibacterial properties, specifically working to fight against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus when administered in small quantities.

Anecdotal evidence has also suggested that humulene may have appetite-suppressing qualities, specifically when working synergistically with cannabinoids like THC-V.

It’s important to note that studies around humulene, and specific terpene benefits as a whole, is still ongoing and can be somewhat limited. We’re only just starting to turn our collective attention toward the potential health benefits that terpenes can offer us, especially when it comes to the bigger picture of cannabis and hemp, though it’s likely that we will only continue to learn just how these compounds can serve us as research continues.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, cannabis and hemp are both complex plants, and there is much more to consider than simply cannabinoid content or whether a strain is on the sativa or indica side.

Many will attest to the aroma and flavor as being crucial elements of a cannabis or hemp experience, and that is likely because of the broader impact terpenes have in relation to specific strains, products, and their effects on our bodies.

Humulene appears to offer a range of effects, from potential antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s important to note that this research is still ongoing, but if you’re looking to enjoy some of these effects from your next smoke sesh and beyond, choosing a strain with plentiful humulene could be the way to go!


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Buckle, J. (2015). Basic Plant Taxonomy, Basic Essential Oil Chemistry, Extraction, Biosynthesis, and Analysis. Clinical Aromatherapy, 37–72.

Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., Shbiro, L., & Weller, A. (2020). The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Current Neuropharmacology, 18(2), 87–96.

Fernandes, E. S., Passos, G. F., Medeiros, R., da Cunha, F. M., Ferreira, J., Campos, M. M., Pianowski, L. F., & Calixto, J. B. (2007). 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.

Fidyt, K., Fiedorowicz, A., Strządała, L., & Szumny, A. (2016). β‐caryophyllene and β‐caryophyllene oxide—natural compounds of anticancer and analgesic properties. Cancer Medicine, 5(10), 3007–3017.

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Tan, J. W., Israf, D. A., & Tham, C. L. (2018). Major Bioactive Compounds in Essential Oils Extracted From the Rhizomes of Zingiber zerumbet (L) Smith: A Mini-Review on the Anti-allergic and Immunomodulatory Properties. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9. 

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