The Terpene Humulene

Posted by Jeri Darling on

Humulene is not as well known as other terpenes such as beta caryophyllene but is just as important. Humulene naturally occurs in clove, basil, hops, and cannabis sativa. It carries a subtle earthy, woody aroma with spicy herbal notes. This terpene is found in a wide variety of plants and has been used for centuries in holistic Eastern medicinal practices.

 Humulene, formerly classified as α-caryophyllene, is a sesquiterpene named after Humulus lupulus, a.k.a. the hops plant. Sesquiterpenes are one of the few natural elements known to travel through the blood-brain barrier. Hops and cannabis are both in the taxonomic family Cannabaceae, and humulene plays a big role in providing the same aromatic notes to both species of plants. Humulene shares the same chemical formula as its close relative, β-caryophyllene, however, the two sesquiterpenes differ in structure. Many of the same plants containing β-caryophyllene—such as basil, sage, and clove—also contain humulene, and the two have very similar aromas. (information taken from Leafly)

 Humulene is present in Balsam fir oil (a.k.a. Abies balsamea essential oil). The oil was also shown to exhibit antibacterial properties in one study and in another study, it was found to terminate cancer cells. The oil was also shown to exhibit antibacterial properties in another study. (Studies are listed below, just copy and paste the link to view).

Humulene also plays an important function in the life cycle of a cannabis and hemp plant prior to harvest. Beginning with synthesis in the trichome head, humulene and other terpenes aid in a plant’s defense capabilities by helping to deter pests and prevent fungal infestations.

Humulene is known for its abilities to help with:

  • Anti-Cancer- Researchers believe it has to do with this terpene’s ability to produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which can kill cancer cells through apoptosis
  • Anti-Inflammatory-Some studies suggest that humulene can have similar anti-inflammatory relieving effects to a pharmaceutical steroid called dexamethasone.
  • Analgesic- very potent pain-relieving properties
  • Anti-Bacterial-
  • Appetite Suppressant- Similar to THCV, Humulene acts as an appetite suppressant. If you have ever had a beer and felt full, now you know why! The humulene content from the hops contributes to this full feeling.
  • Insecticidal-some studies suggest humulene may be toxic against early third-stage larvae of malaria, dengue, and filariasis mosquito vectors.

Information taken from Leafly and




Share this post

← Older Post