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Super Class Terpenes: Beta-caryophyllene

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

This article is brought to you by the new Higher Learning LV Core Cannabis course.


Welcome to homework assignment 1.28 of the Core Cannabis Lite Track from Higher Learning LV. When you complete this assignment, simply click the link at the bottom of the article to return to the master page for this training track.


An October 2022 study entitled "Effects of Super-class Cannabis Terpenes Beta-caryophyllene and Alpha-pinene on Zebrafish Behavioral Biomarkers" that was published in the journal Scientific Reports suggested the existence of a special subclass of terpenes that it dubbed super class terpenes.

Black pepper

"There are more than fifty cannabis terpenes most commonly found in North American cannabis strains, eight of which predominate to form a 'Terpene Super Class,'" explained the study.

The eight super class terpenes identified by this pinnacle study include alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene (BCP), humulene, limonene, linalool, myrcene, ocimene, and terpinolene. Higher Learning LV investigates each of these important terpenes in our Super Class Terpenes series.

  • Read our exclusive summary of this peer-reviewed research study here.

  • Listen to the C3 Podcast episode regarding this study here.

"More than fifty cannabis terpenes are commonly found in North American cannabis strains, eight of which predominate to form a 'Terpene Super Class.'"


Beta-caryophyllene Overview

Beta-caryophyllene (β-caryophyllene), often called BCP and sometimes simply caryophyllene, is one of the most common terpenes in cannabis/hemp/marijuana. While myrcene is typically touted as being the most abundant terpene produced by cannabis, some testing laboratories have identified BCP as the most common terpene within their test samples.

It is produced by many botanical species beyond cannabis, including basil, black caraway, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cananga odorata, copaiba, hops, lavender, malabathrum, oregano, rosemary, and West African pepper.

Black pepper is a top source of BCP

BCP was discovered in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam, the same scientist who discovered and isolated cannabigerol (CBG) and who first synthesized delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol in the same year.

In a 2008 study summarized below, German scientists observed that this terpene exhibited cannabinoid-like characteristics and interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) via the CB2 receptors located primarily in the glands, organs, and tissues of the immune system. It is via this mechanism that BCP is able to reduce inflammation—very much like a cannabinoid such as CBD, CBG, or THC. In fact, BCP is the only terpene known to bind with the CB2 receptors of the ECS.

"BCP was discovered in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam, the scientist who discovered and isolated CBG and THC in the same year."

This unique terpene delivers an aroma and flavor that is spicy and peppery, with notes of earthiness. Beta-caryophyllene can be found in the cannabis cultivars (strains) Death Star, Sour Bubble, and Sour Diesel.

Beta-caryophyllene's potential medicinal benefits include efficacy against pain, anxiety, and depression. It has also been found to show potential positive efficacy for neurological disorders associated with dementia, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's.

Multiple research studies have revealed that BCP is one of three terpenes—along with humulene and myrcene—that are commonly found together in particular cultivars and chemotypes of cannabis and hemp.

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