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Tap Into Terpenes: Learn About Humulene

Humulene might not be the most dominant terpene, but its presence is as undeniable as it is memorable: this terpene is primarily responsible for the unmistakable scent of cannabis. Beyond its odor, humulene may have relaxing and pain-relieving properties on its own, but much remains to be learned about how and why it does what it does. Here, we’ll detail what we know about humulene and what you can expect when consuming cannabis products with prominent levels of this terpene.

Humulene: the basics

  • Flavors: Crisp, hoppy
  • Aromas: Pungent
  • Effects: Potential anti-tumor, analgesic, sedative effects
  • Often found alongside: Myrcene, beta caryophyllene, limonene
  • Also found in: Hops, basil, cloves, sage

Humulene is commonly found in a wide range of popular cultivars (strains), from GSC to Super Lemon Haze to White Widow, but it’s rarely the dominant terpene. The scent and taste of humulene could be likened to a hoppy beer, such as an India Pale Ale (IPA) (1). Humulene produces a pungent aroma and crisp taste, which is evident in cannabis strains in which humulene is present in high amounts. When you catch a whiff of that characteristic cannabis smell, that’s due to the plant’s humulene content.  

Medicinally, humulene is a terpene that we still don’t know a lot about. A handful of animal studies and anecdotal evidence have indicated that humulene has anti-tumor, pain relieving, and sedative properties, but the scientific community is still gathering data on how this terpene may help mitigate some of the most pressing health conditions. 

How does humulene make you feel?

Humulene’s clinical effects are less understood than more major terpenes like myrcene or beta caryophyllene. However, anecdotal evidence suggests it could offer relief from insomnia, depression, anxiety and digestive disorders[2]. In a review of several studies focused on humulene, researchers wrote that humulene’s purported effects are “not yet recognized by modern science, but humulene and its derivatives have shown anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and anticancer potential.”

Two animal studies seem to reinforce the idea that humulene could mitigate the effects of inflammation to some degree[3], [4]. While promising and excited to see, it’s important to note that animal studies do not always translate to similar effects in humans. Additionally, in each of these studies, humulene was given to laboratory mice orally – consuming it via inhaling cannabis could significantly alter the effects researchers observed in these studies. Therefore, it remains unclear exactly how humulene might make you feel.

Which strains are high in humulene?

Humulene is often found in low volumes in the strains it is present in. A high amount of humulene in cannabis flower is about 0.5%, whereas most major terpenes are considered significant when they reach 1% or greater. In concentrates and cartridges, humulene content can sometimes exceed 1.5%, and in edibles humulene can near 2% volume by weight. Overall, though, humulene is typically second fiddle in most terpene profiles.

Here’s a closer look at some strains that contain a significant amount of humulene:

  • Layer Cake: In Layer Cake, humulene comingles with limonene, beta caryophyllene, and myrcene to offer a mood boosting and relaxing experience. It is an indica-dominant hybrid notable for its high THC content.
  • East Coast Sour Diesel: East Coast Sour Diesel primarily contains beta caryophyllene, myrcene, and limonene, with hints of humulene in the background. The terpene profile of this strain combines to create a euphoric and energetic experience, making it a top choice for stress alleviation and mood elevation.
  • GG #4: GG #4 is well known for its relaxing and euphoric consumption experience, so it’s no surprise that it’s typically high in beta caryophyllene. By its peppery, citrusy, and herbal aroma, you can tell that myrcene, limonene and beta caryophyllene are all found in high amounts, with a hoppy contribution from low levels of humulene. This terpene combination delivers a stress alleviating and pain-relieving experience.
  • White Widow: White Widow is a balanced hybrid strain known for its euphoric effects, making it a go-to choice among consumers for stress relief. Some consumers also report White Widow as effective for managing pain. Humulene appears alongside myrcene, beta caryophyllene and limonene in this strain, as you might expect in lower levels than these more prominent terpenes.

Humble humulene should not be overlooked

While humulene is not present in most strains in high amounts, nor have its clinical effects been confirmed by researchers, it’s still notable because of how frequently it appears in strains of all kinds. As such, it’s important to keep studying to confirm its purported effects. At the very least, humulene makes for an aromatic and flavorful addition to many cannabis products.

Remember: the effects of terpenes do not occur in a vacuum. They are influenced by the other compounds and what proportions they are present in. This process, called the “entourage effect,” is one of many concepts researchers are learning more about each day. Here at Ethos, we’re proud to be a part of that research: we have partnered with Thomas Jefferson University to drive cannabis research forward, answer these outstanding questions, and apply what we learn to help more patients.

Always check the Ethos menu to see what is available before choosing a product, and if you have questions while browsing the menu, discuss your options with an Ethos associate. We are happy to help you find the best product available to suit your preferences and goals.

Sources:

1. Humulene – Cannabis Aficionado: https://cannabisaficionado.com/humulene/

2. Medicinal properties of terpenes found in Cannabis sativa and Humulus lupulus: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30096653/

3. Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene a-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30096653/4. Anti-inflammatory effects of compounds alpha-humulene: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17559833/

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