Beta-caryophyllene, a peppery, woody, and spicy smelling terpene, is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system. The terpene binds with CB2 receptors, acts as a functional CB2 agonist, and functions as a non-psychoactive ligand. Research suggests the terpene may be promising for cancer treatment and serves as a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory component in cannabis.
One study found beta-caryophyllene, in combination with cannabinoids like CBD, provided chronic pain relief without adverse side effects when administered orally. Another found the terpene, through a CB2 receptor dependent pathway, could prevent nephrotoxicity caused by chemotherapy drugs. Another study isolated the chemical compounds of black pepper, of which beta-caryophyllene is a large constituent, and found black pepper oil contained antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive properties. This suggests cannabis strains that also contain high levels of beta-caryophyllene might be able to treat issues like arthritis and neuropathic pain.
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