Cannabis Terpenes and Their Effects, Part 3: Ocimene, Terpinolene, and β-Caryophyllene

Of the roughly 140 terpenes that have been identified in cannabis so far, about 30 are considered “common” and we’re exploring nine of those. In Cannabis Terpenes and Their Effects, Part 1, we looked at Phellandrene, Linalool, and Pinene. In Part 2, we explored Myrcene, Humulene, and Limonene. Now let’s take a look at Ocimene, Terpinolene, and β-Caryophyllene to finish the series out.

Terpinolene for Sleep

Terpinolene is a central nervous system depressant, making it a potent sedative. It has been shown to induce drowsiness and prolong sleep and may contribute to cannabis’s well-earned credentials as a sleep aid.

  • Other medicinal properties: antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant; possible cardiovascular benefits from preventing the buildup of LDL cholesterol; may inhibit cancer cell proliferation
  • Mood effects: relaxing and calming but uplifting
  • Aromatic profile: floral, herbaceous, woody, piney, citrusy
  • Common plants with Terpinolene: lilacs, sage, rosemary, nutmeg, cumin, conifers, cypress, tea tree
Terpinolene for sleep

Terpinolene is the dominant terpene in Jack Herer and can be found in most of its crosses, including Blackjack, J1, Super Jack, XJ 13, Pineapple Jack, and Royal Jack Automatic. It is also found in Dutch Treat, Golden Pineapple, Ghost Train Haze, Chernobyl, Orange Cookies, and Super Lemon Haze.

β-Caryophyllene for Pain

β-Caryophyllene is unique among terpenes because it interacts directly with the endocannabinoid system’s CB2 receptors and is also considered a phytocannabinoid. This allows it to work as a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic, effective against severe conditions such as back pain, osteoporosis, and colitis. It can also be applied topically, making it a useful local anesthetic – in fact, clove oil, which is rich in β-Caryophyllene, has been used to treat dental pain for centuries.

  • Other medicinal properties: cellular and skin health, anxiety and depression
  • Aromatic profile: spicy, woody, and sweet
  • Common plants with β-Caryophyllene: black pepper, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, and oregano
caryophyllene for pain management

Look for β-Caryophyllene in cannabis strains such as GSC, Royal Cookies, Candyland, and other strains in the Cookie family, as well as OG Kush and White Widow. It is also orally bioavailable! Juicing cannabis or eating black pepper, rosemary, basil, or oregano bring many of the medicinal properties of this spicy terpene.

Ocimene for Health

Essential oils containing Ocimene have shown scientific evidence of being an antiviral (SARS, herpes), antifungal (ringworm), anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. Someday, it may be used to help control type-2 Diabetes and hypertension… but much more research is needed.

Lab studies of terpenes and their effects don’t account for cannabis consumption, as compared to essential oils for example. A case in point: if any of the suspected medicinal properties of Ocimene are to be reaped from cannabis, it is recommended to vape at a very low temperature, because Ocimene’s boiling point is a relatively low 150°F (66°C). Typical smoking and dabbing likely burn up the potential benefits of Ocimene.

  • Mood effects: uplifting and energetic
  • Aromatic profile: sweet, floral aroma, found in orchids; herbaceous and citrusy
  • Common plants with Ocimene: basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, kumquats, and bergamot
Ocimene for Health

Ocimene can be experienced in cannabis strains like White Fire OG, OG Kush, Lemon Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough, and Golden Goat.

Terpene Testing

It’s important to note that, even within specific strains of cannabis, the terpene profile can vary widely. One test may indicate that Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene in Jack Herer, while another test detects more Terpinolene. Nobody is exactly right or wrong. The terpene profile is determined by the individual plant genetics as well as how it is grown. This makes it hard to judge terpenes and their effects on each of us personally. I would love to see California adopt the Nevada testing requirement to show the exact terpene content, in addition to the cannabinoid content, of the products we are sold.