Cannabis Terpenes: Humulene

A budding cannabis culture is emerging across the US in line with the rapidly spreading legalization of the plant.

Cannabis enthusiasts in green-friendly states like Illinois no longer have to hide their love in the shadows. They may profess it, study it, connect with it, and fully harness it for all its benefits and joy.

With the veil of stigma progressively vanishing, people are learning more about the cannabis plant, free to enjoy it as connoisseurs. A cannabis lover can explore the intricacies of a strain as a wine-lover does when they swish their glass around and discuss subtle notes and bouquets.

Part and parcel of this evolving appreciation for cannabis is a firmer grasp on the traits worth appreciating. 

While potency is something many recreational cannabis users value, other factors play a role in the overall fulfillingness of the experience. Colors, aromas, and flavors—derived primarily from terpene content—all impact the quality of a given strain.

Humulene is an earthy terpene present in many cannabis strains. Its effects are unique, offering a distinctive smoking or vaping experience. 

At Stash, we often advise our customers to try strains rich in humulene—we’ll explore why we do so in the article below.

What Is Humulene?

Before discussing the terpene in detail, it’s worth asking and answering the question: What is humulene?

Humulene’s primary function in plants is bolstering their defenses against agricultural pests and fungal infections [1]

Also known as alpha-caryophyllene, humulene chemically resembles beta-caryophyllene but isn’t identical. It occurs in the Humulus lupulus plant family (i.e., hops) [2]. The bitterness in humulene offsets the malty sweetness of many beers. It’s also present in basil, black pepper, sage, and ginseng [3]

Primary humulene aromas include woodsiness, spiciness, and earthiness. The taste can be bitter but balanced by an herbaceous, spicy quality.

Furthermore, humulene is a yellow-green, clear, pale liquid when separated from its natural plant material. 

What Does Humulene Do In Cannabis?

We’ve discussed humulene’s earthy bitterness, but its contributions to cannabis strains are more than that.

Even flavor and scent-wise, humulene offers versatility. It pairs differently with other terpenes, sometimes offering a citrusy or fruity odor and taste on top of its trademark floral and herbaceous aromas.

Humulene can’t interact with endocannabinoid receptors as it can’t emulate cannabinoids. However, it can contribute to the entourage effect, aiding in a more robust and immersive cannabis experience wherever it’s involved.

Generally, humulene functions best with other terpenes—a valuable part of a greater sum. 

Strains rich in humulene also have anti-pain and inflammation properties, and they can actually offset and prevent over-indulgent “munchy” sessions after smoking [4]

What Is Humulene Good For? What Are Its Therapeutic Benefits?

There is a belief that humulene produces reactive oxygen species, which function as chemicals to destroy cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth [5].

Some also think humulene offers allergy relief. It’s also in sage oil and is implemented into many traditional Chinese medicine remedies. 

Additionally, ginseng is found in humulene. In Chinese medicine, ginseng increases energy and is an antibacterial compound [6].

Humulene might have anti-asthmatic properties [7]. Humulene can also benefit Metabolism due to its appetite-suppressing capabilities when interacting with beta-caryophyllene.  

The anti-inflammatory properties are so potent in humulene that they’ve been compared to dexamethasone, a steroid recommended by the WHO [8].

Which Strains Have Humulene?

Humulene can play a role in sativas, indicas, and hybrids. It’s found in most cannabis strains, but some strains are higher than others in the terpene. 

Since humulene doesn’t directly interact with our endocannabinoid receptors, it doesn’t directly impact a “high.” Still, it’s a versatile role player in different strains.

For instance, our Gas Station Sushi sativa contains humulene and has a spicy citrus scent. It stimulates the mind and is ideal for “activity” and “chill with friends” strains. It makes you feel energetic, blissful, and creative. 

Our Candy Store hybrid is rich with alpha-humulene, unsurprisingly boasting spicy and floral notes and chockful of uplifting, soothing effects. The complex compilation of terpenes in this strain brings forth depth and nuance.

Stash’s Chem Scout indica, also possessing humulene, offers customers earthy, cake-like aromas and flavors. Additionally, it soothes, stimulates the mind, and offers pain relief, resulting in a blissful and calming experience.

Humulene’s presence in these vastly different strains shows its versatility. It enhances the effects of other terpenes to help produce high-quality cannabis that leaves a lasting impression. 

Humulene And Aromatherapy

Humulene is an essential oil component of the hops plant, found explicitly in the flowering cone. 

In fact, humulene can comprise up to 40% of the hops plants’ essential oil and is associated with the “hoppy” aroma in beer.

Humulene is in all kinds of aromatic plants worldwide. It’s present in pine trees, marsh elders, orange orchards, tobacco fields, and sunflower fields. You’ll find it in essential oils of plants such as sage, Japanese Spicebush, ginseng, ginger, and the Chinese laurel tree. It’s also present in Vietnamese coriander [9].

Identifying Humulene In Cannabis

Modern, legal cannabis is generally lab-tested and contains transparent information, such as a strain’s terpenes. Look for this information on the packaging. It should be conveyed clearly in writing.

However, information on the packaging and website product descriptions isn’t always available. Or your friends might have purchased a strain and shared it with you, removing it from its packaging. 

So, if you wish to detect humulene with the power of your nose alone, smell for spice, earthiness, and fruitiness.

You typically don’t want to rely solely on your sense of smell to detect terpenes, though. Thus,  your best bet is purchasing from trusted sources, like the team at Stash.

Our budtenders have vast knowledge of terpenes like humulene and will steer you in the right direction.

Precautions And Considerations

Contact dermatitis and asthma are associated with caryophyllene, to which humulene is connected [10].

Beyond those reasonably negligible allergy concerns, other considerations and precautions exist. 

Namely, don’t get too caught up in the potential therapeutic benefits of humulene. Yes, it can undoubtedly help you. However, the only way to maximize those benefits is through therapeutic doses.

Don’t get swayed by one exceptional cannabis experience. Less tends to be more. 

Indulging too much in any strain will inevitably dull its effects. If you double and triple down day after day, you won’t enjoy it as you once did.

Remember, too, that humulene tends to mesh with whatever strain you’re purchasing. You’ll be sleepy if it’s an indica, while a sativa will make you more alert.

Don’t apply one specific characteristic with the terpene because such assertions could lead you awry, yielding an experience you weren’t mentally prepared for. 


Humulene is a terpene with many therapeutic benefits (e.g., inflammation and appetite control), with bitter, spicy, and fruity flavors in notes.

It’s prevalent throughout most cannabis strains and contributes to the overall entourage effect of those strains.

While humulene is a dynamic terpene, it does its best work as a role player since it doesn’t interact with the endocannabinoid system. Thus, the strains containing it must be cultivated by growers who know how to harness and optimize it.

This preamble brings us to Stash Dispensary’s online menu

We’re committed to providing you with cannabis products that maximize each terpene, trichome, and all other components of a bud to improve your experience.

Want to learn more about our product offerings? Please visit one of our Illinois locations to explore our in-store selections. Or, contact us through our website with your queries. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about terpenes or anything else about our products.



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