what is humulene hero brands blog cover photo

What Is Humulene?

| Spencer Beaudreault

If you have done your fair share of research on cannabis, you’ve probably heard of terpenes. Terpenes are defined as being hydrocarbons found within the essential oils of various plants, and they are everywhere.

In the food we eat.

In the various solvents we use for cleaning and sterilizing. Perfumes, oils, candles, you name it, terpenes are in it.

With every step we make as a nation towards full federal legalization of cannabis, new doors open up that allow us to further research the cannabis plant. Over the last five years, we have found strong evidence that points towards terpenes being just as important, if not more important than the existing cannabinoids found within individual cannabis strains. One of the terpenes most commonly found within the cannabis plant would be the humulene terpene. Humulene, also known as alpha humulene, differs greatly from the vast majority of other cannabis-derived terpenes.

But what is humulene exactly? What are some of the most common humulene effects? What are potential humulene benefits? How could an essential oil found within cannabis be used in our daily lives?

Let’s first discuss how the humulene terpene is currently used, and some of the potential medical benefits that may be derived through the use of this terpene.

different fruits showing what are terpenes


What are Humulene Terpenes Used For?

The humulene terpene is a naturally-occurring pale yellow to green liquid substance that is found within a wide range of plants. It is most commonly found within the humulus lupulus plant, known commonly as hops! This is in fact where humulene receives its namesake. The bitter, spicy, and herbal notes commonly associated with the hops used to brew beer can be mostly attributed to the high percentage of humulene commonly found within hops. In fact, it has been estimated that alpha humulene may in fact compose up to 40% of some hops total essential oils! Humulene is a very widespread terpene, having been found in every inhabitable continent, and hops have been used for thousands of years both as an early medicinal plant as well as during the brewing process. In addition to hops, humulene is also found in spices such as ginger, black pepper, ginseng, and sage.

But humulene may very well possess more uses than simply brewing a great IPA.

humulene terpene in hops

Recent research has suggested that the humulene terpene may very well have the ability to soothe a wide variety of aches, pains, and ailments. Several unique properties found within the humulene terpene indicate that this terpene may possess effects and benefits unlike any other terpene.

Below, we will go over several of the potential humulene terpene effects and potential humulene benefits that may be experienced from ingesting this terpene:

Anti-inflammatory benefits. A study held back in 2007 found that by giving rodents doses of humulene orally, the level of inflammation that they were experiencing diminished substantially. This can prove to have numerous implications on the effects of the humulene terpene on inflammation on a human level. While rodent studies do not of course translate exactly into human studies, it does shed some light on the potential that this terpene may very well have on inflammation based disorders. Inflammation and pain tend to go hand in hand; where you see one, you will generally see the other. Inflammation itself is kind of a broad symptom. It can arise as the result of an injury, such as a sprain or fracture, and it can also arise as the result of disorders such as Crohn’s disease or arthritis. One thing is for certain, however: all of these injuries and disorders are painful, and all of them can be debilitating for the individuals who suffer from them. If humulene has the ability to lessen some of the inflammation then, in theory, it may also be able to lessen some of the pain and allow the individual to reach some level of comfortability. That in itself is a major win for humulene. Imagine reaching for the humulene instead of ibuprofen or aspirin, which both possess chances to do long term damage to various organs.

humulene effects anti inflammation

Antibacterial benefits. Yet another commonly supported argument for humulene benefits would be the potential antibacterial properties that the humulene terpene possesses. Humulene has been shown in some situations to prevent the growth and spread of various types of bacteria. This can lead to a cleaner, safer, and more sterile environment. As bacteria becomes rapidly more resistant to the most common antibiotics used today, doctors are forced to find alternatives in order to assist patients with fighting off a wide variety of illnesses. Could humulene be used one day in a doctor’s office or hospital setting in order to assist patients with getting well sooner? This may one day prove to be a reality. As further study is held on this terpene, we will see just how effective humulene is at taking care of harmful bacteria.

Repels insects. Hops tend to grow freely with little disturbance from most insects or animals. This is believed to be because of the high level of humulene within the plants. In fact, humulene has been used in some cases as an all natural, safe insecticide. It has been found to kill mosquito larvae and repel adult mosquitos. For those of us in the United States, this can prove to be very useful as mosquitoes seem to be everywhere! In underdeveloped countries, however, this property may be able to save the lives of countless people. Mosquitoes often carry deadly viruses such as malaria and dengue fever. By killing the larvae and repelling adult mosquitoes, the humulene terpene effects could save the life of many, or at the very least, prevent them from suffering from many awful diseases.

Pain relief. In addition to the potential anti-inflammatory properties that we’ve previously discussed, another one of the most commonly reported of the humulene effects would be the potential for pain relief. It is believed that using humulene as a topical for muscle aches and general soreness can provide users with a small level of relief. This is because humulene is said to have analgesic effects. The humulene may in fact help to relax aching muscles and effectively dull minor to moderate pain. Chronic pain can be debilitating not only to the body, but to the mind as well. It can be frustrating to not be able to get out and do what you love due to physical pain, and with the ongoing opioid crisis still wreaking havoc all across the nation, many aren’t as quick to jump to painkillers as we once were. Could the regular use of humulene be the answer that an aching nation needs for their everyday pain? We’re not sure. But as of right now, we can’t rule it out, either!

Anti-carcinogen. The humulene terpene has actually been shown in multiple studies to have the potential to disrupt the growth of certain forms of cancer cells, as well as preventing these cancer cells from reforming. This of course has massive implications when considering how intense current cancer treatments such as chemotherapy are. Chemotherapy ravages the body and is notorious for the various side effects associated with the treatment. While humulene most likely will never take the place of chemotherapy or other cancer treatments, it could very well be utilized alongside other treatments one day in the hopes of treating cancer patients in a better, healthier, and most cost effective manner. Further study is needed of course before we can jump to human case studies, but the fact that humulene has been shown to have this effect on select cancer cells at all is a huge win for this hoppy terpene!

humulene benefits kill cancer cells

Mild sedative effects. Some have found that the use of humulene has the ability to relieve anxious and racing thoughts. This sedative-like effect could prove to be highly beneficial as an all-natural sleep aid, or simply in order for those who suffer from anxiety and high levels of stress to relax enough to get their daily tasks accomplished. Being able to unwind after a long day and get a good night’s rest can benefit an individual in numerous ways, and remaining calm and focused despite high levels of stress can take a day of uncertainty and turn it into a day of productivity. In both cases, the humulene terpene seems to be effective.

So what is humulene? Perhaps the most underutilized terpene that we have covered so far! With this terpene being found all across the world, and a plethora of perceived effects and benefits that can result through its use, humulene could become yet another cannabis-derived terpene that we use in our daily lives.

All of the humulene effects and humulene benefits listed in this article still must go through further testing and further trials before we can resolutely hail humulene as the next CBD, so to speak. However, the case studies that have been held so far paint a beautiful picture for this rather unknown terpene. With legalization, however, comes further research.

And with further research comes further popularity.

Until then, we’ll be keeping our eyes on this one.

humulene in hops

Spencer Beaudreault

Spencer Beaudreault is the Founder of Hero Brands, a Business Development & Marketing Expert, and a lifelong advocate & user of cannabis, hemp, & plant-based alternatives.
Tags: Terpenes