Humulene is one of the main terpenes in hops, from where it derives its name. Humulene is also called alpha-caryophyllene. Like beta-caryophyllene, humulene is a cannabinoid and sesquiterpene, although it does not contain a cyclobutane ring. Humulene is a powerful anti-inflammatory and an anti-pain compound. It also has anti-cancer properties. Humulene is unique because, like THCv, it acts as an appetite suppressant, showing promise for weight loss treatments.
The antibacterial activity of basal fir oil (Abies balsamea) seen to be effective with Staphylococcus aureus. At 2.6 microg/mL, humulene was shown to have a minimum inhibitory concentration, the most potent of all the terpenes evaluated in the study.
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Humulene was shown to be a good anti-inflammatory across a wide range of inflammatory markers. Its effects were comparable to dexamethasone in rat and mouse models. Humulene has been shown to have rapid onset and relatively good absorption with both oral and topical administration routes. In airway allergic inflammatory routes, humulene was shown to be effective orally or through aerosol.
Chaves JS. Pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of the sesquiterpene alpha-humulene in mice. Planta Med. 2008 Nov;74(14):1678-83.
Fernandes ES. Anti-inflammatory effects of compounds alpha-humulene and (-)-trans-caryophyllene isolated from the essential oil of Cordia verbenacea.
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Alexandre P Rogerio. Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene α-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation.
Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Oct; 158(4): 1074–1087.
Humulene was elucidated to be potent against several solid tumor cell lines. The molecular mechanism involves producing reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, and depleting natural antioxidants in the cells. Humulene was also shown to work synergistically with beta-caryophyllene in delivering the molecule to cancer cells, thus increasing the cytotoxicity of humulene on several cancer cell lines.
Legault J. Antitumor activity of balsam fir oil: production of reactive oxygen species induced by alpha-humulene as possible mechanism of action.
Planta Med. 2003 May;69(5):402-7.
Legault J. Potentiating effect of beta-caryophyllene on anticancer activity of alpha-humulene, isocaryophyllene and paclitaxel.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Dec;59(12):1643-7.
Tundis R. In vitro cytotoxic effects of Senecio stabianus Lacaita (Asteraceae) on human cancer cell lines.
Nat Prod Res. 2009;23(18):1707-18.