Welcome to the Talking Terpenes: Behind the Blends education series. This article collection explores the biochemistry of a common family of organic molecules called terpenes. Each month, Extract Consultants publishes two new explorations of the wellness benefits offered by terpenes and—more precisely—terpene blends. This series includes citations to peer-reviewed scientific research.
This installment of the Talking Terpenes series explores the popular Extract Consultants Bruce Banner Blend. The formulation of this special terpene profile involved careful consideration of the biomechanical properties delivered by each terpene. In addition, this blend considers the influence of the entourage effect, a theory that suggests a synergistic interplay of these aromatic compounds.
Understanding Bruce Banner Terpenes
The unique mixture of terpenes featured in the formulation of our Bruce Banner Blend results in a rare fragrance profile that is equal parts diesel, sweet, and earth. Hugo Fuego, when writing for Westworld, described the Bruce Banner cultivar as featuring “strong diesel notes up front” while citing its sweet after-scent. He described the sweet layer as subtly tropical and noted OG Kush as the source of the “earthy, hashy notes” of the popular strain.
This sometimes sativa-leaning hybrid cultivar was crossed from OG Kush and Strawberry Diesel and has been said to deliver “a harmonious and well-balanced state of mind.” The Extract Consultants Bruce Banner Blend involves several terpenes, including the five described below. Each of these phytomolecules plays a critical role in production of the aroma and flavor profiles delivered by this blend. Individually, these terpenes provide a range of medicinal benefits; together, they deliver enhanced properties.
Beta-caryophyllene, typically called BCP or simply caryophyllene, conveys an aroma dominated by pepper and spice. This terpene is produced by basil, black caraway, cannabis, cinnamon, clove, copaiba, hops, lavender, oregano, rosemary, and ylang-ylang.
Research has shown that BCP provides a range of medicinal benefits, including relief from depression, inflammation, and pain. This organic compound also displays antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The mere fact that it may be an effective therapeutic agent for inflammation makes it of value in the treatment of literally hundreds of diseases.
BCP is unique among terpenes because it has been found to interact directly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This behavior has resulted in scientists questioning the appropriateness of labeling this phytomolecule a terpene and not a cannabinoid.
More specifically, BCP has demonstrated an ability to bind with CB2 receptors in the ECS. Normally, this binding activity can be accomplished only by cannabinoids, not terpenes. Readers can learn more about this phenomenon to gain insight into the biochemical characteristics of terpenes via this 2008 research study.
A 2016 study entitled “β‐caryophyllene and β‐caryophyllene Oxide—Natural Compounds of Anticancer and Analgesic Properties” that was published in the journal Cancer Medicine investigated the ability of BCP to effectively treat cancer and pain.
In support of the 2008 study cited above, this research noted the binding characteristics of this terpene. “BCP is a phytocannabinoid with strong affinity to cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2), but not cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1),” reported the researchers.
The study’s authors found particular efficacy for BCP within the population of cancer patients. “Due to the fact that chronic pain is often an element of cancer disease, the double activity of BCP, anticancer and analgesic...is particularly valuable in oncology,” wrote the scientists.
Humulene, also known as alpha-humulene and denoted as α-humulene, has demonstrated a wide range of wellness benefits. These include therapeutic value for inflammation, cancer, and pain.
The aroma of this compound has been described as “earthy and woody” and sometimes conveys a hint of spice, depending on the other terpenes present. The fragrance of humulene has also been described as “hoppy.” This is because this terpene is produced in abundant quantities by many species of hops, one of the primary ingredients employed in the brewing of beer.
In fact, humulene derives its name from the Latin Humulus Lupulus, which means “hops” in English. Beyond hops and cannabis, humulene is produced by many species of trees. It is also found in basil, clove, and sage. Humulene is similar in chemical formula to BCP and the two share many common plant species sources. The aroma of these two terpenes is similar enough that they sometimes are confused with one other.
Humulene has displayed a variety of therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antibacterial qualities. Several research studies have demonstrated the anticancer and anti-inflammatory efficacy of this terpene.
A 2010 study entitled “Cytotoxic Activity of α-humulene and Transcaryophyllene in Animal and Human Tumor Cells” explored the ability of humulene to act as an effective treatment against cancer.
The study reported that a plant extract containing 81 percent α-humulene “exhibited high cytotoxic activity in the murine macrophage cells, colorectal adenocarcinoma cells, and breast melanoma cells.” The research also found this terpene to be a potential agent for other cancer types, noting humulene’s “strong cytotoxic activity in human prostate carcinoma.” “The sesquiterpenes α-humulene and trans-caryophyllene...had the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth,” concluded the study’s authors.
Phytol is a terpene that delivers a grassy, floral aroma that has been described as “balsamic” and “earthy.” Biochemically, it results from the degradation of chlorophyll and is produced by a variety of plants other than cannabis, including citrus, green tea, and wild lettuce. This terpene is most common in cultivars of marijuana that are categorized as hybrids and sativas.
Peer-reviewed research studies have revealed that phytol exhibits a variety of medicinal qualities, including antioxidant, analgesic, anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer characteristics. It is employed as an ingredient in the formulation of topical products to reduce itching.
A 2018 study entitled “Phytol as an Anticarcinogenic and Antitumoral Agent” published in the journal IUBMB Life investigated the ability of phytol to fight cancer, but noted an especially wide range of potential benefits provided by this phytomolecule.
The researchers reported that phytol is a terpene that is “abundantly present in nature which exhibits various pharmacological activities such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, immunoadjuvant [improved immune response], antidiabetic and lipid lowering, anxiolytic [anxiety reducing], antidepressive, and spasmolytic [muscle spasm reducing].”
Alpha-terpineol, also denoted as α-terpineol, is the most common of five closely related isomers, or sibling terpenes, within the terpineol family (the other members being beta-, gamma-, delta-, and 4-terpineol). It conveys a decidedly lilac aroma featuring heavy tones of pine.
A 2018 study1 declared that α-terpineol “is considered one of the most frequently used fragrance compounds” due to its distinct lilac aroma profile. Alpha-terpineol is employed by a variety of industry segments, including use in perfumes, cosmetics, cleaning products, foods, and beverages.
This compound is produced by cannabis and more than 150 other plant species, including eucalyptus, freesia, lemon peel oil, lime blossoms, marjoram, narcissus, oregano, pine, and rosemary. It is found commonly in cultivars of cannabis that also produce relatively rich amounts of pinene.
Alpha-terpineol has shown distinct antianxiety efficacy and may contribute to the sedative-like “couchlock” effect of some potent cannabis strains. The medicinal efficacy of this terpene is among the most diverse produced by the cannabis plant and includes antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antitumor benefits.
A 2018 study entitled “α-Terpineol, a Natural Monoterpene: A Review of its Biological Properties” that was published in the journal Open Chemistry explored the wellness benefits of this terpene.
The study noted that α-terpineol may be helpful in the treatment of diseases such as epilepsy and Dravet syndrome due to its anti-seizure activity. This is especially important due to the fact that many cases of epilepsy are untreatable with modern pharmaceutical medications. “Seizures are still considered to be unmanageable in more than 20% of...cases,” wrote the study.
It reported that α-terpineol also helps increase the bioavailability and potency of other chemicals when they are applied topically. When summarizing the α-terpineol research conducted to date, the researchers reported that “several studies have reported that α-terpineol also possesses antiulcer activity. The results suggested that it presents a gastro-protective activity by reducing gastric lesions.”
Menthol, also called “peppermint camphor,” is a common terpene that features a predominantly minty and fresh aroma that has been described as “cooling.” It features a flavor profile comprised mostly of peppermint. The cooling sensation created by menthol on human skin and when inhaled results from how this compound triggers cold receptors within the epidermis (outer layers of the skin).
According to a 20132 study, more than 30,000 metric tons of menthol are extracted from botanical sources or produced synthetically each year for use in a variety of consumer and commercial products. It is employed in cough drops, nasal inhalers, and ointments.
Menthol is commonly used by a wide variety of industries, from food to cosmetics to tobacco. It is employed to flavor cigarettes, food, liquor, and perfumes. Menthol is produced naturally by a variety of plant species, including cannabis and a range of mints. Interestingly, menthol was prescribed by doctors more than two million times in 2017 alone. It is also employed in dental care as an antibiotic.
Beyond cannabis, menthol is produced by a range of plants that includes peppermint and spearmint. It is believed to be one of the most researched terpenes and conveys medicinal efficacy involving analgesia, antibacterial properties, and relief for skin conditions such as acne and asthma.
Like many other terpenes, menthol serves as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It may also be an effective treatment for headaches, fever, and the negative side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
A 2014 study entitled “Acute Effect of Topical Menthol on Chronic Pain for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” that was published in the journal Rehabilitation: Research and Practice investigated the ability of menthol to treat the pain and inflammation associated with this repetitive motion condition.
This study, a triple-blind randomized placebo-controlled human trial, reported that “compared with placebo, pain intensity...improved [decreased] more following application of topical menthol.” The study’s authors concluded that topical menthol “acutely reduces pain intensity [in those] with [carpal tunnel] and should be considered as an effective nonsystemic alternative to regular analgesics in the...management of chronic and neuropathic pain.”
The terpenes produced by the Bruce Banner cultivar are but a few of the more than 40,000 varieties found throughout nature. While no terpene can claim exclusivity to cannabis, all cannabinoids (such as cannabidiol [CBD] and tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) are, conversely, produced by only marijuana. To learn more about the fundamental biochemistry of terpenes, see Understanding Terpenes.
The Bruce Banner Blend from Extract Consultants offers a meticulously formulated group of terpenes, in the optimal ratios, that produce an intense aroma described as diesel and sweet, with earthy undertones. Notable benefits of this terpene blend include analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, among others.
To follow this series on social media, use #TalkingTerpenes.
1Khaleel, C., Tabanca, N., & Buchbauer, G. (2018). α-Terpineol, a natural monoterpene: A review of its biological properties, Open Chemistry, 16(1), 349-361. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/chem-2018-0040
2Kamatou GP, Vermaak I, Viljoen AM, Lawrence BM. Menthol: a simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties. Phytochemistry. 2013 Dec;96:15-25. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2013.08.005. Epub 2013 Sep 17. PMID: 24054028.
About the Author
Curt Robbins is a technical writer, instructional designer, and lecturer who has been developing science-based educational and training content for Fortune 200 enterprise companies for more than 30 years. He is Director of Course Development at Higher Learning LV™ in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robbins began writing about the biochemistry and science of the various wellness molecules produced by plants such as hemp in 2003. He has since developed more than 600 educational articles about hemp and its health components—including terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and the human endocannabinoid system.