What do pot, beer, and medicine have in common? The initial answer might be, not much at all, but that would be far from the truth. Cannabis has quite a bit in common with some of the plants used to brew the delicious nectar of the gods we call beer. Specifically, cannabis is very closely […]
What do pot, beer, and medicine have in common? The initial answer might be, not much at all, but that would be far from the truth. Cannabis has quite a bit in common with some of the plants used to brew the delicious nectar of the gods we call beer. Specifically, cannabis is very closely related to Humulus Lupulus, more commonly known as hops. In fact, cannabis and hops are classified by botanists as a part of the same family, the Cannabaceae family. Both plants are dioecious meaning that they have both a male and female plant. Humans cultivate both hops and cannabis for the non-pollinated female flower. In the cannabis world, the non-pollinated female flower has been affectionately referred to for decades as sinsemilla. When directly translated to English, the word sinsemilla means “without seed”.
Not only are hops and cannabis cultivated for their prized female flowers, but those flowers share some of the same essential oils. Humulene is found in high concentrations in hops as well as many cannabis varieties such as those indigenous to the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. It is thought that OG Kush might have come from a Hindu Kush phenotype, so just about anything crossed with an OG might be high in humulene. Humulene is a sesquiterpene also known as α-humulene and α–caryophyllene; an isomer of β–caryophyllene. Humulene is found in hops, cannabis sativa strains, and Vietnamese coriander, among other naturally occurring substances. Humulene is what gives beer its distinct ‘hoppy’ aroma. Considered to be anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic (suppresses appetite), humulene has commonly been blended with β–caryophyllene and used as a major remedy for inflammation. Humulene has been used for generations in Chinese medicine. It aids in weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant.
Hops and cannabis share some uses such as aiding digestion, insomnia, and menopause relief. Controlled studies using a combination of hops and valerian, another popular sedative herb, have been shown to be more effective than a placebo and similar in effectiveness to benzodiazepines for improving sleep quality.
Humulene and other terpenes exist in all types of plants that come in all shapes and sizes. Terpenes often play the same role in protecting the plant as they do in protecting our bodies. Many terpenes including humulene are antiseptic in nature which makes them highly valuable for a living plant and highly valuable for humans. Humulene helps fight pathogens as well as strengthen the immune system by aiding sleep. Humans have benefited from these essential oils for thousands of years. Hopefully future cannabis research will reveal new medicinal uses for these ancient medicines.
Words like pot and beer have the potential to evoke thoughts of gluttony and abuse. It can be difficult to draw the connection between plants, society, and medicine. When we look past the surface we often find deeper understanding. What do pot, beer, and medicine have in common? The answer is, a hell of a lot. Cannabis and hops are among some of the oldest herbal medicines known to humans. People have used beer and cannabis to self medicate for thousands of years. Often they are used in combination for no other reason than to relax at the end of a long day. So in honor of this month’s terpene I ask that you drink a beer, smoke a joint, and remember that warm fuzzy feeling is all made possible by our friend humulene.
The Cannabis Grow Bible “The Definitive Guide to Growing Marijuana for Recreational and Medical Use” Second Edition, Greg Green, Green Candy Press 2010
National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs “The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants” Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. & David Kiefer, M.D., National Geographic 2014
Terpenes in Cannabis, MedicalJane.com