What is Farnesene?

Hops full of farnesene

Despite sounding like an incompressible scientific term, farnesene can be a much more common chemical compound than we might initially think. How much? It depends on how much you eat green apples or pears or how much you use turmeric in your foods. If you have been in contact with one of these things, then you’ve definitely had felt the farnesene smell before. 

Farnasene may not be the most common terpene found among the profile of cannabis strains but is present in a good number of them. Along with other terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids, it brings an incredible synergistic effect that makes all beneficial properties of the compounds in the cannabis strain more potent. But, what is precisely farnesene? The term actually refers to a group of six closely related sesquiterpenes and its group of isomers and stereoisomers. You can find farnesene occurring naturally among various plants like sandalwood, patchouli, ginger, turmeric, potatoes, gardenias, ylang-ylang, and cannabis.

For those interested in the medicinal side of cannabis and in all the qualities and therapeutic applications that this ancient plant can provide, we have compiled some interesting information about farnesene and what properties it can bring to your cannabis strain. 


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Farnesene Terpene Effects

Farnesene is popularly known as the compound responsible for generating the characteristic smell of green apple skin. However, researchers have found that this organic compound can also have several fascinating effects. This curious terpene results having excellent muscle relaxant, sedative, and calming effects. It is also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and recent studies have shown that organic chemicals might help with tooth care preventing tooth decay. 

Another intriguing effect of farnesene is that it acts in many plants as a natural insect repellant, functioning as a pheromone that interacts with various insects. Some studies have demonstrated that aphids release farnesene before the danger of death or when dying to warn their companions of the near threat. 

This terpene is also de responsible for the scald of some fruits. When farnesene oxidizes, it forms compounds that damage the fruit’s cell membranes, which eventually causes cell death in the outermost cell layers of it.

Farnesene Terpene Benefits

Due to recent discoveries on its beneficial effects, we have several exciting results that shed some light on the possible benefits of farnese. Among these, we can mention the following:

Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric has been used for centuries in different cultures as a natural anti-inflammatory. Recent studies have shown that such anti-inflammatory properties of this root are mainly due to its high content of farnesene.

Antibacterial and Anti-fungal: In this sense, farnesene seems to be very similar to other terpenes found more commonly in cannabis strains such as pinene, limonene, myrcene, among others. Despite not being as typically found in cannabis, farnesene turns out to have its own load of antifungal and antibacterial properties, to the point that some insects can react to this natural compound as if it were a pheromone.

Prevents Tooth-Decay: Farnesene can help fight the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is cariogenic and responsible for tooth decay. Scientists have also found this terpene to fight carcinogenic bacteria.

Improves Digestion: Farnesene rebalances bacterial levels in the digestive tract by inhibiting bacteria’s growth and helping the body return to homeostasis by killing harmful bacteria like Candida Albicans. More recent studies have shown that farnesene has beneficial carminative properties to combat intestinal spasms and cramps that cause flatulence and other digestive problems.

Antispasmodic and Anxiety Relieving: The sedative and muscle-relaxing effects of this terpene turn out to be of great help for people who deal with conditions such as anxiety, stress, or depression. These same muscle-relaxing effects of farnesene can help control spasmodic episodes such as seizures. in fact, farnesene has been found in a number of Indica strains associated with anticonvulsant properties or that may prove to help treat epilepsy.

Alpha-farnesene Terpene

Despite the similarity of the terms and the fact that this isomer belongs to the farnesene group, they cannot be seen as the same thing because small variations in both the name and the chemical bonds within a compound can make a big difference in its effects. 

In this same way, each of the isomers and stereoisomers of farnesene occurs differently. Alpha-farnesene is most commonly related to the perfumes and cosmetics industry and is produced mostly industrially and synthetically.

Beta-farnesene Terpene

Beta-farnesene or trans-beta-farnesene is actually the type of farnesene with which we are the most commonly familiar with. It occurs naturally in the skin of the green apple and in a variety of plants. It is characteristic of some strains of cannabis to which it transfers all of its properties and effects. 

Farnesene Applications

Farnesene can fall into the group of the lesser-known and not-so-studied terpenes. However, researchers have found enough information to validate a myriad of uses and applications for this amazing organic compound. Among some of the applications that farnesene can have, we can find that it can serve as a feedstock for the chemical transformation of various compounds in the industrial production of a large number of products. This is mainly because farnesene is a renewable building block for the market you want to create. Its molecular structure makes it unique and efficient as a scaffold for specialty chemical applications.

Other applications farnesene can have are as performance material, adhesives, fragrances, surfactants, stabilizers, emulsifiers, cosmetic oils, polymers, and crop protection.

Is Farnesene in Hops?

A short and straight answer to this question is yes. Farnesene (both α-Farnesene and β-Farnesene) is one of the main compounds in hops’ essential oil. It contributes an important part of this plant’s aromatic profile, giving to hops that woody, floral, citrus, and herbal smell that characterizes this crop.

Is Farnesene Used for Biofuel?

Yes. Because farnesene is a long-chain, branched hydrocarbon molecule, scientists have found that it can be used as one of the components for biofuel production. This sesquiterpene is also used for lubricants, bio-polymers, and resins. Nonetheless, the actual bio-jet production is not specified and not considered an advanced biofuel yet according to the SGAB definitions.


Thanks for reading! You might enjoy our article on Derived Terpenes, or this guide to the Best Terpenes for Sleep.