E-BCP is a typical ingredient of many spices and food plants such as basil, rosemary, cinnamon, and black pepper.
"Our results have revealed that E-BCP inhibits inflammation. Experiments on mice have shown that this substance is also effective against osteoporosis," said Professor Dr. Andreas Zimmer of the Life and Brain-Zentrum in Bonn.
Beta-caryophyllin docks on specific receptor structures in the cell membrane also known as cannabinoid-CB2 receptors and produces a change in cell behaviour.
"We have used E-BCP to treat mice with paws swollen due to inflammations. In up to 70 per cent of cases the swelling subsequently subsided," said Dr. Jurg Gertsch of the ETH Zurich.
This CB2 receptor has a "brother" by the name of CB1, which is best known to drug researchers and is found in the nerve cells of the brain.
Both receptors are part of the so-called endocannabinoid system, which researchers are finding to be of increasing significance for a variety of disorders. If this system gets out of control it can result in cardiac disorders, allergies and chronic pain, or it could even affect the memory.
"Endocannabinoids are formed by the body itself and maintain its equilibrium," said Professor Zimmer.
So in the case of an inflammation they act like a brake, preventing the immune system from over-reacting to the extent that its defensive reaction runs amok.
E-BCP might also help us to control chronic disorders as Chrone's disease, an inflammation of the intestinal tract.
The researchers believe that, E-BCP could possibly form the basis for new drugs.
The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).