The unique scent of cannabis isn’t coming from your favorite cannabinoids. Instead, it’s the terpenes that give cannabis its distinct odor and taste. They may also impact the intensity of the experience and convey some of its therapeutic potential.
The most frequent terpene in cannabis is myrcene, which may also be found in hops. Myrcene is present in hops and contributes to the pungent, spicy flavor of beer. It’s also present in lemongrass, which has been used in traditional herbal medicine for thousands of years.
What is myrcene?
Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis. Myrcene has an earthy aroma and flavor profile that some people identify with balsam. Some people feel it has a clove or musky scent, while others detect a similarity to cloves or musk. Myrcene, like other terpenes, is thought to be involved in the entourage effect, which implies it might help with a range of physical and mental disorders when used together with cannabinoids.
What is myrcene used for?
Myrcene is a chemical component in one of the most widely cultivated essential oils on Earth. It’s also used as an intermediate in the food and cosmetics industries. Lemongrass tea is purported to help with sleeplessness by naturally relaxing the mind, which makes it popular alternative medicine. Because lemongrass contains myrcene, you may have noticed it in a soothing tea or as an aromatic ingredient in Asian cuisine. Myrcene can be found in parsley, mangoes, and lemon-thyme chicken. Experience a double dose of the terpene by sinking your teeth into a juicy mango while drinking a bottle of beer.
What does myrcene taste like?
Myrcene is a monoterpene found in cannabis plants. Strains with high myrcene levels are sometimes described as spicy, earthy, and musky. Myrcene has been compared to ripe mango and other fruity notes with sweet undertones.
Therapeutic properties of myrcene
There are a wealth of myrcene’s therapeutic applications. Myrcene, like other terpenes, such as bisabolol, is thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect in addition to possible anti-tumor, sedative, and other health benefits.
Myrcene has been shown in laboratory investigations to reduce pain and inflammation. A 2015 study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology used human cartilage cells to look at myrcene’s potential anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers discovered that myrcene reduced cell injury and disease progression while also having an anti-inflammatory effect. They also stated that this finding necessitates further study.
The anti-inflammatory and antifungal effects of this essential oil are too numerous to mention. Its possible anti-tumor activities should be included in any list of myrcene effects. The myrcene terpene’s anti-inflammatory properties may contribute to the death of cancerous tumors, in part due to its anti-inflammatory activity. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the Korean Society for Applied Biological Chemistry, myrcene has the potential to boost human breast cancer cells’ anti-metastatic activity. Because the research was conducted on cells rather than people, further study is needed to see whether myrcene has an impact on cancer patients’ tumors.
In today’s world, cannabis strains high in myrcene have been associated with “couch lock,” or drowsiness. Although there is no scientific evidence to back up these statements, a 2002 study published in the journal Phytomedicine showed that myrcene has a sedative effect at extremely high dosages in mice. When compared to a control group, myrcene increased barbiturate sleeping time, suggesting the terpene’s potential as a sedative. The study found that myrcene, in high doses, can calm and reduce mobility in animals. Additional research is needed on the terpene’s possible connections with humans and whether it can produce couch lock.
According to a 2017 research published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, the myrcene terpene may help prevent UV light-induced skin aging. Myrcene, when used as an antioxidant, has the potential to be an effective anti-aging and sunscreen lotion additive because it functions partially as one.
How common is myrcene in cannabis?
The most prevalent terpene in today’s commercial cannabis is myrcene. When we examine hundreds of samples of cannabis flower analyzed by Leafly lab partners, this becomes apparent. On average, myrcene accounts for roughly 20% of the terpene profile in contemporary commercial strains, although individual samples vary considerably.
The most common cannabis terpene is myrcene, which accounts for around 55 percent of the overall profile. Myrcene is also the most prevalent cannabis terpene in flower. A strain’s “dominant” terpene is just the terpene at the highest concentration level. Although many more cannabis terpenes exist in a strain’s overall profile, only a limited number of them appear as dominant in modern commercial cannabis.
A random flower product from a legal state is likely to be myrcene-dominant about 40% of the time. Modern commercial cannabis lacks chemical diversity, as shown by this data. Breeders have plenty of leeway to innovate and diversify strains’ chemical profiles. They may even develop unique strains with terpene profiles that are completely new to the market.
High-myrcene cannabis strains
What strains are often connected with the greatest amounts of myrcene? These prolific strains tend to create a lot of myrcene.
- OG Kush
- Blue Dream
- 9 Pound Hammer
- Grape Ape
- Granddaddy Purple
Strains known for their indica, sativa, or mixed heritage can have a lot of myrcene, such as popular sativa-dominant hybrids like Tangie and Blue Dream. You’ll also notice that myrcene is prevalent in both THC and CBD strains.
Myrcene levels in indica and sativa strains
Although myrcene levels are one of the most common markers for determining a strain’s “indica” or “sativa” effects, it is not always reliable. We would expect to see a clear difference in myrcene levels between strains labeled as indica, hybrid, and sativa if this statement were true and correct. Indicas should have significantly more than 0.5% myrcene by weight, whereas sativas should have significantly less than 0.5%. Hybrids should be in the middle with approximately equal amounts of each type
When looking at myrcene levels in strains names based on their popular indica, hybrid, and sativa designations using lab data, we typically don’t observe this:
Flower products have comparable myrcene levels across indicas, hybrids, and sativas on average. There is also no evidence from the data to support a general guideline such as “more than 0.5 percent myrcene equals indica.”
The myth that myrcene is sedative and can cause the “couch lock” phenomenon, which many users experience after smoking cannabis, appears to be based on this idea. But do we have any proof? What evidence do you have that myrcene has sedating effects in humans?
Does myrcene make you sleepy?
In folk medicine, myrcene-rich herbal medicines have long been used to help people sleep. Myrcene-rich lemongrass infused tea has been utilized as a sedative and muscular relaxant in Mexico. It’s quite popular among German hop farmers, who are the world’s second largest (after the United States). However, it’s unknown whether any controlled research has proved that myrcene is responsible for causing sleepiness in humans; we aren’t aware of any well-controlled human clinical trials that clearly show a sleeping impact of myrcenne.
At high dosages, myrcene has been observed to have muscular relaxing properties in a few rodent tests. The same study also discovered that myrcene increased the length of sleep in mice who were given narcotics with strong sedative effects, but not when used alone. However, animal studies are usually unreliable predictors of whether myrcene can make people drowsy; more research is needed before we may say for sure whether it possesses this capability at the doses seen commonly in commercial cannabis products.
Can myrcene relieve pain and reduce inflammation?
Lemongrass tea has been used in Brazilian folklore for centuries as a restorative that is supposed to have anti-anxiety and pain-relieving properties. In 1990, scientists in Brazil published the first reported claim that myrcene reduced pain by boosting one’s own opioid chemicals in the brain and spinal cord. This was disputed by other researchers, who said that myrcene increased different brain and spinal cord opioid chemicals. Additional study is required to see if myrcene provides pain relief in people.
More study is also needed to validate myrcene’s anti-inflammatory properties. The majority of the evidence for myrcene’s anti-inflammatory capabilities comes from lab studies in animals.
Other potential benefits of myrcene
Myrcene can block the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxins produced by fungus and subsequently ingested. These anti-mutagen properties are due to myrcene’s inhibition of CYP2B1, an enzyme in the liver that promotes aflatoxin’s ability to damage DNA. Myrcene also protects us from chemical toxins such as t-butyl-hydroperoxide by preventing DNA damage. In addition to their antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits, these terpenes have anti-mutagen effects that are similar to those of other terpenes.
What’s next for myrcene research?
One of the most intriguing areas of cannabis research is on other cannabinoids. Whether or not we’re getting enough myrcene doses to achieve these effects is one of the most important questions regarding myrcene. Mouse studies have injected mice with 2mg/kg and 1g/kg (consider that an average adult male weighs approximately 80 kg) , and it’s unclear how much is required to produce a therapeutic effect in humans or whether those amounts are present in cannabis strains.
The therapeutic properties of terpenes in cannabis are just now starting to be fully recognized. Because researchers have spent the most of their time on the cannabinoids, generally in isolation, research has lagged. That appears to be changing, however. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the United States’ largest science funding agency, recently issued a call for proposals looking at terpenes and “minor cannabinoids” found in cannabis as pain relievers. Now that scientists can only access strains from certain dispensaries!