What is Myrcene?
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis and provides an earthy, spicy and clove-like aroma. It is is considered one of the ten primary terpenes. As well as the cannabis plant, it can be found in wild thyme, hops, lemongrass, basil and mango. It is purported to have several therapeutic effects with studies suggesting that it can fight the effects of diabetes, is a pain reliever and a sedative. According to Fundación Canna in their very comprehensive article on terpenes, “it has also been shown that the myrcene alters the blood-brain barrier, favouring the penetration of cannabinoids in the brain and increasing the effects.” This suggests that a higher myrcene content will promote better cannabinoid bioavailability.
The Most Abundant Terpene in Cannabis
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are non-psychoactive, pungent hydrocarbons secreted from hair-like trichomes alongside cannabinoids THC and CBD. Difficult to assess with the naked eye, trichomes are best observed under a magnifying glass.
Peak flowering is when terpenes are most evident, emitting aromas that can be smelled from a distance. Terpenes act as natural defence systems for the plants themselves, protecting against diseases and pests while simultaneously luring in pollinators with alluring fragrances.
Myrcene, or β-myrcene, is a lineal monoterpene carbohydrate, an essential precursor to forming other secondary terpenes and is the main component of the essential oil of wild thyme, comprising 40% of its overall composition. Myrcene acts as an anti-inflammatory interfering in the prostaglandins’ metabolic pathway. Myrcene is the sedative active ingredient of the hop, which is used in herbalism and in natural therapies to help with sleeping disorders.
Myrcene Scientific Research
Studies on laboratory animals have shown myrcene’s sedative, hypnotic, analgesic and muscle relaxant properties. Its mechanism of action has not been totally unveiled yet, but it could be that it has adrenergic and/or opiod effects, as the analgesic effect is blocked by an antagonistic opioid (naloxone). It has also been shown that the myrcene alters the blood-brain barrier, favouring the penetration of cannabinoids in the brain and increasing the effects.
In a recent study, it was shown that analysing the composition of terpenes in indica varieties against sativa varieties, a greater presence of myrceno was found in indica varieties; up to 60%-80% of their composition. It has been accepted that indica varieties are more relaxing and sedative than sativa varieties. Bringing together all the evidence, we can speculate that the effect of myrceno combined with THC can be highly physical and hypnotic, which is common in indica varieties.
Myrcene Health Benefits
- anti-inflammatory properties,
- analgesic effects
- antimutagenic influences (which alter a substance’s capacity to make a cell mutate or change)
Myrcene in Mangoes
Cannabis folklore tells us that eating a mango forty-five or so minutes before consuming cannabis leads to an enhanced high. Some people think this is just wishful thinking while others believe it to be true. If it is, the myrcene in mangoes may be the reason: it synergizes with THC and allows the cannabinoid to cross the barrier between blood and brain easier.