Beer. Marijuana. Mangoes.
What do these have in common (besides the fact they should be on your list of Friday night must-haves)?
Myrcene, a monoterpene, has a fruit and clove-like odor. It gets its name from a Brazilian shrub, the root of which natives believe treats various ailments like diabetes, dysentery, and hypertension.
Studies suggest this primary terpene boasts various medical benefits like improved sleep and muscle relaxation, as well as anti-inflammatory and antimutagenic effects.
Here's an in-depth look at what makes the myrcene terpene so powerful.
What is Myrcene?
Myrcene, also known as β-Myrcene, is one of the most abundant terpenes found in many plants and foods, including:
- Wild Thyme
- Fresh Mango
Its clove-like smell mixes with fruity muskiness, which gives it a prominent and recognizable smell in various cannabis strains like white widow and kush.
Here’s what it’s doing in your weed.
Myrcene and Cannabis: The Entourage Effect
I'm not high, man. You're... you're high. Man.
While all terpenes found in cannabis strain give each its distinctive smell and taste, myrcene is one that appears to play an important role in enhancing the effectiveness of THC and CBD. We call this the entourage effect (1). Basically, myrcene increases activation of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor by THC, enhancing the high effect you feel.
PRO TIP: Anecdotal evidence claims eating fresh mango, which has “high concentrations” of myrcene, approximately 45 minutes prior to cannabis consumption may increase the effectiveness and experience.
It’s thought the myrcene terpene content helps speed up THC entry through the blood-brain barrier resulting in a faster onset of your “high”. But while mangoes may contain higher levels of myrcene in comparison to other fruits, these levels may still not be enough to get credit for the effect. Plus, myrcene levels vary by harvest.
Skip the guesswork and opt for amyrcene isolate so you know the exact levels you’re getting.
What's the Strain?
Myrcene also seems to play a key role in determining whether the cannabis plant will be Indica or Sativa.
Research suggests most strains with high concentrations (.05% +) of myrcene become Indica, which gives many people the “couch lock" body high.
But myrcene also seems to have properties capable of increasing your sleep and relaxing muscles.
Let's take a look at other therapeutic benefits of myrcene.
Medical Benefits of Myrcene
Medical marijuana gets some help from myrcene. Here's how:
1. Sedative Effects (Sleep Aid)
As the means to stay reachableat all times increases, so does screen time-a social stress this cute koala will never know (sigh). This crushes our sleep quantity and quality (3).
While there are over-the-counter synthetic sleep aids, natural remedies are gaining popularity as the go-to method for falling and staying asleep.
Myrcene is one of those naturally-derived remedies.
In a study performed on mice, myrcene increased sleep duration by around 2.6 times (6).
But some doctors have a hard time prescribing their patients cannabis as a sleep aid, citing inexperienced patients who use too much and end up in the hospital.
This doesn’t mean doctors should avoid it, however.
In fact, leading terpene and cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo says:
Almost every clinical study that’s looked at cannabis-based medicines has shown an improvement in sleep... to say otherwise would be to be staring in a deep hole — a deep hole of ignorance. (4)
Instead, you can add non-cannabis derived myrcene to your products to reap the benefits.
As Russo explains:
The sedation of the so-called Indica strains is falsely attributed to CBD (cannabidiol) content when, in fact, CBD is stimulating in low and moderate doses! Rather, sedation in most common Cannabis strains is attributable to their myrcene content, a monoterpene with a strongly sedative couch-lock effect. (5)
And myrcene is not the only terp to make you sleepy.
A study showed citral and limonene also presented sedative and motor relaxant effects (6).
2. Analgesic Effects (Pain Relief)
“Analgesic” describes drugs that relieve pain. While myrcene isn't a drug, this powerful terpene may relieve pain when used in high concentrations.
In fact, there’s a long history of indigenous peoples using plants like hops, lemongrass, mango, West Indian bay tree, and cardamom-all of which are high in myrcene-for their pain relieving qualities.
Sure, you can shrug this aside as anecdotal evidence.
But the research on terps continues to grow.
One study suggests injections of myrcene significantly inhibited pain perception in mice in tests of both peripheral analgesia and Central Nervous System (CNS) modulation (7).
That’s solid news for those of you looking to move away from hardcore drugs like opiates for pain relief.
Plus, myrcene may also help reduce a symptom that often accompanies chronic pain:
3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Researchers evaluated the anti-inflammatory effects of myrcene in multiple studies.
Scientists administered yerba porosa orally to mice with inflammation in the lung lining (also known as pleurisy). The results showed myrcene inhibited the inflammation and slowed the production of nitrogen oxide (NO) and other interferons normally produced during lung inflammation. (8)
Oil from Korean mountain magnolia, which contains 12.72% myrcene, was also capable of inhibiting NO production induced by endotoxins as a signal of inflammation (10). This suggests myrcene may play a role in the oil’s anti-inflammatory activity.
While the previous studies dealt with inflammation of the lungs, other plants containing myrcene may improve inflammation of the skin.
Spaniards use essential oils derived from the Distoselinum plant to treat dermatitis and skin infections, and myrcene is the main compound present in the oil. Christina Tavares published results of her study on the plant in a 2010 edition of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. According to the findings, myrcene inhibited nitrogen oxide production to reduce inflammation of the skin (11).
4. Antimutagenic Effects
Any Fallout fans here?
Whether you like post-apocalyptic video games or not, you at least know this about science fiction plots:
Mutations = bad. Preventing mutations = good. (And don’t even mention the Hulk. When he’s angry, we don’t like him either.)
The same tends to hold true in the medical world. For example, exposure to ultraviolet light can damage DNA and this makes sunscreen a form of antimutagen.
According to a study on mammalian cells, myrcene belongs on the list of organic compounds with antimutagenic properties. It reduced the toxic and mutagenic effects of a form of chemotherapy and reduced the medication’s ability to induce sister chromatid exchange (SCE). The abnormal occurrence of SCE is a potential marker.
What are Potential Myrcene Side Effects?
We’re all about transparency here at Abstrax.
So we’ll be the first to tell you terpene isolates like myrcene need to be used as directed.
And no, you don’t have to guess - we provide science-backed safety instructions with your terps to allow for worry-free brand-building.
There’s not much so far on myrcene. One study demonstrated the terpene irritated the peritoneum in mice and suggested the “liver and stomach may be target organs for myrcene toxicity after oral administration”. (13)
Just remember the FDA considers myrcene “a food additive permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption as a synthetic flavoring substance” as long as it
- Is used in the minimum quantity required to produce their intended effect (we tell you this),
- Is used in accordance with all the principles of good manufacturing practice (we certify this)
- Is used alone or in combination with other substances previously declared safe (14)
Conclusion: Is Myrcene Worth the Hype?
Myrcene isn't known as one of the top 10 terps for no reason.
While it may demonstrate enhanced potency when paired with secondary terpenes, its medicinal benefits stand on their own in high dosages.
Studies suggest it significantly improves immune function, helps with chronic pain, and improves sleep.
You can use it to enhance your bud, your food or beverage, and even your healing lotions.
So, if you're ever reaching for an over-the-counter solution to your sleep problems or itchy dermatitis, think again. Natural solutions to chronic ailments are all around us, if only we take the time to find them.