Terpene Tuesday: Everything You Need to Know about Myrcene Flavor, Fragrance, and Health Benefits
In this post:
- How do terpenes work
- Terpenes and the entourage effect
- Myrcene research
- Do terpenes get you high
- Nutritional sources of myrcene
- Cannabis strains high in myrcene
- Reported myrcene benefits
While terpenes appear in varying levels across cannabis strains, one terpene has dominated the buds of commercially grown cannabis: myrcene. Pronounced “mur-seen,” this terpene is found in numerous places throughout nature, including cannabis, mangos, and herbs. It has an earthy, musky scent you may recognize from bay leaves, fresh hops, and many popular strains of cannabis.
Myrcene has a calming and sedative effect on the system, contributing to lemongrass tea’s holistic effects. With such an abundance in nature and cannabis, you may wonder why you haven’t heard of this terpene before. Unlike limonene or linalool, myrcene isn’t commercially marketed for its scent and is better known in cannabis and beer-making circles.
Since myrcene is so abundant in modern cannabis strains, you may have come across it without even realizing it. With our handy guide to myrcene, you’ll be able to recognize this terpene the next time it comes around (and it will!). Here we have a guide to myrcene’s wellness benefits and how it affects your favorite cannabis and hemp strains.
What Do Terpenes Like Myrcene Do?
Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds found in plants to help protect them from predators, attract pollinators, and survive extreme weather. While terpenes exist throughout nature, they play a unique role in the effects of cannabis (but we’ll get to that in a minute). Every cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile, which helps determine the look, smell, taste, and effects.
These terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to produce the physical and mental effects we experience. Terpene profiles can explain why two cannabis strains with the same amount of THC can have different outcomes.
These terpenes have direct physiological effects on our bodies. Strains high in myrcene are known to be calming, relaxing, and deliver a powerful high.
Myrcene gets its name from the Mycia sphaerocarpa, a medicinal shrub native to Brazil used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, and hypertension. Like other terpenes, myrcene has health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, pain relief, and a sedative effect on the system.
Myrcene Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
The “entourage effect” is a fancy term to describe how cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create each strain’s unique effects.
Previously, people thought isolating cannabinoids like THC was the best way to get the most targeted healing benefits. But continued research has shown that the entourage effect is responsible for much of what we once attributed to THC. The “entourage” of chemical compounds provides greater benefits than isolated cannabinoids alone. By working together, terpene and cannabinoid combinations can deliver a far more powerful effect than any individual compound.
Being the most common terpene found in modern cannabis strains, myrcene is essential to the entourage effect. The amount of myrcene present in a strain can help determine its effects. If the myrcene concentration exceeds 0.5%, the strain will have a more soothing, calming effect. The strain will have more joyful or mood-boosting effects if the myrcene concentration is less than 0.5%.
- Myrcene has been shown to have sedative and calming effects on the system, including relaxing muscles and an anxious mind.
- Studies show that myrcene reduces pain by inducing antinociception, the body’s response to potentially harmful stimuli, as well as increasing the brain and spinal cord’s opioid chemicals.
- Myrcene and other common cannabis terpenes were found to have antimicrobial properties in a 2001 study.
- A study on the anti-inflammatory activity of essential oils found that both myrcene and limonene can reduce inflammation by inhibiting nitric oxide production.
- Myrcene showed potential to block cancer-causing effects of aflatoxins produced by fungi in a recent study on rats.
- Myrcene and linalool were found to have a substantial protective effect against DNA damage and act as antioxidants in a 2009 study.
Do Terpenes Like Myrcene Get You High?
No, terpenes consumed on their own cannot get you high. But due to the entourage effect we mentioned earlier, myrcene works in tandem with other cannabinoids and terpenes to create a unique impact on each strain.
Because myrcene is so abundant in today’s cannabis strains, it’s essential to the entourage effect. Strains high in myrcene are often associated with a quick and powerful high due to myrcene’s role in facilitating the transport of cannabinoids to your brain by enhancing transdermal absorption. The widespread availability of myrcene and its effects on the blood-brain barrier make it a key player in delivering a well-rounded experience.
Sources of Myrcene
Even if you haven’t heard of myrcene, you’ve probably come across it before. Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis and hops, and you may recognize the musky, earthy scent.
But this abundant terpene is found in a variety of other places you may not expect. Here are some familiar sources of myrcene in your day-to-day life.
- Mangos are perhaps the best-known source of myrcene in nature, but it’s not the only place. You can also find myrcene in ylang-ylang, a yellow, star-shaped flower blooming on a tree native to India.
- Raise a glass to myrcene! The primary terpene in hops, myrcene, is often expressed in beers with a spicy or peppery taste. In herbal medicine, myrcene-heavy lemongrass is usually made into a soothing, tranquilizing tea.
- Gardeners can find myrcene in their rows of bay, parsley, cardamom, lemongrass, and wild thyme.
- Myrcene is popular in the commercial perfume and cosmetics industry, acting as an intermediary for ingredients.
Which Cannabis Strains Have the Most Myrcene?
Myrcene is incredibly common in cannabis, taking up an average of 20% of the terpene makeup of modern commercial strains. However, myrcene levels vary from strain to strain, and several strains have a higher percentage than others.
A few myrcene-dominant strains include:
- White Widow: This earthy strain has strong pepper and cedar notes and delivers a long-lasting high that starts with a relaxing haze and gives way to a euphoric buzz.
- Blue Dream: This sativa-dominant hybrid gives off powerful aromas of blueberry and delivers a total body high and serious cerebral stimulation. Perfect for your next creative session.
- Grandaddy Purple (GDP): This popular strain has many names and is best known for its stunning color and aroma of grape and berry. An indica hybrid, GDP delivers feelings of euphoria and relaxation and is perfect for managing stress, insomnia, and pain.
- OG Kush: This internationally known strain has a unique terpene profile with an earthy aroma of fuel, skunk, and spice. The euphoric high is perfect for kicking back after a long day and works well to stimulate the appetite.
- Cherry Pie: Hailing from Granddaddy Purple and F1 Durb, this hybrid strain offers colorful buds with orange hairs, aromas of cherry pie, and a giggly high that’s the perfect way to take the edge off a stressful day.
- Remedy: A CBD-forward strain, this yellow bud delivers feelings of relaxation without pronounced head and body effects.
- Strawberry: This uplifting strain delivers a sweet berry scent and is a popular choice for combating anxiety and stress as well as reducing pain.
Reported Myrcene Benefits
Myrcene has a multitude of reported health benefits, including:
- Pain relief: Myrcene has an anti-inflammatory effect, addressing the root cause of chronic pain by reducing inflammation in cells surrounding nerve endings.
- Relaxation: Myrcene has been shown to sedate and reduce locomotion in animals and can help stop a restless mind and allow you to settle into a Netflix binge.
- Better sleep: Myrcene increases the flow of cannabinoids to your brain and helps you achieve a calming high that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Muscle Relaxer: Myrcene-strong lemongrass tea has long been used in holistic medicine as a sedative and muscle relaxer.
- Anti-tumor properties: A 2015 study suggested Myrcene can encourage anti-metastatic activity and contribute to tumor death.
- Natural Aging: One study showed that myrcene could protect skin against ultraviolet light, which helps slow wrinkle development and aging.
The Bottom Line
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in today’s commercially grown cannabis strains. It offers powerful feelings of relaxation, mood-boosting, and relief from pain and stress. Myrcene is easy to find at any given dispensary, but you should still read the Certificate of Analysis (COA) to ensure quality before you purchase.
Every cannabis product you purchase should have a COA from a verified testing laboratory. All COAs should list the cannabinoid contents and safety information, but the best brands go further to include the terpene profile. Understanding the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of your cannabis allows you to develop a deeper awareness of each strain and how it affects you. Ask your budtender about which brands test for terpenes to find a product that fits your specific needs.
At ACS Laboratory, we test for a total of 38 terpenes, including Myrcene. Although terpene testing is not part of the mandatory statewide panel for Cannabis or Hemp, by testing for Terpenes and making that information readily available for consumers, a brand can differentiate itself and shine a light for those navigating through the complex road of cannabinoid science.