What is Myrcene? What Does This Cannabis Terpene Do?
Myrcene, also known as beta myrcene (β-myrcene), is one of many different terpenes found within many plants, insects and essential oils.
Terpenes are aromatic oils and compounds that give fruits, plants, and some varieties of insects their unique aroma and smell.
In nature, these compounds have several purposes, including attracting or repelling predators or pollinators, aiding in reproduction, and providing protection against the elements.
Within cannabis, myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes out of more than 150 different varieties, providing cannabis strains with their unique aroma, flavour and supposed effects. Terpenes are a critical component of consuming cannabis, but not many know what they are, where they come from, or their reported effects.
This article is part of a series on cannabis terpenes and is designed to highlight one of cannabis’ most common terpenes, myrcene.
What is Myrcene?
Myrcene is a monoterpene, a class of terpenes that serves as building blocks for other terpenes. In cannabis, crystal-like structures known as glandular trichomes are responsible for terpene production.
Aside from appearing in cannabis, this terpene is also popularly used in air fresheners, as a food additive and as an essential oil. Outside of cannabis, this terpene naturally occurs in cloves, hops, mangoes, lemongrass, and thyme.
Myrcene has a rich, earthy aroma with aromatic notes of spice musk. In beer, myrcene in hops provides a peppery and balsam aroma. When found in cannabis, this terpene gives cannabis an earthy, fruity, and musky scent.
In addition to providing different cannabis strains with their unique aroma and flavour profile, research suggests that terpenes can exhibit some pharmacological effects.
When combined with other terpenes and THC and CBD, a reaction known as the entourage effect may promote relaxation, stress relief, and other psychoactive effects. The entourage effect has some scientific basis backing for it, but research regarding its effects is inconclusive.
What are the Reported Effects of Myrcene?
The research behind the effects that terpenes can deliver remains limited and inconclusive. Scientific trials conducted on mice have shown that high levels of this terpene can significantly inhibit pain perception and provide powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
High doses of myrcene, found in lemongrass tea, can also have an analgesic effect. One study found that high myrcene levels injected into mice produced analgesic and pain-relieving properties. According to the study, “this analgesic activity supports the use of lemongrass tea as a ‘sedative’ in folk medicine,” of which myrcene exists in high levels.
Additional trials conducted on mice have also shown that high levels of this terpene can also provide a sedative effect, serve as a muscle relaxant and protect against inflammation. In trials run on human cell cultures, one study has found that myrcene may have “significant anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects” and could “halt or, at least, slow down…osteoarthritis progression.”
While its supposed benefits may loom large, the data supporting its therapeutic properties remain in its infancy. With many of the clinical trials conducted on mice, it’s too early to say conclusively what role this terpene may play in humans.
Myrcene’s aromas and flavours can help consumers decide on a terpene profile to fit their taste preferences. Still, there isn’t enough research to suggest that this terpene can influence a strain’s psychoactive effects.
More Than Just Musk?
Present in mango, hops, and many other natural sources in nature, myrcene is just one of many terpenes influencing the flavour and aroma of our favourite cannabis strains. Producing an aromatic and spicy aroma, you can find myrcene as the dominant terpenes in many indica and sativa strains available today.
However, as with the supposed differences and effects that indica and sativa strains can deliver, more research is needed before scientists can say anything certain about the effects of myrcene as a terpene.
Please note that this content on myrcene and terpenes is intended to act as entertainment and a general educative aid and is not intended to act as or substitute healthcare advice from a professional healthcare service or qualified healthcare provider. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your physician or a qualified healthcare provider.