What is Myrcene and what are the effects of this terpene?
Have you ever tried a cannabis variety which gave you a particularly enjoyable and relaxing feeling of sedation? The deliciously comfortable sense of deep relaxation may not be due to just the THC and other cannabinoids. Recent research suggests that the terpene Myrcene may play a huge role in modulating the high from cannabis, helping to amplify the relaxation and calming experience. Read on to find out more.
What is Myrcene?
Myrcene is a monoterpene. These are one of the simplest families of terpenes. Myrcene can be found in cannabis, but is also found in mango, bay leaves, thyme, cardamom, hops and several other plants. It is a natural organic hydrocarbon produced from photosynthesis. When the essential oils and terpenes are removed from cannabis by distillation, Myrcene has been shown to be present at levels between 40% and 65% according to a Swiss research paper. Myrcene has an earthy aroma, with some musky/spicy scents and perhaps a touch of cloves.
Myrcene in cannabis
Myrcene is one of the more common terpenes found in cannabis. In The Netherlands, the Government approved cannabis varieties include Bedrocan, Bediol and Bedrobinol. These have been analysed by Dutch University researchers. The researchers analysed the vapor released by each cannabis variety in a standard ‘Volcano’ vaporizer. The full research paper is here. The 5 most common compounds found in the cannabis vapor were as follows:
Bedrocan: THC, Cannabigerol (CBG), Terpinolene, Myrcene, and cis-ocimene
Bedrobinol: THC, Myrcene, CBG, Cannabichromene (CBC), and Camphene
Bediol: CBD, THC, Myrcene, CBC, and CBG
The analysis shows that Myrcene is one of the most abundant and important terpenes found in cannabis. Sometimes, only the major cannabinoids are present in greater quantities.
What are the uses of Myrcene?
Like many terpenes found in cannabis, and other plants, Myrcene has uses as a natural aroma and flavor. In beer, low amounts of Myrcene adds a pleasant hint of peppery and balsam aroma. The perfume industry uses Myrcene as an intermediate compound for the creation of other aromatic materials.
What are the properties of Myrcene?
Recent studies have shown some interesting an unusual properties of Myrcene. Cannabis users will be interested to note Myrcene has been shown to have sedating properties as well as anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relieving) properties and a muscle relaxant. This study was made into the effects of Myrcene as a sedative. The research group studied Mice and found Myrcene acted as a motor (muscle) relaxant and sedative. Myrcene also affected sleep, it didn’t cause sleep onset any earlier than usual, but it did increase sleep duration. For some medical cannabis users, a relaxing body stone followed by good quality sleep can be extremely valuable.
Myrcene as an anti-inflammatory
Osteoarthritis researchers have studied Myrcene and it’s effects relating to osteoarthritis. The full study is here, and summarised that: “Myrcene has significant anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects in human chondrocytes and, thus, its ability to halt or, at least, slow down cartilage destruction and osteoarthritis progression warrants further investigation.”
This research is significant since there are no conventional ‘cures’ for osteoarthritis. Therefore any research that can slow down the degenerative effects of arthritis will be of great interest and value. What is also interesting about this particulate study is the use of the phrase “…Myrcene has significant anti-inflammatory .…” Clearly the research team feel that Myrcene has a major role, rather than a contributory role, in the fight against osteoarthritis.
Myrcene and pain relief. The lemongrass tea connection
Cannabis users often think of cannabinoids as the main defence against pain. But a recent study suggest that Myrcene is itself capable of reducing pain. This supports the traditional stories and herbalist reports that Lemongrass Tea (which contains Myrcene as a major constituent) is helpful in the quest for pain relief. It’s interesting how traditional herbal remedies are often found to have firm scientific foundations! This article by the Canna Foundation also indicates some useful pain relieving properties from Myrcene.
Mango and cannabis. Can Mango increase the cannabis high
Mango contains Myrcene, a fact which has led many cannabis lovers to ask if eating a mango can increase your high. The first comment to make is that Myrcene absorbed from a cannabis vaporizer is absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the lungs. Myrcene absorbed from a Mango has to be digested before the Myrcene can be released. That may take an hour or two, depending on the speed of your metabolism. This would mean you would have to eat a mango or two 1-2 hours before you enjoy your cannabis, and hope that the timing works.
One other consideration is that Myrcene can modulate your high, not transform it into something completely different. Don’t expect Mango to increase the intensity of your high. However it may produce a subtly different effect. Expect smoother and more sedating feelings, but don’t expect the high to challenge the best weed you have ever smoked.
Myrcene and home grown cannabis
One benefit of growing your own cannabis at home from feminized cannabis seeds or autoflower seeds is the increased control over your genetics, the way you grow them and the way the buds are cured. Cannabis sold by some dealers has often been cured too quickly. This can mean that the buds are far too dry as a result. Dry buds, with reduced terpene content can result in a disappointing smoke, lacking in flavor and sometimes in effect. Growing your own cannabis allows you to focus more on quality.
LED cannabis cultivation and Myrcene
LED growers with lower ambient heat levels in their grow rooms will find that more of their terpenes remain in the buds instead of being lost to the carbon filter. Growers with adjustable spectrum LED such as the California Lightworks SolarSystem units, or those from Grow Spec are able to illuminate their plants with only pure blue light for the last few days. This is known as ‘Blue Light Treatment’ and is popular with professional growers. By switching from red to blue light at the end of bloom, photosynthetic focus switches from bloom production to terpene production.