An overview of the Most Abundant Cannabis Terpene.
Generally, myrcene is the most abundant terpenes in the plants (cannabis inclusive). Aside from cannabis, it can also be found in plants like mango. In fact, it tends to be more associated with mango than any other plant where it could be found in abundance.
This has led to various misconceptions and confusion such as in the “mango theory” and “couch lock phenomenon”.
There are research studies suggesting it might be potent in curing and protecting diseases like cancer, osteoarthritis, depression, insomnia, and gastric ulcer.
Its anti-fungal potency has been discovered to be more efficient than conventional medical drugs in treating Candidal infection. It seamlessly permeates the biofilm defense mounted by the fungi where pharmaceutical drugs failed.
As opposed to the popular perception of indica strains being Myrcene dominant, lab analysis has revealed all marijuana strains contain fairly the same amount of myrcene terpene. Also disputed is the notion that taking mango before consuming cannabis plants aids the “high” experience.
Scientific research has more than convinced us that cannabis terpenes are as important as their counterpart phytocannabinoid compounds. These terpenes are generally classified as major/essential/primary or minor.
Myrcene is one of the major terpenes and not only that, it is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis plants ― it accounts for about 20 percent of the total terpenes in marijuana strains ― there are strains with as high as 65 percent. A study conducted in Switzerland concluded myrcene may account for about 50 percent of the total terpene volume of the cannabis plant. However, the actual average myrcenes in marijuana is something that with different perceptions from various experts.
Anytime you visit a cannabis dispensary, there is a 40 percent chance that any strain you pick up is myrcene dominant. Some experts have blamed this on the less chemical diversity in modern commercial cannabis. In case you are wondering about pinene, pinene is the most abundant terpene generally found in plants (whether cannabis or not).
This does not, however, suggest that myrcene is absent in other plants. In fact, it is the main contributor to the aroma of plants and herbs like mango, hops, thyme, lemongrass, basil, and Myrcia sphaerocarpa.
Flavor and Aroma
Myrcene is aroma is one of the strongest. It is widely recognized as being earthy with an undertone of musky notes that smells like strong cloves.
The flavor is fruity and tastes more of red grape and balsamic with some traces of spice.
Myrcene is a monoterpene. The “mono” in its name signifies the quality of being one of the aromatic molecules with the simplest structure. Compounds like this may serve as a precursor for other compounds. This is no wonder as myrcene has been detected could be a precursor for other terpenes such as its use in the perfumery industry (more on that later).
Myrcene is an alkene (or olefinic) hydrocarbon compound. Although all hydrocarbon compounds have hydrogen and carbon only ― for any substance to qualify as an alkene hydrocarbon compound, it is mandatory it has at least two carbons linked together with a double bond. This means that the compound will have two hydrogens lesser than its counterpart hydrocarbon compounds known as an alkane. Any compound with a structure that includes a double bond is referred to as unsaturated.
Myrcene extract is a yellow and oily liquid with a pleasant odor.
It has a boiling point of 332.6°F at 760 mmHg (atmospheric pressure) and a freezing point of -10oC.
If you will be working with myrcene in the lab, you may want to be careful because it is flammable and irritant ― the flashpoint is 103oF.
The criteria for the naming compound by chemists are explanatory but may look complex. But most of the time, the name using the different chemical structure the compound structures of a compound can exhibit. Some of the different names used to refer myrcene include;
- 123-35-3 [RN]
- 7-Methyl-3-methylene-1,6-octadiene [ACD/IUPAC Name]
- 1,6-Octadiene, 7-methyl-3-methylene- [ACD/Index Name]
Myrcene is reputed for its sedative effects. Strains with more than 50 percent of its total terpene being Myrcene is probable to strongly present the sedative effects. Such effect is rumored to be a characteristic of the indica-dominant strains; thus, cannabis rich in Myrcene could be assumed to belong to the indica strains (is this really true? Read on to know).
Myrcene will also make you feel sleepy. It has a long history in displaying this effect considering its usage in folk medicine. Lemongrass with high myrcene composition, when consumed with tea, can make the user sleep and also experience some muscle relaxation. Germans have also been reported to use myrcene-rich hops for preparing sleep aids.
So far, there have been some outstanding discoveries that indicate the health benefits of myrcene.
Some of the scientifically proven medical benefits include but not limited to the following;
- Analgesic (pain relief)
- Gastrointestinal tract protection (such as anti-ulcer)
More scientific exploration of myrcene is anticipated as the importance of terpenes is expected to continue to gain waves.
In a 1990 study, the researches administered a varying dosage of myrcene in rats and discovered it acts as antinociception (pain-reliever) at a dosage of 10 and 20 mg kg-1 intraperitoneally and at 20 and 40 mg kg-1 subcutaneously.
Another research conducted the following year (1991) by Ribeirão Preto Campus in Brazil also concluded the analgesic potency of myrcene. The researchers manually extracted the liquid of fresh myrcene rich rats and administered them in rats. Any inquisitive person can dispute this fact and conclude the hyper-analgesia effect recorded by the researchers to be an effect of another constituent of the leave. As a countermeasure, these scientists were able to prove the myrcene effect by comparing it against a commercially prepared version.
Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil researchers was able to demonstrate the sleeping effect of myrcene in their study. They concluded: “myrcene …increased barbiturate sleeping time as compared to control.”
A study observing constituents of essential oils from Lippia alba chemotypes noted the sedative and pain-relief property of myrcene.
A research report published in the Chemico-Biological Interactions revealed that myrcene is capable of facilitating the production of protective mucous in the gastrointestinal tracts GIT. This capability is strongly linked to another terpene called limonene. This is the main reason myrcene is recommended by some experts for preventing and treating GIT conditions like an ulcer.
The antifungal effect of myrcene was unveiled in a study conducted in 2012 by Khon Kaen University, Thailand researchers. They discovered myrcene was able to destroy about 80 percent of Candida dubliniensis fungus used for the research. Candidal infection is not easy to treat due to the high potency of the fungus biofilm to resist antifungal agents.
Research conducted result published in 2015 reported that myrcene anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic property shows promise in treating and preventing osteoarthritis.
Myrcene-dominant strains are Indica: A Myth or Fact?
Probably you have read it too. There is a general assumption that cannabis strains with more than 0.5% myrcene are indica-dominant. In fact, the claim is supported by results from the lab test conducted by Steep Hills Labs in Berkeley, California.
To some extent, this is true because some indica dominant strains may have such a composition of myrcene. Recently, there is another result that disputed this claim. A lab data of different strains analyzed by Confidence Analytics and published on Leafly revealed the level of myrcene is independent of strains ― whether indicas, sativas or hybrids. The only prove that indicas may have more myrcene is that the result indicates they have about 0.01 percent higher myrcene compared with others.
Myrcene can improve the action of other phytocannabinoid compounds
Myrcene has been rumored to be active in synergizing the body’s response to terpenes and other cannabis compounds. This is what leads to the “mango theory” which will be discussed in the next section. How true is this? Can it ever be possible? The claim is that it increases the permeability of the cell membranes of the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, could undoubtedly perform the function linked to it. However, a thorough the reading of the literature on this subject only suggests but has no concrete data that validates the claim.
The Mango Theory: How valid is it?
In case you have not heard about the mango theory before now, it is a general conception among cannabis lovers that when you eat a ripe mango before consuming cannabis, you tend to feel the “high” effect more and better. This is believed to be the effect of the high myrcene in mango. As discussed earlier, this assumption would have been valid if the literature suggesting the permeability of the blood-brain barrier has evidence to back up their claim.
As well-known on the street, you will experience something called “The Couch Lock Phenomenon”. This has been supported by evidence. It is true you will experience some sedative and muscle relaxant effects of myrcene but saying it is as a result of the increased permeability of the BBB is not yet supported by scientific studies.
Myrcene Abundance: Cannabis vs Mango
The assertion made in the last section is not to be misinterpreted to mean mango does not contain myrcene. The strong aroma and flavors you enjoy in mango is all thanks to myrcene. But thinking mango has more myrcene content than marijuana is fallacious. On average, a cannabis strain will contain 2 mg of myrcene while mango usually contains about 0.086mg of myrcene. You can see cannabis offer more than 20X myrcene you can ever get from a mango. If at all mango may improve the high effect of marijuana as claimed by the mango theory, then it must be from another substance and not myrcene. Hopefully, researchers, we put the confusion to rest soon.
Culinary and Aromatherapy Usage
In the perfume industry, terpene myrcene is used as a precursor in the production of compounds like geraniol, nerol, and linalool. The brewery industry simply describes its importance as green hop because it is mostly found in the dry-hopped beers. It gives the peppery and balsam aroma in beer.
Myrcene can also be found in spices like ginger, oregano, rose, tarragon, and bay.
The side effect of myrcene has not been given much consideration as much as its health benefits. Since it offers a sedative effect and may make you sleep, consuming too much of it might make you less agile to complete your daily tasks. You may feel too lazy or even sleep-off.
Myrcene Terpene Dominated Strains
Falling in love with this terpene already? There are strains you can always lay your hands on to enjoy all of its effects and aroma. But before you rush to the nearest dispensary, it is worthy to note that the myrcene composition in the strains below may vary from breeder to breeder.
Special Kush 1
This hybrid strain is myrcene-heavy with a strong earthy and skunky aroma. It is recommended for people suffering from chronic pain.
It is an indica dominant strain that will make you feeling heavily sedated. You will experience some form of relaxation along with a sedative feeling. Recommended for people that need pain-reliever
White widow is a very popular hybrid strain and has its origin from the Netherlands. It was bred by Green House Seeds. Recommended for relieving stress and treating depression.
It originated from the Himalayan mountain and is characterized for its high effect along with heightened focus and creativity. Of course, not without the sleepy effect of myrcene. Recommended for insomnia patients and also to relieve stress.
Other cannabis with a high composition of myrcene include;
- El Nino
- NL5 Haze Mist
- Jack Herer
- Special kush
- Lime OG
- SFV OG
- Skywalker OG
- Big Bang
- The Church
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Thin Mint Cookies
- Granddaddy Purple
- Blue Dream
Myrcene is unarguably one of the health benefits cannabis terpenes already in spite of the limited research conducted so far. More research is needed to unveil other potentials and most importantly, it’s side effects if any.
It is hopeful such will be feasible soon as the National Institute of Health has announced it is welcoming proposals for studies on analgesic effects of cannabis terpenes and “minor cannabinoids”.