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Tap Into Terpenes: Learn About Myrcene

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. It can also be found in products like beer and perfumes. Derived from a number of plants, myrcene is thought to promote relaxation, aid sleep and relieve pain. As one of the most frequently encountered cannabis terpenes around, myrcene is found in a wide range of cannabis products on the shelves of virtually every dispensary. As such, it is important to familiarize yourself with the characteristics and potential effects that myrcene offers. 

Myrcene: the basics

Myrcene is often the most prominent terpene in many cannabis cultivars (strains). In fact, according to lab testing data, myrcene is dominant in roughly 40% of commercial strains of cannabis(1). Outside of the dispensary, myrcene sourced from other plants is widely used in the perfume industry and was once used as a flavoring additive. 

  • Flavors: Sweet and fruity
  • Aromas: Peppery, earthy, and musky
  • Effects: Relaxing, sedative, analgesic, and neuroprotective (2)
  • Often found alongside: Beta caryophyllene, Limonene
  • Also found in: Hops, basil, mangoes, lemongrass

How does myrcene make you feel?

When consuming cannabis products high in myrcene, you might notice that you feel relaxed or sleepy. This tracks with traditional approaches to herbal medicine: lemongrass, which is high in myrcene, was used as a sedative and muscle relaxer in Mexico, while hops-derived myrcene is widely used in Germany as a sleep aid. However, research into how myrcene works in the human body remains limited. Several animal studies have backed up claims that terpene promotes sleep and relaxation, but these studies use very high doses of myrcene that are not found in cannabis, and they have yet to be replicated in humans.

When it comes to pain relief, there is evidence that myrcene can prevent a phenomenon known as “hypernociception,” a particular type of neuropathic pain that causes elevated pain response to normal stimuli that shouldn’t hurt. For example, if you experience hypernociception, a light summer breeze could cause pain. Myrcene levels found in cannabis products could mitigate some of this heightened pain. It’s also been observed to have neuroprotective and oxidative effects in animal studies.

Interestingly, myrcene is also thought to increase the permeability of cell membranes, enhancing the flow of cannabinoids into the brain when consumed(3). If you’ve heard that eating mango will make you feel “higher” when consuming cannabis, this is the reason why you may feel that way.

While it can be helpful to try and understand terpenes on an individual basis, it is most important to consider the entire terpene profile and those terpenes’ relationship with phytocannabinoids. Terpenes’ relationship to your body’s ability to absorb cannabinoids is part of a theory called “the entourage effect,” which theorizes that cannabinoids and terpenes can augment and enhance one another’s properties when present together. In short, this means that myrcene may feel differently when it’s present alongside different terpenes.

Which cannabis products are high in myrcene?

Like other terpenes, myrcene degrades quickly after harvest, a process that accelerates when the terpene is exposed to air, heat and light. This means that the percentage of myrcene in cannabis flower can quickly deteriorate, reducing the quantity of the terpene in final products when they get to the consumer.

Despite this challenge, myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis products. Generally, a cannabis product containing 1% myrcene by weight or greater could be considered high in myrcene, and any product in which myrcene is the dominant terpene would be ideal for consumers seeking its benefits. 

If you’re looking for a myrcene-dominant cannabis product, give some of these strains a try:

  • Blue Dream:  This sativa-dominant hybrid is a cross between the Blueberry and Haze strains. The flower smells like berries, much like its name implies. Because it doesn’t induce drowsiness, Blue Dream may be a great fit if you’re searching for pain relief without the sedative effect.
  • Tangie: Another sativa-dominant hybrid, Tangie is known for its herbal aroma and energizing effects. Try a Tangie flower or concentrate product if you’re looking for some serious stress relief.
  • OG Kush: Myrcene is common in the kush family of strains, of which OG Kush is one popular variant. In OG Kush, myrcene is present alongside beta caryophyllene, limonene, and and linalool, making it an excellent option for relaxation and pain relief.

Myrcene: A sweet option for pain relief and relaxation

As one of the most common cannabis terpenes, myrcene is not hard to come by, but finding the right product is not as simple as selecting something off the shelf. How much myrcene is in your product, as well as the other phytocannabinoids and terpenes in that product, influence how myrcene makes you feel. Remember: the effects of terpenes do not occur in a vacuum. They are influenced by the other compounds and what proportions they are present in. This process, called the “entourage effect,” is one of many concepts researchers are learning more about each day, and here at Ethos, we’re proud to be a part of that research. We have partnered with Thomas Jefferson University to drive cannabis research forward, answer these outstanding questions, and apply what we learn to help more patients.  

While the precise characteristics of myrcene remain under ongoing research, anecdotal evidence and animal studies underscore this terpene’s role in pain relief and relaxation, as well as its neuroprotective and antioxidant properties. It also may increase the permeability of cell membranes, affecting how your body experiences Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other phytocannabinoids. If you’re after these effects, ask an associate for help during your next trip to Ethos. Our staff can help you find the right product with 1% or greater myrcene, so you can get on the road to feeling better. 

Sources:

  1. Central Effects of Citral, Myrcene, and Limonene – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12587690
  2. What is Myrcene and What Does This Cannabis Terpene Do? – https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/myrcene-terpene
  3. Cannabis sativa and Hemp: Myrcene – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biologic

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