What Is Myrcene?
Cannabis has been heralded for various potential health benefits for decades. Everyone is talking about cannabinoids such as delta-9-THC and CBD, and delta-8-THC is quickly gaining traction (and regulation) by the day. What isn’t discussed as commonly, however, are the various other compounds that are found within cannabis. These compounds, known as terpenes, are often responsible for the various scents and flavors associated with cannabis. In addition to the scents and flavor profiles that terpenes can possess, terpenes can also play a key factor in a wide variety of the potential healing properties that are commonly attributed to cannabis. Some have even presented the argument that terpenes are just as important as cannabinoids! In this article, we will discuss one of the terpenes that is most commonly found in cannabis: Myrcene. What is myrcene? What are common myrcene effects? What are some of the myrcene benefits? All of these questions will be answered!
But first, in order to go over the various properties of Myrcene, we must first go over terpenes a little bit further. For those who have yet to research terpenes, we will be covering the basics. If you are familiar with terpenes, this will be a very brief refresher!
What Are Terpenes?
Like previously mentioned, terpenes are responsible for the various scents and flavors that are commonly associated with cannabis. Terpenes can best be defined as naturally occurring organic compounds found in a wide variety of plants, and the fruits and leaves of those plants. In addition to cannabis, terpenes are found in a plethora of other plants. Take the terpene limonene, for example. In our previous article we went over limonene, which is a pungent terpene commonly found in lemon, lime, and orange peels, as well as cannabis. Limonene is responsible for the sweet, citrusy, and almost spicy notes that are found in these fruits. Terpenes are believed to affect more than just the taste and smell of a plant, however. Several terpenes are believed to possess various healing aspects in their own right! Terpenes have been used for decades in aromatherapy in order to provide individuals with relief for a wide variety of ailments. Modern uses for terpenes include perfumes, solvents, varnishes, inks, cleaning products, and culinary uses. It is estimated that there are well over 30,000 known terpenes in existence, all with various uses and scents associated with them.
Cannabis is known to have at least 100 terpenes that naturally occur and vary with each strain. Some say that there may even be as many as 200 terpenes that can be found naturally within cannabis. As such, the flavor profile, scent, and effects can and will vary greatly! When factoring in over 100 cannabinoids, you can see how the cannabis plant can create a very different experience based on the individual strain.
Now that we have gone over a bit on the background of terpenes, let’s focus on the terpene at hand: Myrcene. What is myrcene, what are some common myrcene effects, and what about the myrcene benefits?
Myrcene Effects & Myrcene Benefits
Generally speaking, myrcene is often the most commonly found terpene within the cannabis plant. Myrcene is often found in abundance with cannabis, making it perhaps the most common flavor and scent associated with the plant. In addition to cannabis, myrcene is often found within mangoes, lemongrass, and, for those who may love IPA’s, myrcene is found in large amounts within hops! Bay leaves, thyme, and parsley all have varying levels of myrcene within them as well! Myrcene is responsible for the pungent, almost musky, slightly bitter flavor and scents that can be found in these plants. It provides a distinct flavor and scent to these fruits and herbs, and to cannabis as well.
So, what are some of the potential myrcene benefits that users may be able to gain from this terpene? Well, there are several.
To start, myrcene is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, albeit at generally high doses. Many who suffer from anti-inflammatory diseases and disorders may find that ingesting myrcene or cannabis strains high in myrcene can help to alleviate some of the inflammation that they experience. In many cases, by alleviating inflammation, much of the symptoms will be dulled. Those suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, and other inflammation-based disorders may find that they can gain a bit of relief from myrcene. It is also believed that myrcene can assist with inflammation levels that are commonly linked to osteoarthritis, which is a form of arthritis that can destroy joint cartilage and bone! This is massive for the myrcene terpene. If the myrcene terpenes effects are strong enough to potentially combat such a brutal and life-altering disorder like osteoarthritis, what other uses could this terpene possibly possess?
In addition to the anti-inflammatory properties that researchers believe myrcene may possess, myrcene is also believed to be an antioxidant and may also be able to prevent the fast spread of various bacteria.
Remember how we went over the fact that myrcene is found within hops? Well, the history of beer may be able to provide some further detail on the antioxidant-like aspects of myrcene.
In the 18th century, brewers in England sought a method in which to export beer brewed back home to India, specifically to those working for the East India Company. The problem? This was a lengthy journey in those times, and it was very difficult to transport beer for such a long voyage on a ship without the beer developing a skunky, unpleasant taste. Through trial and error, these brewers found that by adding a larger amount of hops during the brewing process, the beer would not develop the musty, skunk-like flavor nearly as fast as their previous beers. It was believed that hops were sterile and possessed antioxidant-like effects, which would keep the beer fresh for far longer. The only difference was that this beer had a much more bitter taste, which many in the East India Company grew to enjoy. After this beer gained popularity, brewers decided to create this type of beer as a regularly brewed product, aptly naming the brew, the India Pale Ale.
This is myrcene at work. While we cannot reasonably explain that myrcene is the only reason that the hops were able to keep the beer fresh, myrcene is found in quite large amounts within hops. More so than the vast majority of other terpenes found within hops. Antioxidants are also believed to protect the body from various cancers and other serious and deadly diseases. It has been shown in several studies that myrcene may very well possess cancer-fighting properties. In fact, myrcene has shown potential for protecting the skin from harmful, cancer-causing ultraviolet light. All of this could very well be a coincidence, but as of right now, it does appear that myrcene has many preventative measures for a wide variety of diseases. Further study is needed before we can hail myrcene as a wonder drug capable of eradicating or even fully medicating such disorders, but it does provide a glimpse into what the future may very well hold for myrcene.
But anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties are not the only thing in store for myrcene. The myrcene terpene effects may be far more than simply assisting with inflammation and acting as an antioxidant.
Myrcene terpenes may also help with more common issues that a wider margin of the population suffer from. Myrcene terpenes have been heralded by many as a moderately strong sedative. A study back in 2002 seemed to support this argument, and present the idea that myrcene could be used safely by many individuals in order to help manage such issues as anxiety and even insomnia! It is believed that myrcene can provide users with a relaxing effect that can allow them to quell racing and intrusive thoughts when their anxiety level is high. Furthermore, myrcene may also provide some users with the ability to get comfortable enough to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep. This can prove to be a massive boost in the quality of life that those suffering from anxiety and/or insomnia may experience. Rather than relying on dangerous anti-anxiety medications or sleeping pills that both can and have proven to be fatal at large doses, myrcene is not known to be harmful even at rather large doses. If there were a cheaper, more natural, less dangerous substance that had little to no known side effects, why wouldn’t we choose this option?
Myrcene may very well be just the thing we need in order to effectively combat insomnia and anxiety in a safe and reliable manner.
Studies on the effects that myrcene has as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and alternative to anxiety medication and sleeping tablets are all ongoing. All we can do right now is do our own research, and wait to see what researchers have found on the terpene.
Perhaps one day we will turn to terpenes just as many are starting to turn to cannabinoids in the hopes of a safer, healthier, addiction-free society.