In our last post, we talked all about terpenes in cannabidiol (CBD) products, and how they enhance the experience of taking CBD. For a quick recap, terpenes are organic compounds created by plants, usually accompanied by a pungent aroma. More than 20,000 varieties of terpenes exist throughout nature. They are notable for their smells, but also, recent studies have determined that certain terpenes create heightened effects in CBD products. The many terpenes produced by the cannabis herb have been proven to provide a wide range of efficacies, including analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and in the treatment of a wide range of both physical and mental ailments. Their benefits rival that of their close relative, cannabinoids.
So now that you know all the basic information about cannabis-derived terpenes, let’s dive a bit deeper into one of the most common cannabis-derived terpenes found in cannabis products: myrcene. Terpenes and myrcene may seem like a foreign concept, but if you’ve ever brewed a fresh cup of chamomile tea before bed to help you unwind, or felt happy and refreshed after eating a ripe mango, you have experienced some of the potential myrcene benefits already! You might have heard the word “myrcene” tossed around in previous conversations about CBD and CBD products, and after you’re done with this post, you’ll know exactly what myrcene is and why it’s important for cannabidiol users.
What is Myrcene?
On a basic level, myrcene is one of the hundreds of different terpenes that appear in cannabis plants. Of this wide range of cannabis-derived terpenes, myrcene is the most common (as measured in weight by volume). It is also referred to as beta myrcene (β-Myrcene). You might have stumbled across one or both of these terms in your previous experiences with cannabis-derived terpenes or cannabidiol, and it is important to note that these two terms are interchangeable, both referring to the same terpene. Besides the cannabis sativa plant, myrcene also appears in a variety of other plants and fruits you may have encountered in your day-to-day life, including ylang-ylang, bay, parsley, wild thyme, lemongrass, hops (the flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus, used as a flavouring and stability agent in beer), cardamom, and mango. Myrcene has an earthy flavour profile, some describe it as smelling like clove or musk.
Myrcene is such an important terpene for a number of reasons. Firstly, a 1997 Swiss study determined that myrcene may constitute up to a whopping 50 percent of the terpene volume of an individual cannabis plant. The popularity of this terpene in the cannabis sativa plant makes understanding myrcene and its effects very important for cannabis users. Further, for many years, all cannabis-derived terpenes, including myrcene, were exclusively valued for their aromatic flavour profile, but groundbreaking research conducted within the last few decades has revealed the immense importance of terpenes beyond their smell. Terpenes, including myrcene, are credited with contributing to the “entourage effect” in CBD products. This means that including the full range of cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant (including terpenes) can allow the compounds to work together in harmony, thereby increasing and maximizing the effectiveness of cannabidiol. Therefore, myrcene is now studied and sought after for its psychoactive benefits on the body, beyond simply being revered for its flavour profile.
Most importantly, beta myrcene has been found to mimic the impacts of cannabidiol on lab mice, an interesting breakthrough for those in the camp that the inclusion of terpenes in cannabidiol products helps to increase their effectiveness. One of the key questions that consumers have about cannabis-derived terpenes such as beta myrcene is, can myrcene get you high? You might be comforted to know that terpenes by themselves cannot get you “high” in the traditional sense. However, it is important to note that recent research suggests that myrcene terpene can play a role in facilitating the transport of cannabinoids into your brain. So while cannabis-derived terpenes on their own cannot achieve the effect of getting you high, they can contribute to expediting the process and maximizing the effects of cannabis.
In summary, beta myrcene is not only important for its flavour profile, but because it is one of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant, for its potential psychoactive benefits (including increasing the effects and benefits of CBD products), and for research that suggests that myrcene mimics the impacts of cannabidiol. Now that you have a full understanding of what exactly myrcene is, let’s dive into the specific effects and benefits of this very important terpene.
While there is still ongoing research surrounding myrcene and terpenes more broadly, researchers have identified some effects of beta myrcene. Firstly, strains of cannabis that are high in myrcene are notable for producing sedative effects. These strains include “OG Kush”, “Blue Dream”, and “Remedy”. Dr Ethan Russo, credited with discovering the entourage effect in CBD “support[s] the hypothesis that myrcene is a prominent sedative terpenoid in cannabis, and—combined with THC—may produce the ‘couch-lock’ phenomenon of certain chemotypes that is alternatively decried or appreciated by recreational cannabis consumers.” (source) However, myrcene has also been thought to result in joyful and euphoric moods.
- Myrcene is notable for its potential Anti-Inflammatory Effects:
- Various studies have used plants such as lemongrass and magnolia, both of which are high in myrcene, to test for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- In one instance, Korean mountain magnolias were capable of slowing endotoxins created during lung inflammation and inhibited inflammation of the lining of the lung.
- While these studies were performed on lungs, it suggests that myrcene could inhibit skin inflammation as well.
- Myrcene has also been used in traditional and folk medicine for it’s Potential Pain-Relieving Effects:
- Potential sedative effects:
- Myrcene has long been thought to contribute to sleep and staying asleep longer.
- German producers of hops usually frequently use hops as a sleep aid.
- Some benefits of cannabis-derived terpenes as a whole that are also provided by myrcene include:
Protection against DNA damage
Zooming in on: Myrcene for Insomnia
Life in the 21st century is remarkably fast-moving, so winding down to get to sleep at night is increasingly difficult. Insomnia is becoming one of the primary reasons that consumers seek out CBD products. This is a primary example of why the inclusion of cannabis-derived terpenes such as beta myrcene in the cannabidiol products you choose is so important, because they can increase and maximize benefits, such as helping sleep.
Interestingly, myrcene actually has a long history of being utilized to help sleep in folk medicine and naturopathy. The sedative and muscle-relaxant effects of beta myrcene have been thought to compound and create effects that promote falling asleep quickly, and staying asleep. A 2012 study on rats found that a mixture of the terpenes myrcene and limonene had a sedative effect. The study found that myrcene increased sleep duration by around 2.6 times. Further research on rats determined that myrcene can increase the amount of time mice spend asleep, but only when ingested in combination with narcotics with strong sedative effects While there is still lots of research to be done, there are clearly some links between myrcene and having better sleep. If you are looking for a natural way to achieve sedative effects, beta myrcene could be the right choice for you! We’ve spoken more broadly about how the inclusion of cannabis-derived terpenes in CBD products can be helpful, but let’s zero in on how exactly myrcene functions in cannabidiol products, and why looking out for it is important when selecting the right CBD product for you.
Myrcene in CBD Products
Myrcene functions in CBD products in a number of important ways. Firstly, like other terpenes, myrcene is theorized to be part of the “entourage effect”, which means that it works in conjunction with cannabinoids to create increased health benefits for cannabidiol users. Myrcene, and other cannabis-derived terpenes are utilized in Full-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum CBD is already sought after by many consumers for being a natural form of cannabidiol that is thought to result in maximized and intense benefits. Beyond this, full-spectrum CBD products are notable for their inclusion of cannabis-derived terpenes. Many full-spectrum CBD products have begun to prominently feature the inclusion of terpenes on their labels and in their product descriptions. Myrcene is especially important under these considerations, due to the fact that it can mimic the effects of CBD.
Overall, it is clear that there is potential for myrcene to add many additional benefits to CBD products (especially full-spectrum CBD which includes the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant), and to work in tandem with cannabidiol to maximize positive effects for its users.
Overall, increasing attention is being paid to beta myrcene and its impact on the body. In recent years, many who suffer from physical and mental ailments are looking to wean off harsh medications full of chemicals and seeking natural and non-addictive courses of treatment instead. For this reason, myrcene has been thrust into the spotlight as a potential source of physical and mental benefits, that are kind to the body.
As the demand for products including myrcene increases, so will research surrounding this terpene that seems to do it all. Up until the discovery of the “entourage effect” the bulk of cannabis and CBD research was dedicated to studying cannabinoids in isolation from each other. Now that we know the wealth of benefits that can be achieved from cannabinoids working together in tandem, the tides of this research are gradually shifting. This means research on previously overlooked compounds of the cannabis plant, including cannabis-derived terpenes, will be studied in greater depth. Myrcene’s potential benefits will surely be explored in more depth in the near future, but for now, it is clear that there are some notable advantages to using cannabidiol products that include this super-terpene.