Myrcene (Mango Terpene) is one of the most recognized and abundant cannabis terpenes.
It is also one of the most researched.
It has often been described as “the mother of all terpenes” as it is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis, and also a precursor to other terpenes.
The yellow, non-water soluble, oily, non-psychoactive compound is responsible for the plant’s characteristic flavor and aroma.
The aroma of myrcene is labeled as spicy, musky, or earthy.
When flowering, the cannabis plant secrete numerous terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids through the same glands that secrete THC and CBD.
You might ask why?
Terpenes in cannabis evolved to repel parasites. And cannabis plants are abundant in them – that explains why cannabis plants usually grow easily and are disease-free, without the need for pesticides or other chemicals to deter parasites.
Thanks to these compounds, cannabis flowers (buds) have astonishing and unique aromas.
In other words, when you crack a Skywalker CBD cannabis flower and get a rush of intense fruity smell – that is all thanks to the terpenes!
Where are myrcene terpenes found?
Myrcene is abundant in nature, and it occurs in a wide variety of plants, spices, and herbs. Aside from cannabis, myrcene can be found in other plants, such as thyme, peppercorns, laurel, parsley, hops, basil, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and mango.
Myrcene (technically β-Myrcene (beta or b myrcene)) is a monoterpene.
It is an essential precursor to secondary terpenes and other compounds, meaning that other terpenes are formed from myrcene, because of oxidations and other factors.
Myrcene is also thought to be a key to an answer to a long discussion of what makes sativa and indica effects differ. Sativas and indicas usually have similar THC levels, so sativas are not more energizing and psychoactive because of THC.
Myrcene on the other hand is thought to be responsible for these effects. Indicas contain high concentrations of myrcene and sativas are known to have a bit lower amounts of it.
The common thought is that indicas may contain as high as 50% myrcene, while sativas are thought to have less of the terpene.
However, while this “mango” terpene is thought to be an answer to a long discussion of sativa vs indica, there is no evidence that myrcene is solely responsible for these effects.
In fact, indicas, in general, have only a few % more myrcene terpenes than sativas, so the question of indica vs sativa remains.
Myrcene terpene can be derived organically or artificially. Furthermore, it can be isolated, extracted, and concentrated. Extracts have various uses in boosting the effects and flavors of topicals, edibles, and concentrates.
Apart from being used in the perfume industry, Myrcene terpene is becoming increasingly popular for its therapeutic properties and medicinal relevance.
Accordingly, numerous studies have been carried out to determine the full extent of the compound’s medicinal benefits. Given that, we will discuss the medical properties of myrcene based on recent studies.
A famous folk medicine, rich in myrcene terpenes – Spanish Sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia), was used widely in Asia and Middle East to treat pain and oxidative stress, inflammation, viral and fungal infections.
How does myrcene terpene work?
Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons, and they have been seen in essential healing oils for centuries.
Out of over 200 terpenes found in cannabis, only a few have large enough concentrations that could be of medical benefits alone. However, terpenes work synergistically with each other and also with flavonoids and cannabinoids, so even small amounts of terpenes can have synergistic effects.
For example, myrcene works by synergizing terpenes and similar compounds in multiple ways. One notable mechanism of action involves having a profound effect on cell membrane permeability.
For instance, myrcene alters the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to increase the cannabinoid transport into the brain. By modifying the membrane permeability, the body can readily absorb other cannabinoid compounds at the receptor level. This action showed great potential for both medical and recreational users.
That is why mangoes (which contain high amounts of myrcene terpenes) are thought to make the cannabis effects more potent!
There is a good proof to suggest that more benefits come with higher myrcene content. Nevertheless, there is no strong enough evidence or hard scientific data to back most of these claims. Myrcene could be used to treat a wide range of health conditions, as seen below.
Potential Benefits of Myrcene
Here are some benefits of myrcene based on studies:
Myrcene might have antimicrobial activity. A 2018 evaluation done on mycobacterial strains revealed some increased action for most strains and the different drug combinations. Another study was done to assess the structural characteristics and molecular properties implicated in the larvicidal activity of terpenes, and it yielded positive results. As more research is done, different antibiotic properties of myrcene terpene will come to the limelight.
Though its biological effects might not have been fully characterized yet, Myrcene could have anti-inflammatory benefits in humans. According to a study published in 2015 in the European Journal of Pharmacology, human cartilage cells showed signs of improvement after being osteoarthritic. The researchers found out that the damage slowed down, and the disease progression also slowed.
Myrcene has the potential to inhibit cell mutation. As a consequence of its anti-inflammatory effect, it might contribute to malignant cells’ potential death. Accordingly, the Journal of the Korean Society for Applied Biological Chemistry showed a study highlighting the anti-invasive nature of myrcene’s compounds on the breast’s cancerous cells. Nevertheless, we need more research to uncover its holistic action on malignant tumors in patients.
Myrcene has shown both central and peripheral analgesic effects in animal studies. Its impact has been confirmed via a standard commercial preparation tested in mice. Remarkably, its major effect did not cause tolerance after repeated doses, unlike morphine. Its significant analgesic effect is blocked by naloxone, an opioid antagonist. This suggests that myrcene in synergy with THC could have some effect on opioid receptors. Accordingly, future projections are optimistic regarding developing novel analgesics using terpenes, such as myrcene as a lead.
While cannabis strains with high myrcene quantities have been said to produce some sedative effects, there is no clinical evidence to suggest this. Nevertheless, studies carried out in mice showed that very high doses of myrcene increased the animals’ sleeping time in contrast to the control group. The study’s conclusions also indicate that locomotion and voluntary movement might also be reduced with high doses of Myrcene. Hence, it is not unsurprising to think that such an effect is reproducible in humans.
Myrcene terpenes might have the capacity to protect against ultraviolet light-induced aging in our skin, according to recent studies. According to the American Journal of Chinese Medicine publishing, evidence-based studies showed Myrcene as a helpful additive in sunscreen lotions and other skincare products. Myrcene has also shown positive signs of enhancing transdermal absorption. As more research unfolds, this compound might play a vital role in revolutionizing the beauty and skincare industry.
Due to its sedative, analgesic, and relaxing potential effects, myrcene could be used to improve the sleep quality of patients over time. Northern countries (such as Lithuania, Sweden, and Norway) have used thyme as a calming, medicinal herb for centuries, a plant that has up to 40% myrcene of its mass. Though myrcene-containing herbal medicines have been used as sleep aids throughout modern history, pinpoint evidence is needed in controlled studies.
The management of diabetes mellitus is one of the many medical conditions that myrcene has been touted to have an alleviating effect on. In 2007, Al-Omari validated the role of Myrcene in the improvement of glucose tolerance in alloxan diabetic rats. More so, the development was interestingly similar to that of metformin. In summary, myrcene has been shown to enhance insulin secretion in Langerhans’ islets and reduce glycogenolysis in the liver. Thus, it could easily improve peripheral glucose utilization and serum protein levels.
Other potential myrcene terpene benefits
Myrcene might block the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxins produced by fungi found in our food, thanks to its anti-mutagen properties in inhibiting the liver enzyme, CYP2B1. This abundant terpene could also protect against toxins like t-butyl-hydroperoxide, which might damage human DNA. Furthermore, it contributes to the complex phytocannabinoid milieu.
For instance, terpenes work alongside THC, CBD, and other compounds to create what is known as an “entourage effect.” In other words, it potentiates the effects of other compounds in the cannabis plant.
Myrcene might also be able to reduce psychotic symptoms and act as antispasmodic. Finally, it has shown some signs of improving multiple sclerosis symptoms and inhibiting gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Is terpene myrcene safe to use?
Even though myrcene’s potential side effects have not been studied much, it is expected that there should be some effect with very high doses like any other pharmacological compound.
Myrcene terpenes are found all over different plants and fruits. And humans have used it since the dawn of time. Therefore, it is thought to be safe to use. There has been no report of adverse effects with investigations done so far.
Soothing effects have even been documented with higher dosages, and the FDA classifies myrcene as “a food additive allowed for direct addition to food for human consumption.”
Pro tip: If myrcene is taken alongside other cannabinoids (such as THC or CBD), users should be aware of the synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes – start slow and “see what happens” seems to be the golden rule with these types of interactions.
Cannabis Strains With High Myrcene Content
Myrcene levels vary greatly from strain to strain. Some indica cannabis strains are known for having the highest levels of the myrcene terpenes. Here goes the list:
OG Kush: This kush is an a-pinene and limonene-rich hybrid. Its unique terpene profile boasts a complex aroma with spicy and skunk notes, and it has been used to produce some other popular strains.
9 Pound Hammer: The effects of this strain are heavy and long-lasting. It is exceptional for stress and pain relief.
Remedy: The high-CBD strain has little or no psychoactive effects. Patients who need to medicate without profound effects could resort to remedy because of its strong anxiolytic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
FPOG: Fruity Pebbles is a strain that takes its genetics from several other strains. Its euphoric effects make users happy and relaxed.
Granddaddy Purple: Granddaddy has a massive yield and helps to deal with appetite, muscle, and sleep problems.
Tangie: Tangie is another sativa-dominant strain. It is popular for providing euphoric yet relaxed effects.
Harlequin: What separates this sativa-dominant strain from the others is its ability to aid relaxation without causing sedation. It also provides relief without any intoxication.
Pure Kush (Hindu Kush): As the name implies, pure kush is super-potent and unadulterated. Hence, it is excellent for pain and insomnia.
Grape Ape: This strain is excellent in combating stress and depression. Its myrcene content is higher than most other strains.
Mango Kush: This super-fruity, tropical hybrid strain contains large amounts of mango terpene, and it exhibits both a calming and euphoric effect. It also can treat gastrointestinal symptoms.
Blue Dream: The sativa-dominant strain is one of the best west-coast strains. It is a favorite for many in treating pain, nausea, depression, and other medical conditions that require a high THC strain.
White Widow: An earthy hybrid that energizes and gives a calming boost. It is 50% indica and 50% sativa. The strain retains a classic “dirt” woody or earthy smell, and its aroma is labeled as pungent. Interestingly, White Widow is notorious for having a powerful high.
Since different strains come with varying percentages of terpenes and pharmacological properties, identification and classification of strains are important to get the compounds with the best terpene, cannabinoid profiles for a certain medical condition.
Do all CBD oils contain myrcene and other terpenes?
While full-spectrum CBD oils do contain terpenes, including myrcene, isolated CBD oils do not have any terpenes in them and are therefore absolutely flavorless (which comes at a price of losing medical benefits).
It is therefore recommended to buy full-spectrum (whole plant) CBD extracts and tinctures, as they contain terpenes, flavonoids which then potentiates the effects of cannabinoids (such as CBD, CBDa, CBG, THC, and others). The results are more potent effects of CBD.
Is myrcene psychoactive?
Myrcene, when consumed in isolation, does not get one high. However, very high levels of the terpene have been associated with rapid and powerful highs when consumed with other cannabinoid compounds.
A 2016 research published in the journal Nutraceuticals revealed the myrcene-associated high was because the compound made the Blood-Brain Barrier permeable to other cannabinoids, which were intoxicating. Nevertheless, the terpene itself does not produce any psychoactive effects when taken in isolated form.
The future of myrcene terpene research
Despite the limited research surrounding “mango” terpene, one of the most questionable points remains knowing myrcene’s appropriate dosage to achieve all the potential benefits, as discussed in this article. Dosages in many animal studies ranged between 2mg to 1g per kg. For humans, studies are yet to showcase the right dose. More so, we are not sure about the amount of terpenes present in the different cannabis strains.
Scientists are still getting to understand the importance of myrcene terpenes in human beings. This compound is set to become appreciated even more in the nearest future. Before now, much of the studies done had been individual, but things are changing. For instance, the National Institute of Health has called for proposals to study the different benefits of terpenes from cannabis.
All cannabis components work best when used together though terpenes can potentiate or inhibit the effects of other cannabinoids. Thus, it is best to study each cannabis strain’s components before choosing the best way to use them.
Plants and foods rich in myrcene (mangoes, thyme, hops) might enhance some cannabinoid effects.
While myrcene is abundant in various foods and plants and is used by humans for thousands of years, we still have much to learn about this terpene and its interactions with cannabinoids.
We will undoubtedly have more information about myrcene terpene at our disposal in the upcoming years. These tiny hydrocarbons may well be a ground-breaking discovery in cannabis medicine.