Ever wonder what gives cannabis its distinct aroma? Terpenes contribute to the many unique aromas and flavors that exist among a wide variety of different cannabis strains. Not only do terpenes contribute to aroma and flavor, they can also potentiate the effects of cannabinoids and provide beneficial effects of their own.
Of the many terpenes that are found in cannabis, myrcene is one of the most common. It is also found in hops and mangoes. If you enjoy the crisp peppery finish of craft beer, you can thank myrcene. Herbs containing this terpene have been used for thousands of years by humans who recognized its pleasant aromas and beneficial effects. One such herb is lemongrass.
Just How Common is Myrcene?
When it comes to both federally legal CBD hemp flower and commercial cannabis, myrcene is one of the most prevalent terpenes found. When comparing large varieties of unique strains, myrcene tends to make up at least 20% of the terpene profile when present. Of course, terpene profiles vary by strain.
Next to Caryophyllene, Myrcene is one of the most likely terpenes to be considered a strains ‘dominant terpene’. A dominant terpene is the terpene that is present at the highest levels in any given strain. Caryophyllene and Myrcene are the two most common dominant terpenes despite many other terpenes being present in both hemp flower and cannabis flower.
Some argue there is a lack of terpene diversity among cannabis strains on the market today. It’s even been said that if you select a random cannabis product, the chances of the dominant terpene being myrcene are around 40%! While cannabis and hemp cultivars have come quite a long way in recent years, it is clear there is still quite a ways to go. It is likely that breeders will eventually shift their focus to creating strains that feature novel terpene profiles which will bring new and unique varieties of cannabis to the market.
High Myrcene Cannabis Strains
- Granddaddy Purple
- Grape Ape
- Blue Dream
- OG Kush
- 9 Pound Hammer
High Myrcene Hemp Strains
- Abacus Diesel
- Wedding Cake
- Space Glue
- Super Sour Space Candy
- Cherry Abacus
- Sour Suver Haze
- Special Sauce
Many cannabis myths exist out there today and one claims myrcene is a deciding factor when it comes to the effects of a strain being indica or sativa. Some say a strain containing 0.5%+ myrcene will have indica leaning effects and strains containing less will have sativa effects. This is simply not true. Myrcene can show up in high amounts in indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. It is also just as common in high CBD strains as it is in high THC strains.
The origins of this myth are unknown, but it is possible it stems from the association of sedative effects with myrcene. Perhaps this association lead cannabis users to assume strains high in myrcene generally have indica effects.
Effects of Myrcene
As we previously mentioned, lemongrass rich in myrcene and other myrcene rich plants have been used for thousands of years by humans. We do know lemongrass has been used as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Hops have also been used as a sleep aid. While the historical evidence points to there being a possibility that myrcene does indeed have sedative effects, no serious studies with humans have been done to legitimately conclude this.
There have been rodent studies with myrcene that demonstrated muscle relaxant effects, but these studies don’t always translate to humans very well. More research is necessary before we can say for sure whether or not myrcene is a sedating terpene.
Myrcene as a Pain Reliever & Anti-Inflammatory
In 1990, scientists in Brazil concluded that myrcene reduced pain by increasing innate opioid chemicals in the brain and spinal cord, though these findings have been heavily debated. In addition to this, many animal studies have found myrcene to have potential anti-inflammatory properties. More research with humans is needed to support myrcene’s potential both as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory.
Potential Benefits of Myrcene
Myrcene has been found to block cancer causing effects of aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are produced by fungi and can wind up on the food that we consume. Because myrcene is able to inhibit the liver enzyme, CYP2B1, aflatoxins are unable to damage our DNA. Myrcene protects our DNA from other mutagens as well, which is in line with many other terpenes which also have antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits.
The Future of Myrcene Research
Until recently, research of terpenes like myrcene has been scarce. Terpenes themselves have often taken a backseat to cannabinoids and have been largely under appreciated and ignored. As we move further into a world of decriminalized and legal cannabis, however, this seems to be changing. The largest science funding agency in the United States, The National Institute of Health, has issued a call for proposals to study the analgesic effects of terpenes and “minor cannabinoids” present in cannabis.
This is great news for the future of research into terpenes like myrcene. There is much to discover about these chemical compounds found in cannabis that likely have much more to offer than pleasant aromas and flavors.
Curious about other terpenes? View our terpene chart article for a list of terpenes and effects. This article also discusses the different terpene categories.
Questions about terpenes or CBD concentrates in general? Feel free to reach out anytime, we’d love to help!