Myrcene: a terpene with sedative effect that leaves you glued to the couch

Today we will talk about myrcene, a terpene that defines the characteristic aroma of your favorite strains, as well as playing a crucial role in the unique effects of cannabis. We invite you to delve into the fascinating world of cannabis aromas and discover how this terpene can enhance your experience with flowers.

What is myrcene and what effects does this terpene have on cannabis?

Introduction to myrcene terpene

We will discover the terpene of this post, myrcene, one autumn afternoon. It will be after a sunny morning exploring the bush. Because of the night dew, the ground under our feet will be wet, but the muddy ground will not stop our steps and the visual spectacle of walking among golden oaks and red maples.

Back home we will prepare a chai tea. A homemade one: boiling black tea with milk so that the cardamom and cloves release all their flavor during boiling. With the steaming mug in our hands, we will settle down on the couch, the blanket over our tired legs, and the bag of bag of CBD Candy Krush flowers (Zkittlez CBD) on the on the adjoining table.

When we open the airtight package of Zkittlez CBD we will be surprised by a déjà vu of the morning: that damp earth again there, inside the living room. The autumnal, earthy and spicy scent, will infect the atmosphere with that incomparable relaxation produced by a walk in the forest. This soothing fragrance is the work of myrcene, the terpene most present in cannabis strains, which we are going to discover in this article.

What is myrcene?

Myrcene is a terpene found in different plants, fruits and spices, such as hops, ginger, and of course cannabis. This aromatic compound is responsible for the predominant odor of marijuana.

Myrcene has a slightly sweet aroma with spicy (clove-like) and earthy (damp earth) aromatic notes, a peppery undertone, and a very subtle fruity finish.

Chemistry

Myrcene or beta-myrcene is classified within the monoterpenes, and is composed of two isoprenes of five carbons each. It belongs to the family of lighter terpenes. This means that it is a very volatile molecule, which easily reaches our sense of smell, being one of the first aromas we feel when smelling cannabis.

But above all, it is one of the most abundant terpenes in marijuana plants: all commercial cannabis strains produce a high percentage of myrcene (1).

In addition, it is one of the dominant terpenes in the overall aroma of many cannabis specimens, because its high concentration levels easily overshadow the smell of other terpenes.

What is the aroma of myrcene?

Myrcene has an earthy, damp earthy aroma to the first smell, which is why it is a terpene closely related to the forest. At first it could easily remind us of a walk through a grove of trees, when the ground is wet. But in the background, myrcene presents more spicy notes, its smell resembling that of cloves with a spicy touch of pepper, and even fruity, later on.

It is a fragrance associated with a relaxing sensation closely linked to nature. It has been observed that terpenes found in the forest could promote physical relaxation in people; myrcene, among them (2).

In order to relate myrcene to an aroma, it is also useful to think of the smell of hops, the plant used to brew beer, which also has high concentrations of this monoterpene. These moist, slightly sweet notes, bordering on bitter and sour, are the most distinctive characteristics of myrcene.

Where is myrcene found?

In the plant kingdom, myrcene is found in many herbs, plants and even in some fruits. It is found for example in the essential oil of plants such as hops, juniper, tea tree, ginger, clove or mango.

In the case of the plant Cannabis sativa L myrcene is formed in the trichomes of cannabis flowers, in those resinous glands that at the end of the flowering of the plants cover the buds as if powdered sugar had been sprinkled on them. The trichomes, whitish in color, are found on the flowers and the smaller leaves that envelop them, the so-called sugar leaves . Those resinous glands are the most photographed elements of any cannabis plant, always with macro lenses to capture all its magic, and one of the most portrayed parts of the flower in the industry’s advertising materials. In those tiny white bubbles that prick our fingers when we touch a CBD flower, the myrcene we are talking about is formed.

Which CBD flowers are rich in myrcene?

Myrcene is a predominant terpene in all cannabis strains, but you can find a higher myrcene content in CBD flowers. CBD flowers flowers of the following strains of Cannactiva :

Which marijuana strains are rich in myrcene?

There are a multitude of varieties of marijuana rich in myrcene. This terpene is one of the most abundant in marijuana genetics, and one of the most strongly fixed in the aromatic profiles of any cannabis specimen.

We paraphrase one of the medical cannabis researchers, medical doctor, neurologist, and psychopharmacology researcher Ethan Russo, when he says that “myrcene, especially beta-myrcene, an acyclic monoterpene, is the most abundant terpene produced by cannabis” (3).

Moving away from the scientific literature, and approaching research on marijuana of a more commercial dye, we also note the conclusion of the Leafly laboratory to affirm that myrcene is usually the predominant terpene in more than 20% of the most marketed cannabis varieties.

One of the most representative myrcene-rich marijuana strains is White Widow, created by the famous breeder Shantibaba in 1994, and crowned best genetics at the High Times Cup the following year. We will also find high levels of myrcene in Californian OG Kush and in the latest generation of North American strains such as Blue Dream, Green Crack or Northern Lights.

Already without THC, in Cannactiva, the CBD marijuana strains richest in myrcene are the top-selling Zkittlez CBD, with fruity nuances that perfectly complement a resinous aroma tone, the recently added to the family Ohana (Hawaiian Runtz) and the mythical Gorilla Glue CBD :

It is important to note that myrcene evaporates at temperatures above 166°C: it disappears at temperatures above this temperature. Therefore, if we want to benefit from the properties of myrcene, it is important not to exceed this temperature in the vaporizer. vaporizer .

Effects of myrcene on cannabis

All the varieties of cannabis mentioned above are very different from each other, if we take into account their morphology, color or aroma. But they do have a common denominator: they are all very relaxing, and are usually consumed at the end of the day. Coincidence? In no case. It is due to myrcene.

Myrcene has a relaxing and sedative effect, and in cannabis it is responsible for the “couch-lock effect”(coach-lock).

The sedative effect of marijuana is not always produced by its cannabinoid levels, but also by its high concentrations of myrcene. Because myrcene has a very relaxing and sedative effect. It is in fact responsible for the “couch effect”, or as the Americans call it, the “coach-lock”. coach-lock that state after having consumed a variety with high levels of myrcene that leaves you, quite literally, locked to the couch.

It is not surprising, on the other hand, to hear former THC marijuana users say that some CBD flowers relax them to such an extent that it gives them a feeling similar to being high. It is not because CBD strains, but because the flowers contain high levels of myrcene. It is in fact common for strains with high levels of CBD to also produce high levels of myrcene (1), and thus produce a deeply relaxing effect.

Apart from the experiences of consumers, it should be noted that according to the aforementioned scientist, Ethan Russo, whose research work has focused on the medicinal properties of cannabinoids and terpenes, myrcene alone is “a potent analgesic” (3, 4).

How does myrcene interact with cannabinoids?

Generally speaking, myrcene, like all terpenes in the cannabis plant terpenes of the cannabis plant and cannabinoids interact with each other through theentourage effect, according to which all the active compounds of the plant interact with each other, enhancing their effects by acting together.

But in the case of the terpene that concerns us in particular, the myrcene in cannabis is able to act in synergy with the other cannabinoids and enhance the effects of CBD , THC , CBG CBN and CBC. This is because myrcene acts directly on the permeability of cell membranes, especially those related to blood and brain barriers, increasing the transport of cannabinoids to the brain (5).

In this way, cannabinoids enter the cells more easily and exert their effects in the organism in an amplified way, increasing the absorption of cannabinoids. In other words, the levels of THC or CBD that ultimately bind to the receptors of our endocannabinoid system are higher when we consume them through myrcene-rich strains than when we do not.

Benefits of myrcene

Myrcene is attributed with anti-inflammatory, relaxing, analgesic and sedative properties.

Anti-inflammatory properties

On the one hand, myrcene is able to block the anti-inflammatory activity of prostaglandin E2 (a natural anti-inflammatory substance produced by the body), which explains its anti-inflammatory effects (3).

Analgesic properties

On the other hand, and in the same compilation of studies mentioned above, it is pointed out that myrcene is a potent analgesic that acts on central elements that are antagonized by naloxone (opioid receptor antagonist). In other words, the study indicates that myrcene can interact with opioid receptors to produce its analgesic effects. Thus, myrcene could allow the development of new peripheral analgesics, which are those capable of treating pain without having to act on the central nervous system. The same conclusion is also pointed out in another study, which states that “terpenes such as myrcene could constitute a clue for the development of new peripheral analgesics” (6).

Myrcene is noted for its analgesic and sedative properties.

Myrcene for sleep, relaxation and pain relief

In this other study, it was observed that myrcene had a positive influence on muscle relaxation, sleep induction (not only the quantity of hours of sleep was improved, but also the quality of sleep), and on pain relief, due to its sedative effects (7).

I hope the next time you’re savoring the aromatic nuances of your favorite cannabis strain, enjoying a glass of hoppy craft beer or just relaxing on a walk in the woods, you’ll remember that the pleasant sensation you’re experiencing is due, at least in part, to myrcene terpene.

Referencias
  1. Smith CJ, Vergara D, Keegan B, Jikomes N. The phytochemical diversity of commercial Cannabis in the United States. PLoS One. 2022 May 19;17(5):e0267498. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267498. PMID: 35588111; PMCID: PMC9119530.
  2. Cho KS, Lim YR, Lee K, Lee J, Lee JH, Lee IS. Terpenes from Forests and Human Health. Toxicol Res. 2017 Apr;33(2):97-106. doi: 10.5487/TR.2017.33.2.097. Epub 2017 Apr 15. PMID: 28443180; PMCID: PMC5402865.
  3. Russo E, Grotenhermen F. Handbook for cannabis therapeutics. From Bench to Bedside. The Haworth Press, Inc 2006.
  4. Surendran S, Qassadi F, Surendran G, Lilley D, Heinrich M. Myrcene-What Are the Potential Health Benefits of This Flavouring and Aroma Agent? Front Nutr. 2021 Jul 19;8:699666. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.699666. PMID: 34350208; PMCID: PMC8326332.
  5. Hartsel J, Eades J, Hickory B, Makriyannis A. Chapter 53 – Cannabis sativa and Hemp. Nutraceuticals, Academic Press, 2016, Pages 735-754, ISBN 9780128021477, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-802147-7.00053-X.
  6. Lorenzetti BB, Souza GE, Sarti SJ, Santos Filho D, Ferreira SH. Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea. J Ethnopharmacol. 1991 Aug;34(1):43-8. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(91)90187-i. PMID: 1753786.
  7. do Vale TG, Furtado EC, Santos JG Jr, Viana GS. Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) n.e. Brown. Phytomedicine. 2002 Dec;9(8):709-14. doi: 10.1078/094471102321621304. PMID: 12587690.

Jásminka Romanos
Periodista especializada en comunicación para el sector del cannabis

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