Introduction to Terpenes: Myrcene
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are volatile aromatic molecules that produce the unique flavors and aromas in different cannabis strains, as well as in many plants. They serve an important function for plants by attracting pollinators and deterring pests & diseases, and likewise may offer potent therapeutic benefits for humans. CVD now works with PhytoScience Institute to test levels of 19 different terpenes in the strains we grow. Each month we’ll be highlighting a terpene, discussing its effects and identifying terpene-rich strains based on our test results.
Terpenes & the “Entourage Effect”
Research suggests that terpenes may enhance the beneficial effects of cannabinoids (often called the “entourage effect”) while generally reducing the intoxicating effects that cause anxiety or paranoia. In other words, cannabinoids combined with terpenes may be more effective than pure cannabinoids; research shows that CBD, for example, has a more predictable therapeutic effect when terpenes are present. Scientists have isolated more than 200 unique terpenes in cannabis, though only a handful are abundant enough to have a noticeable effect; these “primary” terpenes can be identified by their unique aromas.
Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis and is also one of the most easily-recognizable terpenes thanks to its particular earthy, spicy, clove-like aroma. It is commonly found in hops, basil, citrus, eucalyptus, lemongrass and mango.
Myrcene As a Sleep Aid
Myrcene is one of the reasons cannabis gets its reputation as a sedative. Strains with high levels of myrcene (more than 0.5%) are considered indicas and have a strongly sedative effect, while strains with low levels actually have an energizing effect. As a result, high-myrcene strains can be very effective in relieving insomnia.
Myrcene for Pain & Inflammation
Studies have also shown myrcene to be a potent analgesic. It has a big advantage over pain relief drugs containing opioids in that it does not cause tolerance, while still behaving in a dose-dependent manner (meaning that as the dosage increases, the effects also increase). Research also shows that myrcene acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Other Effects of Myrcene
In addition to myrcene’s sedative and pain-relieving qualities, myrcene is unique among terpenes in that it actually increases the maximum saturation level of the CB1 receptors in the brain, which in turn increases the potential intoxicating effects of cannabis.
Good Sources of Myrcene
To unlock the therapeutic benefits of myrcene, select strains that contain more than 0.5% myrcene and terpenes. To identify high-myrcene strains you can generally look for indicas, indica-dominant hybrids or strains that have “OG” or “Kush” in their names, but terpene content will vary from harvest to harvest. According to the most recent tests of our concentrated terpene extracts (used in our Reserve and Craft Reserve O.PenVAPE cartridges), our strains with the highest myrcene levels (from most to least) are Snowdrop, Jack Herer, CBD Critical Mass and Sour Kush.