Terpene of the Month: Ocimene
Each month we highlight one of the 200+ volatile aromatic compounds called terpenes that create the unique flavors and aromas of different cannabis strains. Terpenes generally enhance the health benefits of cannabis while reducing the intoxicating effects that can cause anxiety. Additionally, each terpene has unique therapeutic properties. This month we’ll discuss the primary cannabis terpene ocimene.
Ocimene is known for its sweet, woodsy herbaceous aroma, and is a popular ingredient in perfume.
Botanicals Containing Ocimene
Ocimene occurs naturally in many plants including allspice, mint, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, bay laurel, basil, pepper and mangoes. Like other terpenes, ocimene helps these plants defend themselves from pests and disease. Remarkably, research indicates that when a plant is being attacked by insect pests, it releases ocimene to both deter pests, and to “warn” other plants nearby to ready their defenses.
Ocimene is generally considered a stimulant. Interestingly, Spanish researchers have found that ocimene tends to be present in the more uplifting, sativa-dominant strains – a finding consistent with our test results and anecdotal evidence.
One of ocimene’s many therapeutic benefits is as a decongestant and expectorant. Anecdotal evidence indicates that ocimene helps clear airways and improve respiration when smoked or vaped—but it can induce coughing in the process, so patients that wish to avoid coughing should avoid strains high in ocimene.
Ocimene also has strong anti-fungal properties. Plants that contain exceptionally high levels of ocimene are traditionally used in the Middle East as a preservative to extend the shelf life of dairy products. Research indicates that tarragon, which is very high in ocimene, has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, giving it a similar ability to reduce food spoilage. Research has shown that ocimene effectively inhibits the Candida albicans fungus and even works as an insecticide against the larval stages of some pests.
There is also evidence to suggest that ocimene has anti-viral properties; research indicates that the oil of plants containing high levels of ocimene, such as bay laurel, inhibits the SARS virus. There is anecdotal evidence that ocimene may also have anti-inflammatory properties, but this has not yet been confirmed by research. A study looking at an artemisia containing high levels of ocimene suggests that it may have anti-convulsant properties that could help prevent seizures.
Ocimene has an extremely low boiling point of 66°C/150°F – so the best way to take advantage of its benefits is by using a customizable temperature vaporizer such as the Argo. (For more information, see WikiLeaf’s Customize Your High By Controlling Your Vaporizer Temperature).
Cannabis Families with Abundant Ocimene
To identify strains rich in ocimene, use your nose or select strains that are listed as having a sweet, woodsy aroma similar to mint.Terpene levels vary from harvest to harvest, but some strains consistently produce high levels. According to the most recent tests of our concentrated terpene extracts, our strain with the highest level of ocimene is Jack Herer followed by Green Mountain.