Happy Tuesday everyone! It’s time for another edition of everyone’s favorite midweek dose of all things odor – Terpene Tuesday! This week we’re taking a look at the sleepy terpene myrcene.
This musky terp plays an important role in cannabis and is commonly found in heavy Indica strains. What is myrcene? Keep reading to find out!
What is Beta Myrcene?
Myrcene, sometimes known as Beta Myrcene or β-myrcene, is a type of aromatic molecule known as a monoterpene. This means myrcene functions as a precursor to the formation of other terpenes. Like the other terps we’ve covered in this series, beta myrcene has a boatload of therapeutic potential and produces some unique odors. To learn more about terpenes in general, check out our guide to terpenes.
What does Myrcene Smell Like?
It wouldn’t be Terpene Tuesday if we didn’t take a minute to talk about the smells and fragrances of this week’s terp.
Myrcene is known for its earthy peppery aroma that’s complemented by the subtle hint of fruity sweetness. Mangos and guava melons are examples of fruits with myrcene where the understated sweet aroma of the compound really comes through.
Perhaps most famously, hops contain high levels of myrcene. Next time you’re at the bar enjoying the first sip of a cool IPA, pay attention to the earthy smell your beer gives off – that’s the myrcene doing its thing. Some other myrcene rich foods include lemongrass, thyme, and bay leaves.
What Does Myrcene Do?
If you’ve been keeping up with this series, then you know that terpenes do more than just smell nice. Myrcene, in particular, has a myriad of practical uses aside from adding pleasant smells to essential oils and perfumes.
Most notably, myrcene is thought to have powerful sedative-like effects. Traditional Mexican folk medicine has employed the use of myrcene as a natural sleep aid and muscle relaxant in the form of lemongrass tea. One ethnobotanical study performed at the Federal University of Ceará Fortaleza, Brazil, seems to corroborate these claims with science.
When found in cannabis, it’s thought that high levels of myrcene produce the all too familiar couch-lock sensation associated with heavy indica strains. In fact, some speculate that myrcene levels actually determine whether or not a particular strain is a sativa or indica, with sativa strains containing less than .5% myrcene. However, Dr. Josh Kaplan and Leafly’s principal research scientist Dr. Nick Jikomes were unable to find evidence of this claim when lab testing popular sativa, indica, and hybrid strains of cannabis.
Some other potential medicinal myrcene uses include:
- Anti-inflammatory – animal studies suggest that myrcene may help reduce inflammation when consumed orally.
- Antimicrobial – along with other monoterpenes, myrcene can help to prevent the formation of bacteria
- Cancer-inhibiting – There is some evidence that myrcene may help counter the cancer-causing effects of fungal carcinogens called aflatoxins that are commonly found in corn and tree nuts.
Strains High in Myrcene
Ready to kick back and chill out with some cannabis high in myrcene? E1011 Labs’ stem Uplift and stem Relax both include naturally-occuring myrcene and other terpenes found within the hemp plant. Additionally, these strains are also high in the sedating terpene:
- Hindu Kush – A landrace strain and personal favorite.
- Nine Pound Hammer – A cross between Gooberry, Jack the Ripper, and Hells OG, this indica dominant strain is perfect for nighttime.
- Remedy – Remedy is an indica dominant strain with incredibly high levels of CBD and few intoxicating effects, so you can access the curative properties of myrcene while still remaining relatively clearheaded.
Check-in next week when we shift the spotlight to humulene!