As regular readers of our educational blogs, we know you’re already familiar with terpenes, the fragrant essential oils that give different strains of cannabis—and so many other plants and natural substances—their distinctive aromas and flavors. But they do so much more than provide alluring scents! As we’re discovering, terpenes elicit powerful effects on our bodies, too. And none of them is as important as myrcene, the most abundant of the cannabis plant’s roughly 200 known terpenes. If you’ve ever noticed an earthy scent in your cannabis that reminds you of lemongrass, basil, bay laurel or—most strikingly—fresh mangoes, there’s a great chance you’re detecting the presence of myrcene.
Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating plant compound. What does myrcene do in the body, and how can you find it in cannabis?
What Does Myrcene Do For Us?
While myrcene is only a single terpene, it’s the precursor—the grandmother, so to speak—of many others. Myrcene is believed to assist cannabinoids in passing the blood-brain barrier, acting as a sort of “booster” for the powerful effects of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN. In fact, the myrcene content of a given cannabis plant is so crucial that its content essentially dictates whether or not the cannabis will exhibit a sativa-like energizing effect or an indica-like sedative effect.
Strains with a myrcene content over .5% are believed to exhibit broadly sedative effects. That’s important when it comes to fighting pain; in rodent-based studies, myrcene has been shown to reduce the perception of pain by helping stimulate opioid receptors (but with a far more sustainable long-term effect than synthetic opioids such as fentanyl). Studies on humans, not to mention a wealth of anecdotal evidence, suggest that this effect is similar in our bodies as well. (Though, yes, we do need more cannabis studies to make a more direct correlation.)
Studies suggest myrcene can also help reduce inflammation, one of the body’s primary responses to physical injury and pain. This can make it a powerful ingredient in non-psychoactive topicals, by the way….
How to Get Myrcene from Cannabis
Many cannabis strains are already naturally high in myrcene, and because it’s precursor to other terpenes, as we mentioned a moment ago, it’s found in at least some quantity in many if not most cannabis.
OG Kush is a potent high-THC strain, and its piney, peppery and earthy aromas lead many fans to label it the ultimate “dank” weed. Its pleasurable effects include strong euphoria and general uplift, but be forewarned: It can exhibit powerful “couch lock”!
White Widow is a potent, crystal-dusted strain, known for imparting a strong euphoric and energizing effect. Those resinous crystals should serve as a warning: This is an extremely potent strain with a high THC content.
Skunk XL is especially well-balanced between indica and sativa effects. You’ll feel a strong body high characterized by the relaxing and calming effects associated with high levels of myrcene. But there are energetic, cerebral elements to this interesting hybrid, making it both powerfully “stony” but functional and motivational as well.