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A Review on Myrcene Structure, Uses, Strains & Proposition 65

A Guide on Myrcene Structure, Uses, Strains & Proposition 65


Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis strains; here is the ultimate guide on myrcene structure, uses, strains, and what proposition 65 means in regards to this terpene.

An Intro to Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes are a class of organic hydrocarbons that give plants and insects their distinct aromas because they are aromatic. Terpenes help to attract pollinators as well as to repel predators so they are an integral part of the heath of plants. Apart from this, recent research is now showing that terpenes have therapeutic potential and play a role in boosting the healing effect of cannabinoids in cannabis. When cannabinoids and terpenes are working together in synergy to produce a dynamic healing response it is referred to as the entourage effect. Because of this property, terpenes have become an integral part of cannabinoid-based therapy.

What is Myrcene?

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in most cannabis strains, in some strains it makes up as much as 60% of the total terpene profile.

Myrcene Aroma

Myrcene has a characteristic skunky clove-like odor; in higher concentrations the smell can be pungent. It is hard to miss the smell of myrcene from most marijuana strains especially varieties such as Kush that have a strong skunk like scent. If you pass through a neighborhood with a mature canopy and happen to catch a whiff of skunk this is most likely due to myrcene.

Myrcene Structure

Myrcene (also known as beta myrcene) is a natural hydrocarbon molecule with 25 bonds; it is an acyclic monoterpene with an acyclic structure.  Monoterpenes have a simple structure and are commonly precursors to more complex terpenes.

The name myrcene is derived from Myrcia sphaerocarpa, a shrub used in traditional Brazilian medicine for treating diabetes, diarrhea, and hypertension. Levels of terpene in most cannabis strains range from 0.04% to 1.9% of total content.

Myrcene Appearance

Myrcene is an oily yellow colored viscous liquid with a clove-like aroma. The taste is surprisingly mildly sweet and citrusy. Myrcene is commonly used to flavor foods.

Myrcene Effects

After taking myrcene-rich marijuana strains, users have reported the following effects:

  • Relaxation
  • Sedation
  • Calm
  • Good mods

Alternative Sources of Myrcene

Other than marijuna myrcene can also be found in a variety of herbs, fruits and spices including:

  • Mangoes
  • Cloves
  • Hops
  • Lemongrass
  • Pomegranate
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Thyme
  • Bay
  • Basil

Mangoes, in particular, are believed to have a high amount of myrcene. There is a theory that eating a mango before consuming weed helps to enhance the effects of THC. Ideally, you should take the mango 45 minutes before you begin toking up.

Here is the science behind the theory.

Does Myrcene Lower Resistance A cross the Blood-Brain Barrier?

There are no peer- reviewed studies to show proof that myrcene lowers resistance at the blood brain barrier. Unfortunately the internet is awash with claims of myrcene enhancing the effects of other cannabinoids through improving permeability at the blood-brain barrier. If this is the underpinning thought behind eating a mango before toking up to enhance the effects of THC then it is probably just hogwash. However, there could be a different mechanism to explain this theory. On the other hand, a different terpene by the name of borneol has been shown to have this effect; lowering resistance at the blood-brain barrier.

Myrcene: Indica Versus Sativa

It is believed that one can tell whether a strain is indica or sativa leaning by looking at the myrcene amount. Myrcene is associated with the couch-lock effect which also happens in indica strains which produce a full-bodied response. This strong body effect is the connection between the two; myrcene and indicas. However, there is no evidence to support the theory that strains with more than 0.5% myrcene are likely to be indicas while those with lease are likely to be sativas. For example, Tangie and Blue Dream are sativa strains which have a high myrcene content.

Myrcene Uses

Myrcene has surfaced in a number of preliminary studies as a therapeutic agent. So far the following areas appear promising.

1.   Myrcene Sedative Effects

The sedative effects of hops and lemon grass are attributable to the presence of high amounts of myrcene. When combined with cannabinoids it synergizes the sedative effect of THC through the entourage effect.

A study that was conducted in 2002 showed that myrcene has sedative as well as muscle relaxing benefits.

2.   Anti-inflammatory Effects

Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Research has shown that myrcene has potent anti-inflammatory effects.

A study that was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology in 2015 showed reduced inflammation and catabolic activity in patients suffering from arthritis after they were given myrcene. This shows that myrcene could help to slow down the progression of arthritis.

3.   Analgesic Effects

Myrcene has significant analgesic effects similar to that offered by opioid analgesics. Some studies have shown that naloxone which is an antidote for opioids blocks the action of myrcene suggesting that myrcene has activity at the opioid receptor. This means that consuming myrcene-rich strains could offer significant pain relief.

Myrcene has been shown to reduce nociceptive pain which is associated with injuries such as bruises.

4.   Anti-Diabetic Effects

Myrcene could help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels; in a mouse model myrcene was shown to reduce serum glucose levels by 28.1%. When compared to the anti-diabetic drug metformin, the two had a similar effect as metformin reduced serum glucose levels by 28.5%. Also, myrcene has been used in Brazil traditionally to manage diabetes. Larger clinical trials would be helpful to confirm the preliminary evidence.

High Myrcene Marijuana Strains

Myrcene can be found in both indica and sativa strains as well as high THC and high CBD strains.  Most strains that have a strong earthy, skunky, or clove-like aroma will have high amounts of myrcene. The following strains have high amounts of myrcene:

  • OG Kush
  • Blue Dream
  • Grape Ape
  • Remedy
  • Grandaddy Purple
  • Tangie
  • Miracle Alien Cookies
  • Harlequin
  • Mango Kush

Myrcene & Proposition 65

Myrcene is currently listed as a cancer causing agent in the Proposition 65 list. Isoprene is another terpene that is also featured on this list. Proposition 65 (which applies in California) requires businesses to give clear warnings about significant exposures to cancer causing chemicals in their products or environment.

A report from the National Toxicology Program found that high doses of myrcene administered to lab rats had carcinogenic effects. Male rats experienced higher incidence of liver and kidney cancer after treatment with daily doses of myrcene. However, these results have not been replicated in a human model when myrcene is given in normal dietary doses. There is no evidence that moderate to high doses of myrcene can cause cancer in humans. The FDA removed synthetic forms of myrcene from its list of approved food additives after results of the study were released. Natural forms of myrcene found in small amounts in plants such as cannabis are unlikely to cause a problem.

Does myrcene make you sleepy?

Lemon grass which contains high amounts of myrcene has been used for decades as a sleep aid. Germans have also used myrcene-rich hops in the manufacture of sleep aids. Research has shown that myrcene has muscle relaxant, analgesic, and sedative effects all of which help to promote restful sleep.

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However, randomized clinical trials investigating the sedative benefits of myrcene need to be carried out to confirm this.

Does Myrcene have anti- cancer effects?

In vitro studies have shown that myrcene has an inhibitory effect on the cancer causing effects of aflatoxins. Myrcene inhibits the liver enzyme that is responsible for inducing the damage caused by aflatoxins on the DNA.

Does Myrcene Cause Cancer?

Some researchers have linked myrcene with an increased risk for liver and kidney cancer, with a higher incidence in males. This was based on a mouse-model study where the mice were given high doses of myrcene on a daily basis. These results have not been replicated in a human model and there is no evidence to confirm increased risk for cancer in humans related to dietary intake of myrcene. Additionally some studies have shown that myrcene has anti-cancer benefits as mentioned above.

This wraps up our comprehensive guide on myrcene structure, uses, and proposition 65, feel free to write to us and let us know if this was helpful.


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