Question: Do you know your terpenes? Responsible for a lot of the aroma and character in many of the plants in which they are found, terpenes are versatile and helpful assistants in any number of soothing and replenishing activities.

This week, it’s all about beta-myrcene. Found in black pepper and cannabis’s close cousin hops, beta-myrcene delivers a very placid punch for those who end up consuming it. And its efficacy is certainly not limited to medicinal uses. Matter of fact, it’s considered a possible candidate for plastic or synthetic rubber. Considering our partnership with repurposeGlobal, we couldn’t be happier with this development

CANNABIS STRAINS HIGH IN MYRCENE: According to Leafly, Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene in all of cannabis — about 40% of the entire plant’s production, on average.It is particularly prevalent in descendents of Afghan strains brought to the country in the ‘60s and ‘70s, although not as much in the landrace “Affie” strain, although we’ve placed it here 

  • Affie 
  • AK-47
  • Blueberry
  • Blue Dream

FOODS HIGH IN MYRCENE:  Black pepper, mangoes, cardamom, ginger oil, thyme, lemongrass tea and beer (again, it’s the hops. We’ve even found a “Myrcene IPA” online.). There’s a whole plant, named myrcia, which also produces plenty of it, natch.

BUT WHAT CAN IT DO?

Effects

In short, we’re still figuring this out. Current research tests these terpenes in isolation with each other, although those studies are in the works. These are the effects these studies will hopefully pursue in the years to come.

Sleep:  Myrcene has often been labeled the “couchlock” terpene, as it has been found in many cannabis strains marketed for sleep. A study found sedative effects in mice, but at VERY high doses and in tandem with barbiturates. As always, we’re waiting on deeper studies pairing it with other synergistic compounds, such as those found in the plant. 

Smell: Myrcene can also account for a tangy, earthy aroma, one of the reasons it was used in foods as a synthetic additive until recently. While this may make no difference in terms of health benefits, it could make whatever is made a lot less difficult to swallow.

Anti Inflammatory: A study within human cartilage-producing cells showed the potential of myrcene to reduce inflammation and the destructive metabolism of specific cytokines, specifically their mRNA and protein. This could have valuable applications for osteoarthritis down the road.

Pain Relief: Indicators in animal studies apparently demonstrate a myrcene-associated desensitization to heat, measured by a “paw lick latency” in a hot plate test. This effect is blocked by the well-known opioid blocker naloxone, which suggests a potential mechanism upon the same opioid receptors.

Antioxidant: A mouse study detected that myrcene was able to prevent ischemic/reperfusion oxidative injury for up to 10 days, and hinted at a potential synergy with other antioxidants, including but not limited to phytocannabinoids. 

WHY THE WHOLE PLANT MATTERS

Like most terpenes, myrcene is extremely difficult to extract on its own from the plant itself. Therefore, as a rule, most terpenes on the market, whether it’s for perfume or for vaping, are synthetically manufactured. A paper which found tumor growth in rats and mice led to the FDA banning myrcene as a food additive, and it’s also on California’s Prop 65 list. This classification has come under dispute recently, but since we haven’t seen any studies claiming that mangoes cause cancer yet, we’re going to consider that staying close to the plant as you can get a safe bet.