We’re surrounded by so much information about cannabis and we think we know the good and bad alike. Truth is, we still know very little about it and we’re still discovering new things. In that sense, perhaps many people haven’t heard of terpenes which help enhance the effect of cannabinoids and THC.
Each of these terpenes have their own potentially healing properties and aside from the cannabis, can be found in other plans too. In fact, they are also used in many of the commercially available products - we just don’t know enough to recognize them.
Myrcene is one such terpene which is especially important as it has shown various healing properties like reducing pain, slowing cartilage deterioration and relaxing the muscles. But what are these terpenes and what do they actually do?
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in plants and some insects. They give off a distinct aroma that’s intended to ward off herbivores from eating the plant or to attract their natural enemy. People naturally associate the terpenes, unknowingly, with cannabis because it has a very high percentage of the chemical compound.
The terpenes, other than providing an aroma, are believed to have beneficial physiological and therapeutic effects. There are many different types of terpenes found in an individual strain of cannabis like linalool, limonene, pinene, caryophyllene and myrcene.
Each of them have certain benefits to the body like anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory. Antidepressant and other properties. However the most common and most known is Myrcene as it is present in most cannabis strains.
What Is Myrcene?
Myrcene, also known as beta myrcene, gives off an earthy and musky aroma depending on the other terpenes present in the strain. It’s a monoterpene, meaning that not only it has a very simple structure but it’s also the precursor to other more complex terpenes.
Myrcene can be found in a lot of products that we use on a day to day basis as a fragrance or a flavoring. It has a sweet and citrusy taste so it’s a popular food flavoring ingredient. Other than that, Myrcene is considered to have many potential health benefits.
Benefits Of Myrcene
Myrcene and other similar Terpenes have been the subject of many studies since the 1990’s and are still under the microscopes of scientists. But the research thus far shows that Myrcene has the following benefits:
As Myrcene can be found in hops and lemongrass too, tea and herbal medicine from these plants have been used as a sleeping aid and muscle relaxant for years and years back. Some cannabis strains have more myrcene in them and are recreationally known as ‘indica’ because of that relaxing and sedative state it puts users in.
According to a 2002 study conducted on mice, high doses of myrcene slowed the mices movement significantly by relaxing the muscles and increased the duration of sleep by 2.6 times. Therefore, strains with higher percentages of myrcene could help relax people under stress or those who suffer from insomnia.
Anti-inflammatory and Anti-catabolic
Cannabis is known to alleviate inflammation and pain caused by osteoarthritis, but this specific monoterpene Myrcene, is the active agent in that relief. A 2015 study by the European Journal of Pharmacology showed that Myrcene has anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic effects on an osteoarthritis cell model.
This meant it slowed, and in some cases even halted the deterioration of the cartilage. Strains high in Myrcene in combination with CBD can help osteoarthritis sufferers alleviate their pain, but other than osteoarthritis, Myrcene can help in reducing inflammation in other cells and organs in the human body.
Lemongrass, rich in myrcene has been used as an analgesic in folk medicine for many years. Furthermore, it has been studied in depth in a 1990 study when mice were subjected to an acetic acid writhing test and a hot plate method. The administration of myrcene proved to inhibit the pain perception in mice in both tests, acting as an analgesic. Myrcene could very well alleviate some common pains like sprains and bruises in a similar fashion to morphine, sans the negative effects.
The Entourage Effect
The cannabis is composed of THC and CBD as the most commonly recognized compounds. However, cannabis actually has a lot more compounds that may be present in lesser quantities but contribute to the overall psychoactive and medicinal properties of the plant. In science, this is commonly known as the Entourage effect, where the compounds enhance one another and work better as a whole, rather than individually.
That’s why there are so many types of cannabis strains that have different percentages of terpenes in addition to CBD and THC. Strains like OG Kush, Tangie, Grape Ape and others are known to have high levels of myrcene in them and are good for patients who need to treat pain, inflammation or insomnia.
Why is Myrcene Important?
Cannabis in general has been a subject of many researches and studies for years and we’re getting closer to finding its full potential. However as much as we know, there’s much more left to discover and learn. Terpenes have been used as folk remedy for centuries back without much knowledge of the science behind it. That’s why lemongrass, which is rich in myrcene, has been used as a sleeping aid in Mexican folk medicine for centuries.
Research has shown thus far that Myrcene has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and sedative properties which should alleviate problems for patients with insomnia, osteoarthritis and chronic pain. Although Myrcene, and the entourage effect, is still subject to research, its stable nature shows a promising effect on alternative medicine.
That’s why studying Myrcene and its properties is important - we need to better understand how it works within the cannabis plant and in correlation with other terpenes, as well as its effect on the human body. Based on this knowledge, later we could produce strains with the right amounts of myrcene and other terpenes in order to better target inflammation and pain.