Terpene Tuesday: Myrcene – Cannabis’ Most Prominent Terp

In our previous post, The Dirt on Terpenes, we laid out the basics of these aromatic compounds found throughout nature. In cannabis, terpenes work in conjunction with cannabinoids to create the large variety of strains available, with their wide array of aromas, flavor profiles, and effects on the human body.  

Myrcene breakdown
Pro tip: if you want to maximize this terpene’s extraction, use a temperature-specific vaporizer set to the myrcene boiling point of 331 degrees F.

Now we’d like to take a deeper look at Myrcene (also referred to as β-myrcene), the most prevalent terpene found in cannabis, according to a landmark 1997 Swiss study. A comparison of lab samples done by Leafly suggests that a whopping 40% of strains available in provisioning centers are myrcene dominant.  

Myrcene has an earthy, musky scent – think cloves or basil. Beer lovers will know it as one of hop’s essential oils. Its also found in high levels in lemongrass, thyme, and mangoes. (It’s said if you eat mangoes when smoking, the extra myrcene will increase the effects of the cannabis.) 

Cloves
Myrcene lends its musky, earthy scent to cloves.

The terpene is named after Myrcia sphaerocarpa, a medicinal plant from Brazil that was traditionally used by natives as a healing poultice and has been studied for its anti-diabetic effects. Myrcene demonstrates a number of medicinal effects, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic propertiesIts purported sedative effects explain why traditionally plants with more than .5% myrcene were said to fall under the indica umbrella, although more recent Leafly lab reports suggest that myrcene is equally common among indica, hybrids, and sativa strains.  

Myrcene is especially important for its “entourage effect,” a term which describes how terpenes can enhance or modify the effects of cannabinoids on the body. Myrcene is a particularly powerful terpene because evidence suggests that it may affect the permeability of cell membranes, increasing the ability of THC to cross the blood-brain barrier, and thereby increasing the THC’s psychoactive potential.  

So what strains should you look at if you want to explore some with higher levels of myrcene? A few popular options include OG Kush, Blue Dream, White Widow, and Grape Ape. 

Check back soon for more Terpene Tuesday profiles!

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