The Cannabis Plant
Myrcene: What Is It And How Does It Help?
Apart from cannabinoids, terpenes are among the most recognized essential compound found in the cannabis plant. Myrcene, in particular, offers a plethora of healing properties beneficial to the human body. However, high concentrations of this compound are required to experience its benefits. This is why more and more strains are being bred to contain high amounts of this terpene.
What Is Myrcene?
Famous for its distinct earthy and musky aroma, myrcene is also the most abundant terpene found in cannabis. It is estimated to comprise about 50% of the total terpene content in individual strains. This primary monoterpene is vital as it serves as a precursor needed to manufacture secondary terpenes.
Aside from its numerous health benefits, myrcene also plays a significant role in identifying whether a particular strain will have indica or sativa-dominant effects. When this compound is present in concentrations above 0.5%, it produces sedative effects often attributed to indica strains. On the other hand, if the cannabis contains less than 0.5% of myrcene, it induces energizing sensations typical of sativa breeds.
Role In The Entourage Effect
Apart from giving cannabis its distinct smell and flavor, myrcene also acts as a synergistic compound that interacts with cannabinoids to facilitate the entourage effect. The principle behind this theory is that better results can be achieved when cannabinoids and terpenes work in harmony rather than in isolation.
In this case, myrcene enhances the effects of THC by speeding up its onset. This compound is believed to increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. In turn, boosting the rate at which THC is absorbed by the cells. Such chains of reaction lead to more pronounced psychoactive effects. Furthermore, the inherent medicinal benefits of terpenes that are somehow similar to cannabinoids contribute to the overall relief brought upon by cannabis intake.
The Mango Effect
Owing to its boosting effects on cannabinoids, myrcene is among the most sought-after terpene in existence. It is naturally present not only cannabis but also in other plants such as mangoes. Hence, the rise of the popular canna-folklore that eating mangoes 45 minutes before consuming marijuana can quicken THC’s onset and intensify its psychoactive effects.
While this notion is often dismissed as mere superstition, it turns out that it actually holds some credence. But it is worth noting that while mangoes contain significant amounts of myrcene, this level might not be sufficient to elicit the desired enhancing effects. Additionally, the levels of this terpene may vary in each harvest. To avoid guesswork, it is recommended to take myrcene isolates instead. This way, it can be accurately dosed.
For such a long time, myrcene and other terpenes were overshadowed by cannabinoids. However, as the medical field continues to explore and study terpenes, its benefits are gradually being recognized. For instance, Myrcene – as a primary monoterpene – was discovered to be an effective anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-spasmodic among others. However, the degree of effect of these benefits still depends on vital factors such as dosage, consistency and the body’s reaction to it.
Myrcene, with its anti-inflammatory properties, improves blood circulation and relieve symptoms associated with medical conditions such as arthritis. This compound also inhibits LPS-induced inflammation – a significant characteristic of pleurisy. Moreover, myrcene also impedes the production of nitrogen oxide (NO), cytokines Interferon gamma (IFNγ) and Interleukin-4 (IL-4) which are usually overproduced during lung inflammation. Furthermore, it has been shown to reduce edema by 15.18% by inhibiting prostaglandins production.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory qualities, myrcene is also renowned for its powerful analgesic properties. Such anti-nociceptive benefits are made possible by myrcene’s soothing and sedating effects in the nervous system. This compound also inhibits pain transmission through mediating the release of opioid peptides, endocannabinoids and anti-inflammatory cytokines on primary afferent neurons. In contrast to morphine, repeated administration of high doses of myrcene blocks pain perception in murine subjects without entailing an increase in tolerance levels.
Studies show that myrcene is a potent antimicrobial agent that can suppress the growth of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. In another study, it was also revealed that terpenes with high lipophilicity such as myrcene inhibited the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by suppressing the natural mechanisms of mycobacteria resistance, and hence, increasing the antimycobacterial activity of tuberculostatic antibiotics.
Sedative And Sleep-inducing Effects
The sedative effect of some cannabis strains can be attributed to its myrcene content. This compound was found to exert motor relaxant effects which suppress locomotor activities and induce sleep. However, it is essential to note that maximum results can only be achieved when myrcene is dosed in high concentrations – at least 100 to 200 mg/kg to be precise.
As an antimutagen, myrcene prevents the transformation of mutagenic compounds into mutagens. These unwanted compounds alter the genetic composition of a cell by increasing mutations beyond the normal level. With myrcene’s antimutagenic properties, it inhibits abnormal cell division as observed in cancerous cells. It works by impeding the production of cytochrome P-450 isoenzymes that are required for the activation of premutagens and precarcinogenes.
The monoterpene myrcene exhibits significant therapeutic potential in cancer treatment due to its antimutagenic and anti-proliferative properties. It has been shown to suppress excessive cell proliferation. Furthermore, it is highly cytotoxic to crown gall tumors, breast carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, as well as human cervical and lung carcinoma.
Due to its barbiturate-like sedative effects, myrcene works as a great anti-spasmodic remedy. It relaxes the muscle which effectively reduces the severity of twitching or convulsions. Myrcene, along with the other cannabinoids in terpenes in cannabis, shows great potential in treating muscle spasms in medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Strains High In Myrcene
Given its long list of benefits, it comes as no surprise that strains with high myrcene content are in demand to recreational and medicinal users alike. A word of caution though: to relish the benefits of myrcene, the herb must be heated at least 168°C (334°F) but never exceeding 315°C (600°F). Otherwise, it will burn off and degrade into methacrolein – a potent carcinogenic compound.
This myrcene-packed hybrid is said to be a cross between a Brazilian sativa landrace and South Indian indica. It has a pine-like flavor with a subtle trace of citrus. Being a well-known sativa-dominant strain, it offers a powerful burst of euphoria and stellar cerebral high that will leave anyone stoned for hours on end.
Brimming with high concentrations of myrcene, Skunk XL is among the strains that served as the genetic blueprint for the majority of the cannabis seeds nowadays. It is a cross between Colombian, Mexican and Afghan landraces with a 50/50 sativa-indica mix; such delicate balance results to a strain that induces an instant head high and gradual relaxant effect. Skunk XL is adored for its sweet, fruit-like taste and aroma.
Favored for its sweet berry aroma, Blue Dream is also sought-after for its copious myrcene content which provides anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. When decarboxylated at the right temperature, the synergistic interaction between the THC and myrcene will undoubtedly induce full-body relaxation and cerebral high like no other.
Special Kush #1
Special Kush #1 is a hybrid strain with abundant myrcene content. This classic kush has an untainted earthy, pungent aroma and sweet taste. Given its 80/20 indica-sativa ratio, its effects are astounding relaxation and incredible pain relief which makes this a good choice for patients with chronic pain problems.
The famous Sour Diesel is packed with a lofty mix of myrcene and limonene – terpenes that are both known for their therapeutic properties. It delivers an uplifting and invigorating high with its citrusy flavor. Long-lasting relief from pain, stress, and depression are guaranteed benefits of consuming this strain.
A Promising Panacea
Myrcene, with its vast array of benefits for recreational and medicinal users alike, is indeed a remarkable compound. Not only does it enhance the effects of THC to bring forth an intense high, but it also serves as an antidote to various ailments. It is even eyed as a potential cure to the most formidable disease in existence – cancer.
Medical professionals are still in the process of exploring myrcene’s other possible benefits and how it should best be used. But so far, its potential is promising. And despite being mostly overlooked in the past, myrcene proves to be a phenomenal terpene worthy of being called “panacea.”