MERCY, MERCY, MYRCENE!: THE KNOCK-OUT TERPENE
Myrcene is one of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis. Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds known as hydrocarbons. They can be noted as the fragrant oils that are secreted from the resin glands in cannabis plants. However, myrcene, as well as the other terpenes, are in no way unique to cannabis. For example, myrcene is found in plants such as hops, lemongrass, parsley, bay and thyme. This particular terpene is noted by having an earthy or musky scent and can promote sedative effects. According to a study in 2002, myrcene acted as a muscle tranquilizer in mice, and enhanced barbiturate-induced sleep time at high doses (2). Similarly, sedative effects have been noted by cannabis users who consume mangoes prior to medicating. This is said to be because of the high concentration of myrcene in this tropical fruit.
Myrcene has been widely used throughout history for analgesic purposes. It is prevalent in essential oils containing high percentages of terpenes, which are used as alternative and complimentary medicines. In one study, mice suffering from pleurisy (inflammation of the lung lining) were orally administered an essential oil containing high levels of myrcene. The study found that myrcene could inhibit the inflammation, including cell migration, which is a prime component of the inflammatory response (1).
Despite all of the research, the function of myrcene is not fully understood yet. Nevertheless, it is overly apparent that myrcene has a promising role in the treatment of inflammation and pain, and aids general relaxation.
1- Souza, M. C., et al. "Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential oils from two Asteraceae species." Die Pharmazie-An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 58.8 (2003): 582-586.
2- do Vale TG, Furtado EC, Santos JG, Jr, Viana GS. Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) n.e. Brown. Phytomed. 2002;9:709–714.
Originally Featured in Breakwater Treatment and Wellness October & November 2017 Newsletter