There are over 20,000 terpenes in nature, filling our gardens with uplifting fragrance, our kitchens with enticing aromas and our hemp with wellbeing benefits. But until recently, the importance of these aromatic compounds in the medical cannabis industry has been a little skimmed over.
Now, most ‘bud tenders’ in the areas of the world where this plant is legal to buy and consume for health concerns will tell you (quite rightly) that the terpene profile of a cannabis strain will make as much of a difference to the overall impact on your mind and body as the cannabinoids: the taste, the smell and of course, the effects.
The way terpenes shape the experience of consuming cannabis is vital information for anyone interested in trying out this plant – in whole plant form, in full or broad spectrum CBD oil or terpene-infused CBD isolate. This is because different terpenes do different things. And different ratios can yield wildly different results. There are over 100 terpenes frequently found in cannabis strains, but 10 which are most common and in highest profusion.
In our last terpene article, we looked deeper into Beta-Caryophyllene – a sesquiterpene which has risen to fame for its unique ability to bind to CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Today we’d like to introduce you to Myrcene – an insomniac's best friend.
Fruity, earthy and musky – Myrcene is generally the most abundant terpene found in cannabis (up to 65% of the terpene profile in some strains!), as well as being found in significant levels in mango, lemon grass, hops and many other plants besides.
If you’ve heard good things about taking CBD oil for a restful night’s sleep, myrcene is likely to be one of the main components of the plant extract which lends itself to this.
One particular study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology has made it to the forefront in terpene research, reporting the impressive sedative effects of myrcene as well as its motor relaxant and pain relieving abilities. Further studies have also shown outstanding results when using Myrcene as an anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic all of which also contribute to a more restful sleep if pain is a problem. Unsurprisingly, the reported usefulness in both growing muscle mass and muscle-related issues makes this terpene a favourite among fitness fanatics and body builders.
Can Myrcene enhance your CBD experience?
Aside from its standalone benefits, Myrcene has also been shown to potentially heighten the effects of THC, CBD and CBG, as well as possibly being a precursor to all other terpenes! More research needs to be done to fully understand these mechanisms, but one detailed 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology titled "Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects" stated that the synergistic relationship between myrcene and the cannabinoids within the cannabis plant is one of crucial significance.
Dr Ethan Russo, who led the study, concluded that Myrcene works with CBD to reduce pain and inflammation in patients, as well as an ability to block the cancer-causing effects of aflatoxins. When used in combination with THC, Myrcene reduced pain, acted as an effective muscle relaxant and exhibited sedative properties. And alongside CBG, Myrcene showed potential to relieve the effects of cancer.
As with all elements of the cannabis plant, it seems highly likely Myrcene (and all terpenes for that matter) is far more potent when working together with all of the other plant molecules and compounds – as in full spectrum CBD products.
Hemp isn’t the only plant used to harness the sleepy effects of Myrcene…
As mentioned above, Myrcene can be found in lots of different plants and many of these have been used to produce sleep-inducing effects for thousands of years. Lemongrass tea is one myrcene-rich Brazilian folk medicine used to combat pain and anxiety. Popular natural sleep remedies Valerian and Lavender are also high in this terpene.
What’s next for Myrcene research?
We’ve entered seriously exciting times for cannabis research and in that includes looking into these all-important terpenes. There are a number of things that will hopefully be investigated in greater detail over the coming years, including the potential cancer-beating properties, the ways in which Myrcene actually interacts with the body to produce its effects and an anecdotal belief that while in higher doses Myrcene is sedative, in low concentrations it may actually be energising! For now, we’ll continue to enjoy this wonder of nature in our CBD oils and look forward to learning more as the information becomes available.