In this issue of Terpene Profiles, the properties of myrcene are broken down and the therapeutic benefits are explored. Get to know this terpene and discover what studies are currently being done to determine its wide variety of medicinal benefits.
Molecular Mass: 136.23404 g/mol
Decarboxylation Point: 115-145°C (239°F to 293°F)*
Boiling Point: 168 °C (334 °F)
Vapor Pressure: 7.00 mmHg ( 20 °C)
LD50 (Lethal Dose): >5g/kg (Compare to Nicotine: for rats – 50 mg/kg, for humans – 0.5-1 mg/kg)
Myrcene is a monoterpene, the smallest of the terpenes, it is found in very high concentrations in sweet basil, hops, mangoes and cannabis. Myrcene is described as possessing an earthy, fruity clove-like odor, but can be very pungent in higher concentrations, as in heavily hopped beers. Not surprisingly, hops and cannabis are cousins, both members of the family Cannabaceae. Myrcene gets its name from Myrcia sphaerocarpa, a medicinal shrub from Brazil that contains very high amounts of myrcene which has been used there for ages as a folk remedy for diabetes, dysentery, diarrhea, and hypertension. A 1997 study conducted in Switzerland analyzed various cannabis strains for 16 terpenes and found myrcene to be the most abundant terpene out of those studied (others include Pinene, Limonene, Carene, Humulene, Bergamotene, Terpinolene, and Caryophyllene). For some strains, the myrcene content can be over half the total terpene content.
Myrcene is crucial in the formation of other terpenes and it synergizes the antibiotic potential of other terpenes. One reason why myrcene could be so commonly found in cannabis is that it has been shown to changeÂ the permeability of cell membranes to allow more absorption of cannabinoids by the brain. This effect of myrcene has been known about since the 1970s and long ago spawned a rumor that eating a ripe mango before smoking would get you higher. According to recent information published by Steep Hill Labs, a major cannabis testing laboratory in the Bay Area, for most people eating a fresh mango 45 minutes before inhaling cannabis will increase the effects of that cannabis. Rev. Dr. Kymron de Cesare of Steep Hill is an advocate of what he calls “overlapping synergies” between myrcene and other terpenes with the various cannabinoids, such as how myrcene makes THC more effective.
Analgesic: Relieves pain.
Antibacterial: Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-Diabetic: Helps mitigate the effects of diabetes.
Anti-inflammatory: Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Insomnia: Aids with sleep.
Anti-Proliferative/Anti-Mutagenic: Inhibits cell mutation, including cancer cells.
Antipsychotic: Tranquilizing effects relieve symptoms of psychosis.
Antispasmodic: Suppresses muscle spasms.
Halent 2011 – Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Chart
Currently Being Studied For
Diabetes: The University of Jordan was the first research university to investigate the folk remedy of Myrcene as a cure for diabetes. This 2007 study convincingly showed that myrcene and another terpene, thujone, both had a hand in mitigating the effects of diabetes. This was a pilot study done on mice and needs further research to better understand the mechanisms of action.
Analgesic: Myrcene has the unique ability to stimulate the release of endogenous opiates in the body, allowing for pain reduction without any need of external opiate pills. The analgesic effects of myrcene have been known about since the 1990s when a pair of studies demonstrated the pain-relieving power of this terpene. Lorenzetti et al (1991) found myrcene to be promising enough to become a new class of aspirin-like drugs that used a completely different channel in the body. This 2008 study re-examined and reinforced the analgesic effects of myrcene, yet did little to expand our knowledge.
Sedative: Myrcene was shown to produce barbiturate-like sedative effects in mice in very high doses in this 2002 study. It was also shown that these effects increased if citral, a mixture of other terpenes, was present as well. Lorenzetti et al (1991) also demonstrated strong sedative effects.
Not Anti-Depressant or Anti-Anxiety: Da Silva et Al (1990) sought out to analyze the nerurobehavioral effects of myrcene on mice. What they found was that, despite having strong analgesic and sedative effects, it had no impact on reducing anxiety, depression, or psychosis. This 2002 study in the Journal of Phytomedicine found that at high doses myrcene can actually increase anxiety, rather than reduce it.
Potentially Carcinogenic: A 2010 study found evidence that beta-myrcene was carcinogenic. The National Toxicology Program found “equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity of beta-myrcene”. This study has prompted The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to propose listing beta-myrcene as a cancer causing compoundÂ under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.