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Terpene of the Month: Myrcene, the Most Abundant Terpene

You may have noticed a recent trend in the world of cannabis. Instead of talking about “indica vs sativa”—or even “THC vs CBD”—many cannabis consumers are focusing on terpenes as a way to characterize different strains.

Even if you’ve never heard the term before, you’re familiar with terpenes. They’re the fragrant hydrocarbons (or what many call “essential oils”) that give different strains of cannabis—and countless other plants and natural substances—their distinctive aromas and flavors.

Terpenes, as it turns out, do a lot besides impart lovely scents. Each terpene has an effect on the body, ranging from boosting cannabis’ anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities to possibly helping treat serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and one day even cancer.

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For now, let’s begin with myrcene, one of the most commonly discussed terpenes

Myrcene: What Does It Smell and Taste Like?

While myrcene is popular and plentiful in some strains, it’s difficult to pick out a singular aroma. 

For one, many terpenes have broadly similar characteristics. That said, if you’ve ever noticed a musky, earthy scent that reminds you of lemongrass, basil, bay laurel, or even fresh mangoes, there’s a good chance you’re picking up on its myrcene.

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What’s more, myrcene is the chemical precursor to many other terpenes, making it perhaps the single most important member of the terpene family.

What Does It Do For Us?

Terpenes aren’t the only compounds in cannabis that affect our body. You’re probably already familiar with THC and CBD, the two most important cannabinoids. But terpenes elicit specific bodily responses as well, and the effects of myrcene, whether in cannabis or in other plants, have been documented for years now. 

Some known effects of myrcene include:

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  • Sedation: Cannabis strains containing over .5% myrcene content are known to have broadly sedative effects. Good to remember when insomnia strikes!
  • Pain Relief: In some rodent-based studies, myrcene has been shown to reduce the perception of pain. Studies on humans, as well as plenty of anecdotal evidence, suggest that this works much the same way in humans, too.
  • Anti-Inflammation: Studies suggest myrcene has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This is one of the reasons cannabis topicals are so effective, even if they don’t have any psychoactive effects associated with them. 

We’re fans of all things cannabis—there’s a lot of good that comes from this simple plant! Terpenes are a big part of what makes medical marijuana so great. While they’re no replacement for phytocannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN, they offer their own unique advantages, and we look forward to sharing more about these hydrocarbons with you.