Myrcene, or β-myrcene, is a very useful monoterpene found in cannabis. Besides this major terpene being present in hemp and marijuana plants, it is also found in large concentrations in fresh mangoes and many herbs and plants like hop, rosemary and laurel.
The name that this monoterpene carries, comes from the plant Myrica salicifolia. In its turn, the name of this plant is derived from the Greek word myrike, which stands for fragrance (scent). The fragrant aroma reminds of the smell that mint, lemons and ripe mangoes, spread.
However, large quantities of myrcene can spread a very sharp, sometimes even unpleasant odor, like the typical hop aroma in beer and the pungent smell of weed. Myrcene, amongst other applications, is used as a raw material for the manufacturing of a variety of fragrances, including the like roses smelling geraniol.
Unique feature of myrcene
The terpene myrcene has a very special characteristic. It is capable to increase the level of saturation of the cannabinoid type 1 receptor, also known by the abbreviation CB1, to a maximum level. The CB1 receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system and are mainly located in the central nervous system in our body.
Thanks to this unique feature, myrcene is able to enhance the psycho activity of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) through which the user experiences a more intense effect of this plant cannabinoid. Moreover, it ensures that the effect of THC occurs faster and the effect lasts longer. For recreational users of cannabis it is of good advice to prior (about an hour) before consuming marijuana, to eat a mango.
Causing the famous couch-lock effect
Myrcene has another special feature that can be seen by many to be undesirable. After consumption of a cannabis plant that has more than 0.5% myrcene, the familiar couch-lock effect may occur. This means that you feel sluggish and lethargic and do not want to leave the couch. Work may be affected and important tasks are not completed.
This couch-lock effect, known as a heavy stoned feeling, is mainly caused by the so-called Indica strains, while Sativa strains, which include hemp, do not cause this side effect. This is because Sativa plants generally contain a lower content than 0.5% myrcene.
Advantage in medical field
Although the couch-lock effect is perceived as undesirable by many users, it may just be a great benefit to the medical field. For some patients this couch-lock effect means a forced moment of complete rest. It is a truism that rest ensures a faster recovery from all kinds of diseases, disorders and discomforts. Therefore, in the treatment of many diseases is opted for an Indica dominant cannabis strain.
Certain mood disorders, including depression for example, are an exception, and are better treated by Sativa dominant marijuana species. These plants provide a more cerebral, energetic, uplifting high instead of a body high like a languid and stoned feeling.
Medicinal purpouses of myrcene
Myrcene has calming, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it can be used as a muscle relaxant and sedative agent. Myrcene can provide protection in order to reduce cancer and, moreover, it can reduce epileptic seizures. Furthermore, it can serve as an antioxidant and anti-bacterial agent.
- Muscle relaxant
- Sleep stimulating/ hypnotic
Function of myrcene in plants
One of the beneficial functions of myrcene to the plant, is that they have a signalling molecule, called a pheromone. With pheromones important messages can be transmitted. This is also a well-known phenomenon that occurs in honey bees. When the beehive is likely to be endangered, the bees spread an aggression pheromone so the workers know that they must operate in an offensive-mode.
In plants in which the terpene myrcene is present, it may issue such a similar warning if there is a risk of an unwanted intruder. When the smell of myrcene is distributed, natural enemies of the predator are being lured to the plant, after which the harmful herbivore will be disabled.
Chemical data of myrcene
- The chemical formula of myrcene is: C10H16
- The molecular mass is: 136.23 g / mol
- The systematic name is called: 7-methyl-3-methylideenocta-1,6-diene
- Boiling point: 168 ° C (334 ° F)
- Flashpoint: 39 ° C
- Vapor pressure: 100 Pa / 7:00 mmHg (20 ° C)
- Density: 0.801 g / cm³
- Myrcene can be well dissolved in ethanol
In which plants does myrcene occur?
Myrcene is found in large concentrations in cannabis, but also occurs in many other plants and herbs. It is a common ingredient in hops, laurel, rosemary and chamomile. It is also found in echinacea, Artemisia annua, valerian and lavender. It also occurs in chilies, ginger, mango, blackcurrant and apricots.