What Is Myrcene and What Are the Benefits, Effects, and Top Strains?

Myrcene terpene
By Anthony Pellegrino Updated July 1st

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Cannabis is an incredibly complex plant. It contains hundreds of different compounds besides the famous THC and CBD. (1) And as time goes on, more and more cannabis consumers are investigating these many other compounds in an effort to enhance their marijuana experience. As a result, terpenes and their influence on a strain’s effects and possible benefits have drawn new interest.

Myrcene is one of the many terpenes found in the cannabis plant. It can also be found in mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, and hops. It is used to enhance the flavor in some foods and beers. And thanks to its sweet and pleasant aroma, it is a commonly used compound in the fragrance industry.

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes, representing the dominant terpene in 20 - 40% of modern commercial cannabis strains. (2)

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How Does Myrcene Work?

The myrcene terpene derives its name from a shrub indigenous to Brazil called Myrcia sphaerocarpa that was traditionally used to treat medical conditions such as diabetes, dysentery, diarrhea, and hypertension.

Does this mean myrcene can be used to treat these conditions? Well, not so fast. 

myrcene terpene

Myrcene is well known for its potential sedative effects, as seen in plants like hops and lemongrass, and there is significant medical interest in the compound. Myrcene is presently the subject of many scientific studies due to its possible beneficial effects on inflammation and its potential use as an analgesic, or pain reliever.

And while myrcene is interesting on its own, one of its most promising features is the potential to synergize and boost the benefits of many of the other terpenes found in cannabis. For example, some medical research has claimed that myrcene positively affects transdermal absorption and increases cannabinoid transport through the blood-brain barrier. 

Many of the claims about myrcene’s potential benefits are derived from traditional folk medicine and animal research. Other studies are in the very early stages, often testing the impact of the terpene in significantly higher quantities than are found in commercially available cannabis products. So while there are promising implications, further research is required. 

Potential Benefits of Myrcene

As terpenes gain notoriety, the internet has become flooded with inaccurate claims about what they can do, and many early-stage studies have been misrepresented or overstated. So while we don’t want to take away from the work researchers have already done, it’s important to reiterate that myrcene is not currently an accepted treatment for any of the conditions mentioned in this article.

Does myrcene make you sleepy?

Traditional folk medicine has made considerable use of myrcene as a sleep aid. And modern research has demonstrated that, in high quantities, myrcene does seem to produce sedative effects in lab rats. (3, 4)

Research into its sedative effects on humans, on the other hand, is still sparse. And most commercial cannabis products are unlikely to contain high enough quantities of myrcene to deliver a strong sedative effect, regardless. So, while it may have extensive uses in folk medicine, there is no hard evidence myrcene found in cannabis can aid your sleep.

Is myrcene an anti-inflammatory? And can myrcene offer pain relief?

A 1991 study demonstrated that an oral dose of myrcene (in the form of lemongrass) provided some pain-relief to lab rats without any addiction or dependency. Another 2015 study suggests that myrcene could play a role in fighting inflammation and pain related to osteoarthritis. But studies have, thus far, been limited to animal research, and more research is needed to understand whether these pain-relieving properties extend to humans. (5, 6, 7)

Can myrcene reduce skin damage?

Some reports suggest that myrcene may boost transdermal absorption. And a 2017 study published by the American Journal of Chinese Medicine showed results that may suggest myrcene could benefit skin aging. This may be one reason why so many lotions that claim to reduce skin damage are developed using lemongrass. (8)

However, the actual research into transdermal absorption (and its associated skin benefits) is still limited. As such, myrcene is not an accepted treatment for skin damage.

Cannabis Strains High in Myrcene

Regardless of how myrcene interacts with the body, the actual effects of any cannabis product can vary from one user to the next. Not only that, but every strain has a distinct chemical composition, with differing quantities of myrcene (along with dozens of other terpenes and cannabinoids). 

If you're looking for those marijuana strains that typically have high percentages of myrcene, be sure to try the following:

  • OG Kush
  • Sour Diesel
  • Granddaddy Purple
  • Blue Dream
  • Jack Herer
  • Grape Ape
  • Critical Mass
  • Cherry Pie

There are ample medical claims being thrown around about the benefits of myrcene. However, it must be remembered that the vast majority of them are anecdotal or require additional research. At the end of the day, further medical studies are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding myrcene and its effects. 

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  1. Atakan, Zerrin. “Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals.” NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736954/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  2. “What is Myrcene? Benefits & Effects of This Cannabis Terpene.” Finest Labs, 6 August 2021, https://finestlabs.com/myrcene-terpene/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  3. Romero, O. “Plants used by Mexican traditional medicine with presumable sedative properties: an ethnobotanical approach.” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1308799/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  4. Viana, GSB. “Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) ne Brown.” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12587690/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  5. Ferreira, SH. “Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea.” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1753786/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  6. “Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic effects of E-caryophyllene, myrcene and limonene in a cell model of osteoarthritis.” PubMed, 5 March 2015, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25622554/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  7. “Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential oils from two Asteraceae species.” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12967039/. Accessed 28 March 2022.
  8. “Myrcene, an Aromatic Volatile Compound, Ameliorates Human Skin Extrinsic Aging via Regulation of MMPs Production.” PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28659037/. Accessed 28 March 2022.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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