By: Ziburkus Jokubas, Founder of Canntelligence (Cannabinoid Intelligence)
Our series “Tales of Terpenes” in the Grow Doctor section of the Grow magazine continues. July-August issue features myrcene. Enjoy!
Dr. Jokūbas Žiburkus, PhD and Louis Adam for CANNTELLIGENCE
Fruity smells in the cannabis garden
Close your eyes and open the secret door to a brightly lit garden, where your senses adapt to the ambient light penetrating through your closed eye lids and the noise coming from the fans. Now as you inhale the air slowly, odor molecules enter your nostrils and penetrate your brain, causing an image of a fruit to emerge. It smells sweet, citrusy, and complex and is intertwined with the other odor molecules. The complex aromas emanating from cannabis flowers make you think and perhaps instantly affect your mood. Inhale….exhale…keep smelling… a minute or so later different scents can be visualized. Woodsier, piney smells emerge and linger longer in our nostrils.
The smell filling your nostrils comes from terpenes, a vital component of cannabis essential oils. Terpenes are only one of the various chemicals inside cannabis. Do not be fooled and believe that terpenes are benign chemicals that only exist to give plants their tastes and smells. Terpenes are one of the largest groups of naturally occurring chemicals, and can be made/used by almost all forms of life (plants, protists, bacteria, and animals). Each terpene is unique and can differ widely from another in its chemical structure, smell, therapeutic effect, toxicity, and potency (1,2). One of the few things that these nearly ubiquitous chemicals have in common is that they are made from the same building blocks DMAPP (dimethylallyl pyrophosphate) and IPP (isopentenyl pyrophosphate).
Terpenes common to cannabis
Terpenes are widespread in nature and have different functions and cause different biological effects. Terpenes are classified in order of increasing size: hemiterpenes, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, sesterpenes, triterpenes, and tetraterpenes. The smaller terpenes have fewer carbon molecules and tend to make up more of the yield of most cannabis plants (92% yield compared to 7% large terpenes) (3). Smaller chemicals are not as heavy as the larger ones so they are more volatile and can easily drift through the air, reaching one’s nostrils. As a result, small terpenes can be lost during the drying and extraction of cannabis flower. Furthermore, terpene structure alone is not sufficient to predict its smell or biological function. Even structurally similar chemicals can have distinct smells or even an opposite biological effect.
Of Cannabis and Mango
A segment of cannabis lovers are reported to be fond of mangoes. Some cannabis strains have names inspired by mango, such as Mango Kush, Mango Haze, and Mango Tango. An urban myth event exists that claims eating mango before ingesting cannabis with THC, can get the user higher than otherwise possible and cause a ‘couch-lock effect”. Surprisingly, evidence exists to at least partially support this.
Mango and cannabis both contain a monoterpene called β-myrcene (mur-scene). Myrcene can also be found in lemongrass, hops, and bay leaves. It is said to have a musky, earthy smell and taste, like cloves. This monoterpene is a common component of popular essential oils and is used as an ingredient in shampoo, soap, and detergents.
We searched the Analytical 360 laboratories test results and found that the cannabis flower of strains such as Gas Mask/Animal Cookies, Tri Daddy Green, Sapphire Scout, & Jeffry Stonehill contained considerably high levels of myrcene (~1% in total weight of the flower). Surprisingly, some strains with mango inspired names, like Mango Haze, did not have substantial amounts of myrcene. Thus, this highlights the importance of knowing the actual cannabinoid and terpene concentrations, rather than assuming that cannabis strains named after mango will actually contain myrcene.
How does myrcene work?
Myrcene has an impressive amount of useful therapeutic effects (2,4). For example, it has been shown to protect stomach and duodenal mucosal tissue (duodenal), which is a valuable tool in treating patients with stomach ulcers caused by stress, smoking cigarettes, long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and bacterial infections. If untreated stomach ulcers can result in internal bleeding, severe blood loss, bloody stools and vomit, and can require hospitalization and a blood transfusion. Myrcene treats the irritation by stimulating antioxidant mechanisms that stop the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that damage the DNA and proteins of cells, a type of damage known as oxidative stress. Oral administration of myrcene in (7.5 mg/kg) experimental models showed anti-ulcer activity with significantly decreased gastric and duodenal lesions and increased gastric mucus production, which protects the mucosal tissue (5). ….
FULL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND IN GROW MAGAZINE July-August issue and soon on www.canntelligence.com
1. Cho KS, Lim YR, Lee K, Lee J, Lee JH, Lee IS. Terpenes from Forests and Human Health. Toxicol Res 2017;33(2):97-106.
2. Behr A, Johnen L. Myrcene as a natural base chemical in sustainable chemistry: a critical review. ChemSusChem 2009;2(12):1072-1095.
3. Brenneisen R. Chemistry and analysis of phytocannabinoids and other Cannabis constituents. Marijuana and the Cannabinoids: Springer; 2007. pp 17-49.
4. Rufino AT, Ribeiro M, Sousa C, Judas F, Salgueiro L, Cavaleiro C, Mendes AF. Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic effects of E-caryophyllene, myrcene and limonene in a cell model of osteoarthritis. European journal of pharmacology 2015;750:141-150.
5. Bonamin F, Moraes TM, Dos Santos RC, Kushima H, Faria FM, Silva MA, Junior IV, Nogueira L, Bauab TM, Brito ARS. The effect of a minor constituent of essential oil from Citrus aurantium: the role of β-myrcene in preventing peptic ulcer disease. Chemico-biological interactions 2014;212:11-19.
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