Myrcene, specifically β-myrcene, is a monoterpene most commonly produced by cannabis (some varieties contain up to 60% of the essential oil). Its aroma is musky, earthy, and herbal – akin to cloves. A high myrcene level in cannabis (usually above 0.5%) results in the well-known “couch-lock” effect of classic Indica strains. Myrcene is found in oil of hops, citrus fruits, bay leaves, eucalyptus, wild thyme, lemon grass, and many other plants.
Myrcene has some very special medicinal properties, including but not limited to, lowering resistance across the blood-to-brain barrier, which allows itself and many other chemicals to move through that barrier quickly and with a great deal of ease. When thinking of this in relation to cannabinoids (like THC), myrcene helps the effects of the cannabinoid to take effect more quickly. Even more interesting is the fact that myrcene increases the maximum saturation level of the CB1 receptor, allowing for a greater maximum psychoactive effect.
Myrcene is a potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-mutagenic. It blocks the action of cytochrome, aflatoxin B, and other pro-mutagenic carcinogens. The Bonamin et al study focused on the role of β-myrcene in preventing peptic ulcer disease. The study revealed that β-myrcene acts as an inhibitor of gastric and duodenal ulcers, suggesting it may be helpful in preventing peptic ulcer disease. In addition to this, its sedative and relaxing effects also make it ideal for the treatment of insomnia and pain.
Since myrcene is normally found in the essential oils present in citrus fruits, many claim eating a fresh mango about 45 minutes before consuming cannabis will result in the faster onset of psycho activity and greater intensity. If you are going to take advantage of this scientifically observed benefit, be sure to choose a mango that is ripe, otherwise the myrcene level will be too low to make a difference.
Pinene is a bicyclic monoterpenoid. As its name suggests, pinene has distinctive aromas of pine and fir. There are two structural pinene isomers found in nature: α-pinene, the most widely encountered terpenoid in nature, and β-pinene. Both forms are important components of pine resin.Pinene is found in many other conifers, as well as in non-coniferous plants. It is found mostly in balsamic resin, pine woods, and some citrus fruits. These two isomers present in pinene constitute the main component of wood turpentine. Pinene is one of the principal and most important monoterpenes present physiologically in both plants and animals. It tends to react with other chemicals, forming a variety of additional terpenes (like limonene), as well as numerous other naturally occurring compounds.Pinene is used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator, and local antiseptic. α-pinene is a natural compound isolated from pine needle oil which has demonstrated specific anti-cancer activity and has often been used as an anti-cancer agent in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It is also believed that the effects of THC may be lessened if mixed with pinene.
Limonene is a monocyclic monoterpenoid and one of two major compounds formed from pinene. As the name suggests, varieties high in limonene have strong aromas of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes. Strains high in limonene promote a general uplift in mood and attitude. This citrus smelling terpene is the major constituent in citrus fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, and peppermint, as well as in several pine needle oils.Limonene is highly absorbed by inhalation and quickly appears in the bloodstream. It assists in the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and other body tissue. It is well documented that limonene suppresses the growth of many species of fungi and bacteria, making it an ideal antifungal agent for ailments such as toenail fungus.Limonene may be beneficial in protecting against various cancers, and orally administered limonene is currently undergoing clinical trials in the treatment of breast cancer. In addition to its cancer fighting properties, limonene has been found to help promote weight-loss, among other things.Plants use limonene as a natural insecticide to ward off predators. Until only a few decades ago, limonene was primarily used in food and perfumes. More recently, it has become better recognized as the main active ingredient in citrus cleaners, due to its astringent properties as well as its very low toxicity, meaning that adverse effects rarely occur.
Beta-caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene found in many plants such as Thai basils, cloves, cinnamon leaves, black pepper, and, in minor quantities, in lavender. Its aroma has been described as peppery, woody and/or spicy, and it is often used in chewing gum when combined with other spicy or citrus flavors.Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system (CB2). Research shows shows that β–caryophyllene selectively binds to the CB2 receptor and that it is a functional CB2 agonist. Furthermore, β–caryophyllene was identified as a functional non-psychoactive CB2 receptor ligand in foodstuff and as a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid in cannabis, making it another frontrunner in the treatment of cancer.The Fine/Rosenfeld pain study demonstrates that other combinations of phytocannabinoids, especially cannabidiol (CBD) and β-caryophyllene, when administered orally, appear to be promising candidates for the treatment of chronic pain, as they produce little or no adverse effects and appear to be extremely safe to use.The Horváth et al study suggests β-caryophyllene, through a CB2 receptor dependent pathway, may be an excellent therapeutic agent to prevent nephrotoxicity (poisonous effect on the kidneys) caused by anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin.The Jeena, Liju et al study investigated the chemical composition of essential oils isolated in black pepper, of which caryophyllene is a main constituent, and studied its pharmacological properties. Black pepper oil was found to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-nociceptive properties. This suggests that high-caryophyllene strains may be useful in treating a number of medical issues such as arthritis and neuropathy pain.
Linalool is a non-cyclic monoterpenoid and has been described as having floral and lavender undertones. Varieties high in linalool promote calming, relaxing effects.Linalool lessens the anxious emotions provoked by pure THC, thus making it helpful in the treatment of both psychosis and anxiety. Because it contains these calming properties, it has also been used for centuries as a sleep aid. Studies also suggest that linalool boosts the immune system, significantly reduces lung inflammation, and restores cognitive and emotional function, making it extremely useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease).As shown by the Ma, J., Xu et al study, linalool may significantly reduce lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke by blocking the carcinogenesis induced by benz[α]anthracene, a component of the tar generated by the combustion of tobacco. This finding also indicates limonene may be helpful in reducing the harm caused by inhaling cannabis smoke.Linalool boosts the immune system because it directly activates immune cells through specific receptors and/or pathways. The Sabogal-Guáqueta et al studysuggests linalool may reverse the histopathological (the microscopic examination of biological tissues to observe the appearance of diseased cells and tissues in very fine detail) hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease and could aid in the restoration of cognitive and emotional functions via its anti-inflammatory properties.The Environmental Protection Agency has approved its use as a pesticide, flavor agent, and scent. It acts as a legitimate and effective pesticide because its vapors have been shown to be an effective insecticide against fruit flies, fleas, and cockroaches. It is also used in a wide variety of bath and body products and is commonly included on the ingredients lists for these products with names such as beta linalool, linalyl alcohol, linaloyl oxide, p-linalool, and alloocimenol.Linalool has been isolated in several hundred different plants. The Lamiaceae plant and herb family, which includes mints and other scented herbs, are common sources. The Lauraceae plant family, which includes laurels, cinnamon, and rosewood, is also a readily available source. The Rutaceae family, which contains citrus plants, is another viable source. Birch trees, as well as several different plant species that are found in tropical and boreal climate zones also produce linalool. Although technically not plants, some fungi produce linalool, as well. Linalool is a critical precursor in the formation of Vitamin E.
Terpinolene is a common component of sage and rosemary and is found in the oil derived from Monterey Cypress. Its largest use in the United States is in soaps and perfumes. It is also a great insect repellent. Terpinolene is known to have a piney aroma with slight herbal and floral nuances. It tends to have a sweet flavor reminiscent of citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons.Terpinolene has been found to be a central nervous system depressant used to induce drowsiness or sleep, or to reduce psychological excitement or anxiety. Furthermore, terpinolene was found to markedly reduce the protein expression of AKT1 in K562 cells and inhibited cell proliferation involved in a variety of human cancers.
Camphene, a plant-derived monoterpene, emits pungent odors of damp woodlands and fir needles. Studies show that camphene may play a critical role in cardiovascular disease.The Vallianou et al study found camphene reduces plasma cholesterol and triglycerides in hyperlipidemic rats. Given the importance that the control of hyperlipidemia plays in heart disease, the results of this study provide insight into to how camphene might be used as an alternative to pharmaceutical lipid lowering agents which are proven to cause intestinal problems, liver damage, and muscle inflammation. This finding alone is extremely important and, therefore, warrants further investigation.Camphene is a minor component of many essential oils such as turpentine, camphor oil, citronella oil, and ginger oil. It is used as a food additive for flavoring, and is also used in the preparation of fragrances. It is produced industrially by catalytic isomerization of the more common α-pinene.
α-Terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, and 4-terpineol are three closely related monoterpenoids. The aroma of terpineol can be compared to lilacs and flower blossoms. Terpineol is often found in cannabis varieties that have high pinene levels, which unfortunately mask the fragrant aromas of terpineol.Terpineol, specifically α-terpineol, is known to have calming and relaxing effects. It also exhibits antibiotic, AChe inhibitor and antioxidant antimalarial properties.
Phellandrene is described as having peppermint aromas, with a slight citurs undertone. Phellandrene is believed to have special medicinal values and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat digestive disorders for centuries. It is also one of the main compounds in turmeric leaf oil, which is used to prevent and treat systemic fungal infections.Phellandrene is perhaps the easiest terpene to identify in the lab. When a solution of phellandrene in a solvent (or an oil containing phellandrene) is treated with a concentrated solution of sodium nitrate and then a few drops of glacial acetic acid are added, very large crystals of phellandrene nitrate quickly and visibly form.Phellandrene was first discovered in eucalyptus oil. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that it was actually thought and, subsequently proven that phellandrene from eucalyptus oil contained two isomeric phellandrenes (usually referred to as α-phellandrene and β-phellandrene), and when oxidized with potassium permanganate, gave distinct acids which proved that the acids had been derived from two different isomeric phellandrenes. Prior to this discovery, phellandrene was often mistaken for pinene or limonene. Today, we are aware of the presence of plellandrene in many essential oils. It is, however, a somewhat uncertain terpene, as it can only be detected in the oils of some species, especially in Eucalypts, at particular times of the year.Phellandrene can be found in a number of herbs and spices, including cinnamon, garlic, dill, ginger, and parsley.A number of plants produce β-phellandrene as a component in their essential oils, including lavender and grand fir. The recognizable odors of some essential oils depend almost entirely upon the presence of phellandrene, for example, oil of pepper, oil of ginger, and dill oil, which are composed almost entirely of phellandrene. Phellandrene, particularly α-phellandrene, is absorbed through the skin, making it attractive for use in perfumes. It is also used as a flavoring for food products.
Delta-3-carene is a bicyclic monoterpene with a sweet, pungent odor. It is found naturally in many healthy, beneficial essential oils, including cypress oil, juniper berry oil, and fir needle essential oils. It is a main component in turpentine and is used as a flavoring in many food products. Delta-3-carene is also naturally present in pine extract, bell pepper, basil oil, grapefruit and orange juices, and citrus peel oils from fruits like lemons, limes, mandarins, tangerines, oranges, and kumquats.In higher concentrations, delta-3-carene can be a central nervous system depressant. It is also used to dry out excess body fluids, such as tears, mucus, and sweat.Carene is nontoxic, but may cause irritation when inhaled, perhaps due to high concentrations of delta-3-carene in some strains. Side effects may be coughing, itchy throat, and eye afflictions, which may occur when smoking cannabis.
Humulene is a sesquiterpene also known as α-humulene and α–caryophyllene; an isomer of β–caryophyllene. Humulene is found in hops, cannabis sativa strains, and Vietnamese coriander, among other naturally occurring substances. Humulene is what gives beer its distinct ‘hoppy’ aroma.Humulene is considered to be anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic (suppresses appetite). It has commonly been blended with β–caryophyllene and used as a major remedy for inflammation. Humulene has been used for generations in Chinese medicine. It aids in weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant.
Pulegone, a monocyclic monoterpenoid, is a minor component of cannabis. Higher concentrations of pulegone are found in rosemary, which breaks down acetylcholine in the brain, allowing nerve cells to communicate more effectively with one another.An ethnopharmacology study indicates pulegone may have significant sedative and fever-reducing properties. It may also alleviate the side effects of short-term memory loss sometimes associated with higher levels of THC.Pulegone has a pleasant peppermint aroma and is also considered to be a strong insecticide.
Sabinene is a bicyclic monoterpene whose aromas are compared to pines, oranges, and other spices which, when combined ,are often associated with the holidays. Results of an ongoing study by Valente et al suggest that sabinene should be explored further as a natural source of new antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs for the development of food supplements, nutraceuticals, or plant-based medicines.Sabinene occurs in many plants, including Norway spruce, black pepper, basil, and Myristica fragrans, an evergreen indigenous to the Moluccas, which are the Spice Islands of Indonesia. The seeds of the Myristica fragrans are the world’s main source of nutmeg. Sabinene exists as (+)- and (–)-enantiomers.
Geraniol produces a sweet, delightful smell similar to roses, which makes geraniol a popular choice for many bath and body products. It is also known to be an effective mosquito repellant. Medically, geraniol shows promise in the treatment of neuropathy.