What Are Terpenes?

Let’s begin with a simple definition: Terpenes are fragrant essential oils secreted by cannabis flower. They are found across a variety of plant materials including fruits, spices, and herbs. Cannabis flower uses terpenes as a natural defense from pests and disease, while also attracting pollinators. Notably, they are responsible for the aromas and flavors you find across different strains.

By themselves, terpenes are non-psychoactive. However, they also influence the actual effect of a strain by assisting cannabinoids in absorbing into the blood brain barrier, which binds to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Myrcene is especially important because strains with a large amount of it typically have sedative effects. 

What is Myrcene?

Myrcene is one of the most prevalent terpenes found in cannabis; one study showed that myrcene makes up as much as 65% of the total terpene profile in some strains. The aroma of myrcene is described as musky, earthy, and herbal, often compared to cloves. In reality, it smells a whole lot like the typical smell you would normally associate with weed.

Myrcene is found in many edible forms such as in mango, hops, bay laurel leaves, basil, lemongrass, thyme, and citrus fruit.

The medicinal effect of myrcene is well-documented. Primarily, myrcene has been found to be an analgesic (i.e., pain reliever) and an anti-inflammatory. Click here for a detailed look at the research that’s been done on myrcene.

Myrcene and Cream of the Crop Strains

Nearly all of our Cream of the Crop cannabis strains contain myrcene. In fact, compared to any other terpene, myrcene is the most abundant in our strains, by far. We have found that our strains high in myrcene do indeed have a sedative effect, but other factors need to be considered to accurately predict what to expect from each of them. 

For example, strains high in myrcene and THC, such as Cherry Bomb, appear to have particularly strong "couch lock" effects, as noted by in this landmark scientific publication on cannabis entourage effects. 

Another interesting case is our Prana OG. It has a high amount of myrcene, but it has an even higher amount of alpha-terpinene, which is typically found in strains with sativa-like effects. This suggests that myrcene alone does not necessarily predict the effect of a strain — the role of other terpenes should also be taken into account.

Myrcene Takeaways

  • Because it is so prevalent, myrcene is largely responsible for the earthy, musky smell often found in cannabis flower.

  • There is strong evidence for the pain-killing and anti-inflammatory effects of myrcene.

  • A high amount of myrcene, combined with a high THC percentage, can lead to a strong couch-lock effect.

  • Most notably, myrcene on its own (even in a high amount) does not necessarily mean that the strain will have a sedating effect. On one hand, if no other terpenes are present that have energizing or alerting effects, a high amount of myrcene will probably have a sedative effect, as we have come to expect. However, on the other hand, if other terpenes (alpha-terpinene) are present in a strain, they will influence its overall effect toward a more energizing, lively high.