The Summer is Upon Us

Mmm, myrcene!

Terpenes, terpenes everywhere! Even in our drinks!

Now that June has arrived the summer solstice is but a few weeks away. The heat of the summer often creates the desire to quench one’s thirst with an ice cold IPA. This particular beer owes its distinct flavor to large amounts of the terpene, myrcene, which is found in hops. Terpenes are formed via the mevalonate pathway from isoprene monomers.

Terpenes exist as monoterpenes (C10), sesquiterpenes (C15),diterpenes (C20) and triterpenes (C30). The monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and diterpenes are volatile and we commonly associate them with the fragrance of fruits and flowers. Terpenes are very active physiologically and will bind the TRP family of ion channels.

The terpene, menthol, binds TRPM8, a noxious cold thermal receptor and produces the cooling sensation associated with sucking on a mint. The monoterpene, myrcene, binds TRPV1 which is the same channel that binds CBD. Myrcene does not bind at the same site on the channel as CBD but does decrease the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD.

Terpenes also can activate the cannabinoid receptor system directly. For example, the sesquiterpene, caryophyllene, is an agonist for the CB2 receptor and is thought to moderate cytokine production initiated by this receptor. So, when you imbibe, keep in mind the taste is more than good.

Dr. Randal Stahl – Science Consultant