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Ocimene Terpene: How Much Does it Contribute

Posted by Daniel Gordon on

Aromatic compounds known as terpenes dictate how individual cannabis strains smell and taste. They also exert influence on a strain’s effects, including its therapeutic properties. In this article, we train our spotlight on the relatively obscure ocimene terpene. Keep reading to learn what it is, where it’s found, and how it helps to shape your cannabis experience.

What is ocimene?

Ocimene is one of the hundreds of terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Like other terpenes, it has a pungent but nuanced fragrance that can be detected in many strains of marijuana. Ocimene is among the most widespread monoterpenes in nature. Apart from cannabis, it’s abundant in:

  • Basil
  • Hops
  • Pepper
  • Mangoes
  • Parsley
  • Bergamot
  • Kumquats
  • Orchids

The ocimene terpene’s benefits are numerous. In one of its forms—namely E-β-ocimene—it plays a crucial role in honeybee colonies by compelling nest workers to begin foraging at a younger age. In doing so it helps to maintain social stability within the colony.

We’ll take a closer look at ocimene’s effects and benefits in a later section. First, a word about how ocimene smells.

What does ocimene smell like?

Ocimene’s aroma is characterized by a floral sweetness with notes of citrus, zest and woodiness. As a result, it is commonly used in commercial fragrances like perfumes and air fresheners. You have almost certainly smelled ocimene without realizing it.

Unlike myrcene, linalool and other heavyweight terpenes, ocimene is not going to dominate any one strain’s terpene profile. Its aromatic contributions are often on the subtle side. Nonetheless, experienced cannabis users with sharp noses will definitely be able to pick it up.

Benefits of ocimene

Terpenes, including ocimene, are good for more than imparting scents and tastes. In nature, they protect plants by repelling predatory insects. On the other hand, certain terpenes also have the effect of attracting pollinators. As noted above, honeybee colonies depend on a form of ocimene for homeostasis.

With regard to cannabis, terpenes are an essential component of the entourage effect. The known health benefits of cannabis are the result of a sophisticated interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes. In the absence of terpenes, the desired effects of THC and CBD are diminished. That’s why a lot of folks buy terpenes and add them to their cannabis concentrate.

On top of that, a growing body of scientific research indicates that terpenes deliver a range of therapeutic effects all on their own.

As for ocimene’s specific benefits, it has been identified as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fungal, and anti-viral agent. Let’s look at each of these properties in turn.

Ocimene Terpene Scientific Research

Anti-inflammatory

2020 study in Pharmaceutical Sciences Asia examined the effects of 11 Thai essential oils on inflammation. Of the 11, lesser galangal oil was found to have the most significant anti-inflammatory properties.

The main compound of lesser galangal is—you guessed it—ocimene. The study’s authors proceeded to test ocimene’s anti-inflammatory activity and found that it “effectively inhibited COX-2 activity.” COX-2 is an enzyme that causes inflammation and pain.

They concluded that “essential oil of lesser galangal and its major compound [ocimene] could be potentially developed as anti-inflammatory agents.”

Antioxidant

The ocimene terpene has antioxidant properties, according to a 2014 article published in Food Science & Nutrition. In this study, researchers assessed whether the essential oil of tagetes minuta—which includes ocimene in four different forms—is an effective antioxidant.

Tagetes minuta oil was found to be a natural antioxidant that can potentially help protect food from oxidative damage. The authors further suggested that it could eventually be used in the development of anti-tumor drugs. 

Antifungal

Several studies have evaluated ocimene for its anti-fungal properties. One of them, published in 2015, found that cis-β-ocimene may be effective in treating fungal diseases like ringworm and C. neoformans.

A study published two years earlier likewise found that trans-β-ocimene and cis-β-ocimene have notable anti-fungal properties, particularly against ringworm and C. neoformans.

Antiviral

Ocimene was found in a 2008 study to exhibit what the authors called “interesting” antiviral activity against SARS-CoV. Short for severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS is an airborne coronavirus that emerged in China in 2002. It causes fever, headache, dry cough, and pneumonia, among other symptoms.

Ways to consume ocimene

There are two primary ways to avail yourself of the benefits of ocimene. One is to get your hands on an essential oil that has ocimene as a major constituent. The other is to find a cannabis strain high in ocimene.

Essential oils containing ocimene

Ocimene is found in countless plants and fruits (and therefore in countless essential oils), but it’s not always present in high concentrations. If you’re looking for an essential oil containing ocimene, try basil, lesser galangal, tagetes minuta, or bergamot.

They can be utilized in several ways, but your best bet is aromatherapy and diffusing essential oils (for that, you’ll need an essential oil diffuser).

Ocimene Essential Oil Diffuser

Cannabis strains containing ocimene

Would you rather ingest ocimene via weed? Consider one of the following strains. Each contains a respectable quantity of ocimene.

Sour diesel: at 19% THC, this strain’s effects hit you hard and fast. Skunk and citrus are the dominant aromatic notes.

Green Crack: a powerful sativa known for its heady, vitalizing high and tropical fruit aroma.

Strawberry Cough: another robust sativa that delivers energizing effects and euphoria accompanied by a sweet strawberry fragrance, hence the name ‘Strawberry Cough’.

Mimosa: this sativa-dominant hybrid is a cross between Clementine and Purple Punch. Its aroma is fruity and sweet with a hint of spice.

What does ocimene feel like when consumed in marijuana?

So what kind of effects can you expect from cannabis strains high in ocimene? The short answer is: it depends on the strain. Many high-ocimene strains happen to be sativas. So in that very limited sense, ocimene is associated with highs that are cerebral and invigorating rather than soothing and sedative.

On a more relevant note, strains containing a lot of ocimene tend to be marked by sweet, fruity aromas and flavors, oftentimes complemented by a tinge of zest or spice. It’s here, on the palate, that the ocimene terpene makes its presence known.

In terms of ocimene’s health benefits, research into this question is ongoing, but the early results are promising to say the least.

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