Ocimene is a monoterpene found in various plants and fruits and bearing a sweet, woodsy scent. Mint, parsley, tarragon, kumquats, and mangos are a few of the natural sources of ocimene. As an acyclic terpene similar to myrcene, ocimene and its chemical variant beta-ocimene are unstable in air and nearly insoluble in water. Ocimene is soluble in some common organic solvents, such as acetone or ethanol.
What is ocimene?
Ocimene is derived from the Ancient Greek word Ocimum meaning basil, though the terpene's profile is not predominantly herbal. However, ocimene does naturally occur in the essential oil of basil. In terms of flavor, some characterize ocimene as citrusy or fruity. Similar to the borneol and guaiol terpenes, ocimene displays a strong, woody aroma. More subtle nuances of lavender or metallic scent may be perceived by others when experiencing the ocimene terpene in cannabis. Whatever the scent, it is not a favorite among insects, as the unique ocimene smell may be present in certain insecticides — a common usage for many terpenes.
What does the terpene ocimene do?
In addition to insecticides, ocimene benefits may present a number of other industrial and practical uses. These may include antiperspirants, fabric softeners, shampoo, soap, and hard-surface cleaners. If you've ever used one of these products touting a woodsy or forest scent, then you may have encountered ocimene. Perfumes featuring woodland or herbal notes may also contain traces of ocimene. The herbal undertones of ocimene will reveal themselves if you're cooking a dish that is sprinkled with pepper or parsley. Even a mint candy, if the ingredients are natural, could be flavored with the terpene. Ocimene may also be present in the orchid flower, a common houseplant known for its nighttime air-purifying qualities when it releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide.
Therapeutic properties of ocimene
Researchers have begun to explore the potential medicinal effects of various terpenes, including the ocimene terpene. This terpene has demonstrated possibilities in having certain antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties, though further research is needed on each.
The Journal of Natural Medicines published a study in 2015 that investigated ocimene as part of a blend of components against yeasts and molds. The researchers determined that ocimene, in concert with other elements, may be useful as an antifungal agent. Specifically, the researchers cited fungal species in humans, including dermatophytosis, a skin fungus commonly referred to as ringworm.
The ocimene terpene was studied as an element of Oenanthe crocata essential oil in a study published in 2013 in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal. Researchers noted strong anti-inflammatory activity, as well as antioxidant and antifungal properties, from the oil containing ocimene. Similar to the study from the Journal of Natural Medicines, this study revealed a possible combative effect against ringworm, and researchers recommended the oil for the management of other inflammatory diseases.
The essential oils of seven Lebanese species of trees were studied and analyzed in a 2008 Chemistry & Biodiversity report. Ocimene was among the main constituents of the oils which were examined in vitro for their inhibitory effect against SARS-CoV, a coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, and the herpes simplex virus. Laurus nobilis oil, which contains ocimene, demonstrated an antiviral effect against SARS-CoV in the study, but research beyond the in vitro stage would be useful to determine the full scope of ocimene's potential antiviral activity.
What terpene makes you cough?
Some users have found that cannabis strains with high levels of ocimene may induce a cough, which could link to a decongestant property.
Role of ocimene in cannabis
These cannabis strains may contain higher than average concentrations of the ocimene terpene:
- Strawberry Cough
- Golden Goat
- Space Queen
- Sour Diesel
Early research shows this woody and herbal terpene could potentially provide numerous health benefits, including decongestion, perhaps via cannabis or essential oils. Still, much more research is needed before coming to any conclusions.
Major contributions from Dr. Adie Rae.