By Gofire Staff
An incredibly comprehensive study of terpenes—the volatile organic compounds that give flowers and trees their distinctive fragrances—gets off to a rather fanciful start: “Forest bathing,” the authors write, “has beneficial effects on human health via showering of forest aerosols as well as physical relaxation.”
For the rest of us, “forest bathing” means taking a walk in the woods. But for Kyoung Sang Cho and his co-authors from Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, that same immersion in nature adds up to a profoundly healthy experience. Here’s the reason: It exposes your nostrils (and the rest of you) to those alluring aerosols, also known by their botanic name, terpenes. In their 2017 study, published in the science journal Toxicological Research, the South Korean co-authors assert that terpenes may have a host of beneficial effects, including reducing inflammation, clearing skin blemishes, soothing asthma, taking the sting out of arthritis and slowing the growth of tumors.
Do we have your attention now?
In a funny way, “attention” is what terpenes are all about. Just as your speaking (or shouting) voice signals your presence to those around you, terpenes serve as a plant’s “voice” in the natural world. That is, the vivid smells of various terpenes are a vital way that plants send signals to the natural world—some intended to repel, others to attract.
On one hand, they may be transmitting the messages “Don’t eat me, I taste bad!” or “I can make you sick!” On the other hand, terpenes may be pumping out the messages “I have delicious fruit!” or “These beautiful flowers are laden with nectar, pay a visit!” Either way, terpenes are a survival mechanism to help keep a plant alive and / or promote genetic diversity.
Myrcene is among the terpene superstars. Its scent is often described as earthy or citrusy, and you can get a noseful from mangoes, bay leaves, thyme, lemongrass and basil. Beer enthusiasts may also inhale it from the foamy head of a double IPA, because myrcene gives hops their intoxicating fragrance.
But myrcene isn’t just about smell. In an exhaustive study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, noted cannabis researcher Ethan Russo catalogs the potential health benefits of exposure to this particular terpene, either by taking a deep sniff or by examining plant-based, myrcene-focused medicines, which are available in tinctures and topicals, as well as in concentrates that are ingested with a vaporization device such as the Gofire Inhaler.
Here are some benefits that Russo attributes to myrcene: It may lessen inflammation and pain (which are, of course, related); have a sedating effect to help poor sleepers; relax muscle cramps (known, in severe cases, as “spasticity”); and even slow the rampant cell division and mutations typical in tumors.
It almost makes you want to book a nice, long forest bath, doesn’t it?