Everything you need to know about the Terpene Ocimene:
The Ultimate Guide.
What is Ocimene, What are the Benefits of Ocimene. Effects, Research, Science & More:
We take you through the benefits, options, important criteria you should consider when looking at products containing the terpene Ocimene.
Introduction into the Terpene Ocimene
Getting To Know The Terpene Ocimene; It’s a smell that’s sweet, herby, floral, and a bit citrusy: ocimene has a distinct scent that makes this terpene stand out.
Unlike some of the other terpenes we’ve looked at in this series, ocimene is not one of the most common compounds found in hemp and cannabis. Instead, it takes a back seat to more common ‘terps’ like limonene and caryophyllene. Even so, it’s an essential contributor to the smells of some of our favorite strains.
We don’t know that much about this terpene yet. Still, it seems like ocimene likely plays a crucial role in ‘plant communication,’ allowing plants to respond proactively to other organisms like pathogens and animals.
Of course, like so many defense mechanisms found in nature, humans find the scent of ocimene appealing rather than repulsive. As a result, this terpene is an ingredient in many perfumes, where its herby and floral scent add complex notes.
Below, we’ll introduce you to this terpene and then offer a few strains to seek out if you’re interested in experiencing its effects firsthand.
The herby, sweet, and floral smell of ocimene makes it a favorite ingredient in perfumery. So you’ve probably smelled it without realizing it.
What is the terpene Ocimene, and where is it found in nature?
Ocimene is a terpene, a commonplace natural scented compound, found in some fruits and plants other than hemp and cannabis. Some examples of plants with ocimene include mint, parsley, tea, and orchids.
In scientific terms, ocimene is actually a group of closely related monoterpenes. These include alpha-ocimene and two beta-forms. Most plants contain multiple forms mixed together. The herby, sweet, and floral smell of ocimene makes it a favorite ingredient in perfumery. So you’ve probably smelled it without realizing it.
Terpenes play numerous roles in the plants that make them. Very commonly, they seem to help plants respond to threats, such as predators that would eat them or diseases that threaten their health. For example, in a 2017 study for Plant Science, researchers simulated the damage an herbivore might cause to some tea plants by damaging the leaves and treating them with a mild acid. In response, the tea leaves produced the terpenes ocimene and alpha-farnesene (source) — including undamaged, neighboring leaves!
Scientists think terpenes play a key role in the “entourage effect.” In brief, the entourage effect is the idea that all the compounds hemp or cannabis are more effective working together in harmony rather than isolated into their individual parts.
All of this is why so many consumers report better effects from full-spectrum hemp supplements, versus those made with just CBD isolate. While the additional cannabinoids like THC, CBG and CBN play a role, so do the terpenes.
For example, researchers think Ocimene, a terpene in hemp flower, may contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects.
A 2014 study in Natural Product Communications examined the anti-inflammatory potential of Citrus unshiu flower essential oil, which includes the terpene Ocimene.
What are some possible benefits of ocimene?
In addition to regulating responses to herbivores, ocimene may act as a natural pesticide and antifungal. For example, a 2015 study in the Journal of Plant Physiology studied how tobacco plants release ocimene (source) as a form of defense against aphids. Cannabis, which is known for being highly pest-resistant, may have evolved ocimene and some of its other terpenes for similar reasons.
Scientists are only just beginning to investigate its possible benefits for humans and other mammals. Most of the studies we found look at ocimene as a component of essential oils rather than in isolation. For example, a 2013 study in Advances in Pharmacological Studies examined ocimene as a component of the essential oil of black pepper seeds. This essential oil seemed to inhibit essential enzymes related to type-2 diabetes and hypertension. (source)
Ocimene is also a component in some citrus flower essential oils. A 2014 study in Natural Product Communications examined the anti-inflammatory potential of Citrus unshiu flower essential oil, which includes this terpene. Researchers found the oil inhibited several key inflammatory factors. The researchers concluded that the oil “may be considered a potential anti-inflammatory candidate with human health benefits.” (source)
Clearly, more research is needed, especially human-based trials, before we can say whether ocimene has notable benefits for humans.
Which hemp and cannabis strains contain ocimene?
In general, hemp or cannabis strains that are fruity and a bit perfumey smelling might be higher in ocimene. You’ll need to check the third-party lab results to be sure. This should be considered a “supporting” terpene. It will rarely if ever, be the top terpene in any strain.
If you’d like to try ocimene in a CBD-rich hemp flower strain, we recommend Bubba Kush CBD. Customers report this strain is a “big hitter” for full-body relief and relaxation. White Dragon CBG, a hemp flower strain emphasizing cannabigerol, also prominently features this terpene. That strain has a complex, hoppy scent with notable floral and sweet undertones. Customers love using White Dragon to promote relaxation and better sleep.
According to online databases of cannabis strains, you’ll find ocimene in Clementine, Green Crack, Amnesia, and Dutch Treat, among others.
We still have a lot to learn about how this particular terpene contributes to the effects of a specific strain. Its contribution to the floral, fruity smell of certain strains is undeniable, though. Like almost all compounds found in hemp and cannabis, ocimene likely contributes to the “entourage effect,” when the various natural chemicals in the plant work together to enhance each other.
Researchers concluded that the ocimene oil “may be considered a potential anti-inflammatory candidate with human health benefits.”
Get to know our favorite ‘terps’
Thanks to the years of prohibition and the stigma that grew up around hemp and cannabis, we’re only just beginning to learn about how compounds like terpenes work and could help us.
Writer: Kit O’Connell is a writer and journalist from Austin, Texas. His work has also appeared in Yes! Magazine, the Texas Observer, and elsewhere. He served as Editor in Chief of the Ministry of Hemp from 2017 until 2021.