In an article published yesterday on Alternet with the title “Growing Numbers of Pot Smokers Eat Mango Before Lighting Up,” Clarissa A. León reports about a new trend, if that’s the right word, or perhaps “a growing awareness” is a better way of putting it, among cannabis users that the myrcene molecules found in a mango can “boost” the high, both prolonging and intensifying pot’s euphoric effects.
Myrcene is responsible for the aromas of apricots, walnuts and Valencia oranges and is widely used in the perfume industry. It gets its name from the plant mercia and is also found in lemongrass, verbena, hops and the West Indian bay tree used to make bay rum. Its aroma is much like cannabis as it can be woodsy, citrusy and fruity.
But one of its lesser-known qualities is that the myrcene allows THC to pass through the blood brain barrier much faster. On average, it takes THC seven seconds to reach the brain after inhaling. But if you eat a mango — or a mango smoothie — 90 minutes before smoking, you could potentially halve that time.
I had heard about this for a few years, but never really took it that seriously, thinking it seemed like a stoner superstition. Before running out to the grocery store to buy a few hundred pounds of mangos for my all mango diet, I decided to ask Michael Backes, author of the forthcoming book, Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana, “Is this mango shit true?”
Yes, is the short answer. Here’s what he told me:
Mango contains myrcene, an essential oil that is part of a class of compounds called terpenes. Terpenes are responsible for the strong smell of cannabis and some of its effects. Different varieties of cannabis (and mangoes) produce more myrcene varieties than others. Myrcene is definitely synergistic with THC, the primary psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
Myrcene is believed to be responsible for sedative “couch lock” effect of wide-leafleted “indica” varieties of high-THC cannabis. Dried flowers of these indicas can contain nearly 2 percent myrcene. It is incorrect to state that myrcene is linked to the euphoric psychoactivity of cannabis, as myrcene is more responsible for the “stone,” rather than euphoria.
The bad news is that orally administered myrcene is not likely to reach your bloodstream, since it’s not easy for it to be absorbed through the gut and survive liver metabolism. Plants evolved terpenes like myrcene, in part to discourage grazing animals and attract some insects and repel others. We evolved the ability not be poisoned by these terpenes, by limiting their ability to be metabolized.
But there’s a way around this. It’s kind of ridiculous, but myrcene can be absorbed by the mucus membranes, meaning that if you wanted to hold a puree of mango under your tongue, or in your cheek like Skoal, this will work and from what I understand, it’ll work pretty well.
Still if the notion of carrying around a mouthful of messy mango mush puts you off too much, there are other ways to skin this cat, such as a strong lemonade with lots of black pepper in it, as is often served in Morocco with cannabis. The key is to use a lot of rind, which contains the limonene, which is also a terpene. Black pepper is very high in beta-caryophyllene, which is also synergistic with THC and is actually a cannabinoid. Alternately, you can chew on a bunch of fresh lemongrass (easier than holding a mouthful of mango puree, right?) or make a tincture of that.
Before anyone decides to do this at home, keep in mind that eating a mango can cause some people’s mouths to swell, so who knows what some mango puree snus is gonna do for you in the allergies department…