Terpenes (general)

The Monoterpene Ocimene: Characteristics, Sources, and Benefits

Written by Derek Johnson

Ocimene is one of the numerous monoterpenes found throughout the plant kingdom. It offers various therapeutic benefits and is abundant in many common plants, including cannabis, making it a great candidate for extraction.


Characteristics of Ocimene

Ocimene is an isomeric hydrocarbon as well as a monoterpene. When exposed to air, it becomes extremely volatile, which helps explain its highly aromatic characteristics. Ocimene occurs as three different isomers: α-ocimene, cis-β-ocimene, and trans-β-ocimene.

Ocimene is highly valued for its aromatic profile. It contributes to the strong and pleasant aromas of many fruits, herbs, and spices, including tarragon, pepper, basil, mango, mint, and parsley. The odor has been described as herbaceous, citrusy, tropical, and woody. [1]

Ocimene is also present in cannabis. One popular dispensary cites cultivars Jack Herer and Mandarin Dream. Another adds Sour Diesel, Clementine, and Snowcone to the list. It is also a key terpene in the medical cultivar Bedrocan. [2]


Medicinal Properties of Ocimene

Ocimene is associated with anti-fungal, anticonvulsant, and anti-tumor activities. [2] It has also been reported to play an important role as a pheromone for the social regulation of honeybees. [2]

One study focused on essential oil from the Angelica plant, which contains principally α-pinene and cis-β-ocimene. [3] The oil and the two isolated terpenes proved effective against Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, and dermatophytes (skin fungus). [3]

Another study showed that ocimene working in an entourage with α- and β-pinene from black pepper has demonstrable antioxidative and enzyme-inhibiting properties and may help treat or prevent both hypertension and type-2 diabetes. [4]

Ocimene is anecdotally believed to work well as a decongestant and expectorant. Ocimene, as with other terpenes, may interact in unique ways when taken with other terpenes and phytochemicals from the same plant.

With cannabis now available for research purposes and advancements in laboratory technology, we can expect to see more evidence of the health benefits of ocimene.


Image Source: Eva Elijas, Pexels



1- Zviely M. Ocimene – A versatile floral ingredient. Perfum Flavorist. 2013;38:42.

2- Russo EB, Marcu J. Cannabis pharmacology: The usual suspects and a few promising leads. Advances in Pharmacology. 2017:67–134.doi:10.1016/bs.apha.2017.03.004. [Times Cited: 104 (Semantic Scholar)]

3- Cavaleiro C, et al.Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Angelica majoragainst CandidaCryptococcusAspergillus and dermatophyte species. J Nat Med. 2015;69:241–248. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11418-014-0884-2. [Impact Factor: 53.44; Times Cited: 30 (Semantic Scholar)]

4- Oboh G, et al. Antioxidative properties and inhibition of key enzymes relevant to type-2 diabetes and hypertension by essential oils from black pepper. Advances in Pharmacological Sciences. 2013(4). [Impact Factor: 3.337; Times Cited: 36 (Semantic Scholar)]

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Derek Johnson

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