sī′mēn′ | Noun
A common terpene naturally found in over 100 plants, including coriander, oregano, eucalyptus, anise, cilantro, and certain hemp cultivars. Cymene, or p-cymene, exhibits a variety of biological activities. Due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial effects, it serves as an ingredient in topical creams and essential oils.
“Cymene is an aromatic compound found in many herbs used for pain relief.”
“Did you know that cymene is an organic compound found both in hemp and eucalyptus?”
What is it?
It’s a terpene, an aromatic organic compound, present in various herbal essential oils, most commonly cumin and thyme. When extracted, it’s a colorless liquid with a mild citrus scent. Scientists must explore the medicinal value of this terpene in humans. So far, animal studies reveal its antioxidant, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Everyday uses of cymene
This terpene is an ingredient in thyme, cumin, and other essential oils used in aromatherapy. Eucalyptus essential oil is standard in massages and skin products like facial scrubs. As a regular in many plants and plant oils, cymene is most likely present in your kitchen. If you’ve ever used thyme oil to soak meat in its fresh, tangy flavor, or coriander oil for that nutty aroma in your salads and salad dressings, you’ve ingested cymene. Bakers commonly add anise oil into their recipes, which is the oil that contributes to licorice’s taste and potency.
Safe consumption of each of these oils typically requires blending them with a base oil like coconut oil. Aside from being used in food as part of herbal oils, certain foods may contain this terpene as a food additive or flavoring agent. Due to its mild citrus aroma, cymene is used as an ingredient in perfumes.
How does it smell?
Cymene exhibits a mild citrus scent naturally expressed in plants such as basil, blackberry, cinnamon, and hemp.
Therapeutic properties of this terpene
The use of this terpene extends beyond aromatherapy because it could help fight inflammation and provide pain relief. Animal studies show that this terpene displays beneficial effects, but we need more human studies on cymene.
Antibacterial and antimicrobial effects
Like other terpenes, cymene has the ability to inhibit the growth of microbes. Science shows that thyme oil, a common antimicrobial agent in natural cleaners, demonstrates effectiveness against germs. Its antimicrobial effectiveness can be used for food safety but with limitations to using it on fresh produce. In one study, researchers investigated thyme oil (rich in cymene) and found out that this terpene showed antimicrobial activity in a sample of lettuce washed with the oil. Its natural antibiotic properties could be of great value in the battle against antibiotic-resistant infections in the future.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties
One 2013 study found that this terpene acts as an anti-inflammatory agent via several cellular messaging pathways in the body. One German study published in the Journal of Biosciences revealed this terpene’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits in mice. One 2015 study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology suggests that the ability of this terpene to relieve pain in animals comes from the involvement of the body’s natural opioid system. Scientists believe that this and other terpenes act as natural painkillers that can replace more addictive pain treatments.
Neuroprotective and antioxidant effects
Free radicals cause an imbalance in the body, which may play a role in various conditions. The body produces such molecules when it breaks down food or during exposure to tobacco smoke or radiation. Antioxidants protect the cells against free radicals. One 2019 study published in the journal Fitoterapia confirmed the antioxidant properties of this terpene. It also found that it could act as a neuroprotectant because of these effects.
Where to find it in hemp?
Some hemp strains contain this terpene in trace amounts. If you’d like to experience its benefits, you’ll find it in higher concentration in broad spectrum and full spectrum hemp products.
As a common ingredient of herbal essential oils, this terpene possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.