What Is Cymene?


Table of contents

  1. What Is Cymene?
  2. Health Benefits of Cymene
  3. Potential Risks and Side Effects>
  4. Cannabis Strains High in Cymene
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Cymene is a naturally occurring member of the terpene family present in the essential oils of many plants. Cymene has a wide variety of health benefits that have only recently begun to be recognized by the scientific community, including use as an antibiotic, anti-anxiety treatment, anti-inflammatory, and potentially as a cancer treatment. Cymene is found in cannabis as well and combines with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that also provide potent anti-inflammatory and therapeutic effects.

Free Cannabinoid and Terpene Guide

What Is Cymene?

Cymene’s chemical properties are largely due to its structure: one benzene ring with one methyl group and one isopropyl group attached. Cymene has three isomers: p-cymene, m-cymene, and o-cymene. Allomers have a molecular weight of 134.21g/mol and a density of 857kg/m3, making cymene lighter than water.

Cymene is naturally present in high quantities in the essential oils of thyme and oregano and smaller amounts in a wide range of herbs and spices. Common plants containing cymene are anise, cannabis, coriander, and cumin. In small quantities, cymene has a pleasant odor described as citrus, woody, sweet and earthy but can be overwhelmingly harsh and turpentine-like in strong concentrations. For this reason, cymene is used in the perfume industry and added in small amounts to cleaning products.

Cymene also alters how other aromatics smell and taste, leading to its usage in the food and beverage industry as a flavor additive. Like most terpenes, cymene adds a woody, earthy, slightly menthol aspect to the taste and smell of cannabis. Cymene is only present in small amounts in a few strains of cannabis. Still, due to the entourage effect, cymene’s presence can significantly impact the type, length, and intensity of the “high” experienced.

Cymene has shown promise in many therapeutic applications, including anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-tumor, and pain-killing abilities. However, the usefulness of cymene as a medication is limited by a half-life within the human body of only 40 minutes. Ongoing research aims to prolong the effects of p-cymene and enable its use as a medication for various illnesses.

Effects of Cymene

  • A woody-earthy citrus scent
  • Increases the uptake of other chemicals
  • Antioxidant

Health Benefits of Cymene


P-cymene is one of the main constituents in several essential oils known to have antibiotic properties and actively contributes to the inhibition of a wide range of bacteria and fungi. The low toxicity of p-cymene and its strong antibiotic properties make it an excellent candidate for use in food preservation and as a topical antibiotic.


P-cymene has been shown to relax smooth muscles and lower the risk of seizures in mice and guinea pigs. Smooth muscle relaxants treat various illnesses, including high blood pressure, peripheral vascular disease, congestive heart failure, premature labor, and asthma.

Although many studies are underway, p-cymene is not currently prescribed as an anticonvulsant medication, and more information is required before it can be recommended as an at-home treatment.


P-cymene is an effective painkiller because it prevents nociceptive (injury) pain and reduces inflammation when tested on mice. Most painkillers such as opioids and ibuprofen target either nociceptive or inflammatory pain. The ability of p-cymene to suppress both and its low toxicity in high concentrations shows promise for future application as a painkiller.


Oxidative damage to the nerves is strongly implicated as one of the leading causes of symptoms in Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease, as well as worsening the damage caused by strokes and brain injury. P-cymene has been shown to protect against oxidative damage of neurons in mice, suggesting that cymene may be suitable as a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic brain injury.

Unfortunately, there is a history of similar medications working well in animal models but failing to prevent disease in human studies, and so the use of cymene as a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases needs much more study before drawing any conclusions.

Cancer Treatment

A large number of monoterpenes show promise for use as anti-tumor medications, including p-cymene. P-cymene has been shown both as an isolate and a compound to be toxic to lab-grown human cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Although this has only been observed in cell cultures, the low toxicity of p-cymene is a promising indicator that it may be suitable for cancer treatment once researchers create a suitable delivery method.

Potential Risks and Side Effects>

Oral Toxicity

Cymene has extremely low oral toxicity, with a potentially fatal dose for an adult consisting of over half a cup of pure cymene. The FDA has declared cymene suitable as a food additive without a hard limit set for consumption. Because cymene poisoning is so rare, there is very little information on the subject.

Inhalation Toxicity

Although cymene has a very low oral toxicity, some studies have shown that prolonged inhalation can be fatal for mice. However, similar studies with rats and guinea pigs showed no toxicity. There is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not cymene is toxic to humans when inhaled, but the presence of unpleasant side effects, such as headache and nausea, suggests a potential hazard.

Side Effects

Exposure to everyday amounts of cymene has no documented side effects.

Exposure to high levels of cymene can result in itching, blisters, headache, dizziness and nausea. Significant exposure can lead to a loss of consciousness, coma, and death.

Cannabis Strains High in Cymene

  • Mango Haze
  • King Mamba
  • Bakerstreet
  • Moon
  • Lemon Skunk

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cymene used for?

Cymene is used as a flavor additive and in perfume.

Where is cymene found?

Cymene is found in the essential oils of a wide variety of plants, including thyme, oregano, anise, cumin, coriander and some strains of cannabis.

What does p-cymene smell like?

P-cymene has a woody, earthy, citrus scent, and can also change the way other compounds smell and taste.

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