If you’re like many people, your idea of tropical fruit is a pineapple.
Maybe, if you’ve taken a Hawaiian vacation, you know about papaya. You may even have tried a kiwi or a star fruit when you saw them at the supermarket.
Then, there are mangos. You might have heard about them for a different reason if you have stoner friends.
At least one of them has probably suggested that you eat a mango before smoking up because the combination of weed and mango will get you even higher. And there’s a good chance you ignored their advice. We all know how rarely stoner myths turn out to be true.
It’s time to revisit the matter. It turns out that mangos and cannabis really do have a symbiotic relationship that might boost your buzz.
Let’s get into the details.
What Is a Mango?
Mangos are also tropical fruits. They’ve grown in India and Southeast Asia for thousands of years, where they’re a “sacred” fruit to Buddhists.
Travelers brought the mango to other parts of the world several thousand years ago, but the fruit has only been cultivated in America for about a century. And since mangos only grow in tropical climates, very few are produced here. Most of the ones that reach U.S. markets come from Central and South America.
The mango is a fleshy, sweet fruit (although partially-ripe mangos are crunchy and sourer). Its taste is citrusy, somewhat similar to a combination of pineapples, oranges, and peaches, and the fruit has a delicious tropical and floral smell.
The taste and aroma of mangos are the important takeaways from our discussion.
Mangos and Terpenes
You’ve probably aware of terpenes. They’re the compounds in cannabis plants that are largely responsible for the flavor and scent of weed; different combinations of terpenes produce different tastes and smells. Terpenes also boost the effectiveness of the THC and CBD in marijuana and provide their own medical and health benefits.
Terpenes aren’t unique to weed. Most plants contain compounds responsible for much of the trademark aromas of fruits, vegetables, and spices.
You can thank the terpene thymol (at least in part) for the scent of thyme and oregano, limonene for the aroma of citrus fruits, and pinene for the smell of basil and dill.
And mangos are rich in the terpene myrcene, which is the terp we need to focus on.
What is Myrcene?
Myrcene is a plant metabolite that’s also found in guava and a number of spices (notably lemongrass). It’s often used as a food additive to provide flavor, and it’s added to detergents and cosmetics to provide a pleasant, earthy scent. Another common use for myrcene is in brewing; it’s responsible for the aroma and taste of the hops used to make beer.
We’ve mentioned that terpenes can provide health benefits to the people consuming them, and myrcene is the “healthiest” of all terps.
Myrcene appears to have bountiful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. When large amounts of the terpene are consumed, it has been found to provide analgesic (pain relief) and sedative benefits as well.
The people who measure this type of thing tell us that mangos have the highest myrcene content of any food. Keep that in mind as we move on.
Myrcene and Weed
We’re almost back to where we started. All strains of cannabis contain combinations of terpenes, which largely determine the aroma and taste of marijuana while helping to boost the effectiveness of its cannabinoids (through what’s known as the “entourage effect”).
The most common terpene found in weed is — you guessed it — myrcene. The International Hemp Association did a test, choosing 16 strains at random and finding that myrcene made up 65% of all of the strains’ terpene content.
That’s a good thing. Because when it comes to increasing weed’s effectiveness, myrcene appears to have won the gold medal. Researchers say that myrcene seems to affect the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. That allows THC to reach the brain faster, carrying all of its potency with it.
Those who use topical medical marijuana can also benefit from the presence of myrcene in their products because the terpene has been shown to enhance the absorption of medications administered transdermally.
One other interesting fact: some of the strains with high levels of myrcene, like Purple Kush and Grape Ape, are known for their sedating effects. We’ve already mentioned those effects in connection with myrcene’s health benefits, but they go even further.
The terpene has been shown to act as a muscle relaxant and increase the effectiveness of barbiturates. In fact, it’s used in Germany as a sleep aid. And while it hasn’t been scientifically proven, some experts believe that myrcene is primarily responsible for the couch-lock associated with many indica strains.
OK, we’ve established that there’s myrcene in mangos and myrcene in weed and that the terpene is important to both of them. Let’s see what that implies.
Mangos and Marijuana: Do They Play Well Together?
There’s no available research that would prove or disprove the old stoners’ tale that eating mango while smoking weed can get you higher than just the weed on its own.
However, so many people have claimed that mangos boost the psychoactive effects of THC that the story warrants further consideration. And circumstantial evidence appears to bolster their claims.
Since the myrcene in marijuana makes it easier for THC to permeate the blood-brain barrier and deliver its psychoactive effects, it’s simply common sense to assume that consuming more of the terpene — in the form of myrcene that’s plentiful in mangos — would enhance the process and increase the THC’s bioavailability even more.
That’s all we’ve got for “proof,” but combine it with a wealth of anecdotal evidence, and the MythBusters would probably label this claim as probable.
If you want to experience a double dose of myrcene, when should you eat the mango? Experts (in other words, stoners) say that the best time is 45-60 minutes before you plan to fire up a bowl. That will give the body enough time to digest the fruit and make its myrcene available.
You’ll probably also want to choose a strain with high myrcene content. Some of the ones to consider for an enhanced case of couch-lock: Purple Kush and Grape Ape (as we’ve already mentioned), OG Kush, Granddaddy Purple, or Remedy. If you prefer to supercharge an energetic high, try mango with strains like White Widow, Blue Dream, Harlequin, or Tangie (a particularly good choice for medical patients).
Mangos and Marijuana: FAQ
Q: Can mangos get you high by themselves?
A: No. They contain high levels of myrcene that apparently helps boost THC’s effects, but they don’t contain THC or any other psychoactive compounds.
Q: Is there anything else you can eat that will give you a better high when you smoke?
A: Some suggest that broccoli can do the trick. The beta-caryophyllene (another terpene) it contains can interact with some of the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. It may increase feelings of relaxation to counter any anxiety produced by THC while helping the weed reduce pain and inflammation at the same time.
- Sommano, S. R., Chittasupho, C., Ruksiriwanich, W., & Jantrawut, P. (2020). The cannabis terpenes. Molecules, 25(24), 5792 .
- Surendran, S., Qassadi, F., Surendran, G., Lilley, D., & Heinrich, M. (2021). Myrcene—What Are the Potential Health Benefits of This Flavouring and Aroma Agent?. Frontiers in nutrition, 400 .