Limonene: The Cannabis Terpene You Need to Know About

Table of Contents


Terpene Lowdown

Introduction: What is Limonene?

Limonene is a terpene that’s as common as it is beneficial. Found in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, this compound is also a key player in the cannabis plant. It’s not just about the aroma; limonene packs a punch regarding health benefits, too. According to a study by the American Chemical Society, the worldwide production of limonene is approximately 50,000 tonnes per year, with a market value of $323 million as of 2020. Source

So, let’s dive into the world of limonene, a terpene that’s making waves in both the cannabis and health sectors. It’s a compound that’s been around for ages but is now getting the attention it deserves, especially in the realm of cannabis.

The Two Sides of Limonene: D-Limonene and L-Limonene

Limonene exists in two forms: D-Limonene and L-Limonene. While D-Limonene is abundant in citrus oils and smells like oranges, L-Limonene is found in plants like caraway, dill, and bergamot, giving off a piny odour. Both forms have unique flavours and aromas, making them versatile in various applications, from food flavourings to industrial cleaning agents.

Interestingly, D-Limonene and L-Limonene have different therapeutic benefits. D-Limonene is often used for its mood-boosting effects, while L-Limonene has been found to have anti-anxiety properties. Source

Strains Limonene Article

Limonene in Cannabis: More Than Just a Background Player

When it comes to cannabis, limonene is far from a mere supporting act. Cannabis plants can contain up to 200 different terpenes, depending on the strain. Limonene is one of these “ensemble members” that work in the background to enhance the plant’s healing properties. This terpene not only adds to the aroma and flavour but also contributes to the overall therapeutic effects of cannabis.

In fact, limonene is the third most common terpene found in cannabis. It provides many benefits including boosting your mood, relieving stress, and enhancing some of the most used everyday household products. Source

The Multifaceted Uses of Limonene

Limonene is a jack-of-all-trades. It’s used in everything from food flavourings to personal care products and industrial cleaning solvents. But its versatility doesn’t stop there. A study conducted in 2018 found that limonene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are significant contributors to ozone formation, providing new insights into air pollution control.

Strains Limonene Article

In addition to its environmental impact, limonene is also a key ingredient in many household products. If you have a product that has a sweet, citrusy scent, you can guess it contains limonene terpenes in it. Source

Health Benefits: Not Just a Pretty Smell

Limonene is well-recognised for its health benefits, particularly its anticancer properties. It’s a bioactive food component found in citrus peels and has been identified as an anticancer agent. Source

Additionally, a study by the University of Paris-Sud found that limonene notably decreased stress-induced behaviours in rats, suggesting its potential anti-stress and anti-anxiety effects. This goes to show that limonene isn’t just about the aroma; it’s a compound with a multitude of health benefits that are still being explored. Source

Limonene In Cannabis

Limonene Cannabis Strains

Below is a small selection of the strains on our StrainBase which contain the Limonene Terpene.

The Entourage Effect: Limonene’s Synergistic Play with Cannabinoids

Limonene doesn’t just sit in the background when it comes to cannabis. It’s an active participant in what’s known as the “entourage effect.” This is where various cannabis compounds, including terpenes like limonene and cannabinoids like THC and CBD, work together to produce a range of effects. Limonene modulates the behaviour of these cannabinoids at the receptors, enhancing their therapeutic potential. But it’s not just about cannabinoids; limonene also interacts with other terpenes like beta-caryophyllene and myrcene, amplifying their activities.

The entourage effect is more than a buzzword; it’s a scientific phenomenon gaining traction. Research is delving into how limonene and other terpenes can modulate the effects of cannabinoids, potentially offering more targeted therapeutic applications. This synergy could be a game-changer in how we understand and use cannabis for medical purposes. Source

Identifying High-Limonene Strains: It’s Not Just About the Smell

You might think that a cannabis strain smelling strongly of citrus would be packed with limonene, but that’s not always the case. To truly identify a high-limonene strain, you’ll need lab-tested products. These tests reveal the actual terpene profile of the strain, ensuring you’re getting what you’re after.

Lab testing is crucial because the terpene profile can significantly influence the strain’s effects. So, knowing the terpene profile is essential if you’re seeking specific therapeutic benefits, like anti-anxiety or anti-inflammatory effects. And let’s be honest, no one wants to be sniffing around cannabis dispensaries all day; lab results offer a more precise and convenient method. Source

Beyond Cannabis: Limonene’s Broad Spectrum of Sources

Limonene isn’t exclusive to cannabis; it’s found in a variety of evergreen trees and other plants. If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods and caught a whiff of a faintly citrus smell, chances are it was due to limonene. This terpene is versatile, found in nature far and wide, and not just in cannabis or citrus fruits.

This broad occurrence of limonene in nature highlights its versatility and importance across various species of plants. It’s not just about the aroma; limonene plays a role in the plant’s growth, survival, and even its interactions with the surrounding environment. Source

The Healthful Promises of Limonene: More Than Just a Terpene

Limonene has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. It’s not just a component that adds to the aroma and flavour of cannabis; it’s a bioactive compound with significant therapeutic potential. Studies have shown that limonene can significantly decrease inflammation and colon damage in ulcerative colitis rats.

The health benefits of limonene extend beyond the cannabis world. In traditional medicine, it’s been used for centuries as a component of remedies for various ailments like bronchitis, heartburn, and gallstones. Modern medicine is now exploring the therapeutic possibilities of limonene, adding a new layer to its already impressive profile. Source

Strains Limonene Article

Scientific Inquiries and Future Directions: What’s Next for Limonene?

While the therapeutic potential of limonene is promising, it’s crucial to note that most research has been conducted in test tubes or on animals. There’s still a lot to learn about how limonene interacts with the human body and its long-term effects. More research is needed to solidify our understanding of this fascinating terpene.

The future for limonene looks bright as research continues to explore its various therapeutic benefits. As our understanding grows, so does the potential for new applications, not just in cannabis but in broader medical and industrial fields. Source

The Healthful Promises of Limonene

The Science Behind Limonene’s Health Benefits

Limonene isn’t just a pretty smell; it’s a powerhouse of health benefits. From anti-inflammatory properties to potential cancer-fighting abilities, this terpene is a subject of keen scientific interest. According to a review on PubMed, limonene has been studied for its “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antinociceptive, anticancer, antidiabetic, antihyperalgesic, antiviral, and gastroprotective effects, among other beneficial effects in health.” Source

Expanding on its anti-inflammatory properties, Healthline states that limonene has been shown to “reduce inflammatory markers that relate to osteoarthritis, a condition characterized by chronic inflammation.” The same source also mentions that limonene has demonstrated antioxidant effects, which help reduce cell damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals. Source

Mental Health Limonene

Limonene’s Role in Mental Health

But it’s not just physical health that limonene can potentially benefit. A study cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that volatile organic compounds rich in terpenes like limonene “could provide an alternative approach to positive outcomes for well-being and mental health.” Source

Safety Concerns and Dosage

While limonene is generally safe to consume, it’s not without its caveats. WebMD warns that consuming more than eight grams per day can lead to nausea and vomiting. It also advises caution when using limonene in the form of an essential oil, as it can cause skin irritation. Source

Future Directions and Research Gaps

The scientific community is buzzing about limonene, but we still don’t know a lot. As pointed out by Healthline, most of the research so far has been conducted in test tubes or on animals, making it difficult to fully understand limonene’s role in human health and disease prevention. Source

So, while the future looks promising, more human studies are needed to confirm these benefits. But one thing’s for sure: limonene is a terpene worth keeping an eye on, especially for those of us interested in the natural health benefits that cannabis and other plants have to offer.


Limonene is more than just a fragrant terpene found in cannabis and citrus fruits; it’s a compound with a broad spectrum of potential health benefits. From its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to its potential mental health benefits, limonene is a subject of ongoing research and a promising natural remedy for various conditions.

Limonene FAQs:

Is Limonene Safe?

Limonene is generally considered safe and is classified as “GRAS” (Generally Recognised as Safe) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, some people have reported allergic contact dermatitis reactions to limonene. It’s always best to consult a healthcare provider if you have skin sensitivities. Source

How Much Limonene is in Cannabis?

Limonene occurs in cannabis in trace amounts. If you’re keen on strains with more limonene, look for lab-tested products or strains with citrusy expressions like Super Lemon Haze. Source

Yes, limonene oxide is a monoterpene with antitumoral and antinociceptive properties that can be prepared from limonene. Source

What Are the Health Benefits of Limonene?

Research indicates that limonene may offer a range of health benefits, both physical and psychological. It has been shown to reduce inflammation, possess antioxidant properties, and even have anticancer effects. Source

Can Limonene Interact with Medications?

Certain medications may interact negatively with limonene. It’s highly recommended to consult your doctor before taking any supplements containing limonene. Source

Is Limonene Only Found in Cannabis?

No, limonene is a versatile terpene found in a variety of plants, including citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. It’s also present in evergreen trees. If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods and caught a whiff of a faintly citrus smell, chances are it was due to limonene. Source: Trusted Canna Nurse

Can Limonene Cause Allergic Reactions?

Yes, limonene can cause allergic reactions in some people. Contact dermatitis and other skin sensitivities have been reported. So, if you’ve got sensitive skin, it’s something to be aware of. Source: WebMD

How Does Limonene Interact with Other Terpenes and Cannabinoids?

Limonene plays a critical role in the entourage effect, modulating the behaviour of cannabinoids like CBD and THC at the receptors. It also promotes the activities of other terpenoids like beta-caryophyllene and myrcene. Source: Trusted Canna Nurse

Is Limonene Safe to Consume?

Generally, limonene is considered safe to consume. However, consuming more than eight grams per day can lead to nausea and vomiting in some people. Source: WebMD

Does Limonene Have Anti-Cancer Effects?

There’s promising evidence for limonene’s anti-tumour effects. In lab rodents, limonene inhibited the growth of skin and mammary tumours. However, it’s important to note that high doses are likely needed beyond what may be present in cannabis alone. Source: Leafly

Can Limonene Help with Stress and Anxiety?

A study by the University of Paris-Sud found that limonene notably decreased stress-induced behaviours in rats, suggesting its potential anti-stress and anti-anxiety effects. Source: University of Paris-Sud

How Can I Identify High-Limonene Strains?

When seeking strains high in limonene, you’ll need to find lab-tested products. Lab tests are the only way to confirm that the strain you’re buying is packed with limonene. Source: Leafly

Limonene Weed Strains

Now you've learnt more about the wonderful Limonene terpene, explore cannabis strains on our StrainBase which contain this marvellous compound.

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