Terpene Profiles: Limonene, A Zesty, Citrusy Medicine from the Cannabis Plant

If you’ve been reading our blog, you know that we’re highly focused—so to speak—on terpenes, the fragrant hydrocarbons (or essential oils) that give different strains of cannabis—and many other plants and natural substances—their distinctive aromas and flavors.

While terpenes aren’t the only “active ingredients” in the cannabis plant, we believe they’re among the most important. Not only do they lend each plant its distinctive flavor and aroma, but all those terpenes—and there are over 200!—have medical attributes as well, bringing their own unique healing to the table, both alone and in collaboration with others.

Today, we’re going to look at limonene, one of the most distinctive of all terpenes. As you might guess, it has a characteristic lemony aroma. It’s found in citrus rinds and has been used in medicines, foods, and even all-natural cleaning products for many years.

Limonene does a lot for our bodies—and also for our minds. Let’s dive in and learn a bit more about this fascinating plant compound and how we interact with it!

Limonene - oils in front of lemon slices

What Does Limonene Do For Us?

Though many primary terpenes such as humulene and pinene exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, one of limonene’s greatest gifts may be as a “helper terpene,” facilitating the absorption of other terpenes through the skin, mucous membranes, and gut.

That last part of the body is important when it comes to limonene: Many of the terpene’s benefits center on healthy digestion and gut function. Other potential benefits include:

Anti-Cancer: Fighting cancer remains one of medical researchers’ highest priorities, and like many other terpenes, limonene may have a role to play. Studies published by the University of Arizona suggest that limonene helps to regulate our immune system—hugely important in fighting cancer as well as many other diseases—but may also play a direct role in controlling the spread of certain cancers themselves.

Anti-Fungal: As a study has demonstrated, limonene exhibits powerful antifungal characteristics. Because it’s so readily absorbed through the skin, this may make it a promising treatment for stubborn fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and yeast outbreaks.

General Mood: Anecdotally, many fans report that limonene lends a generalized feeling of uplift and well-being. That’s certainly the case with high-limonene cannabis strains, as we’ll see below.

Limonene - buds around lemons

How to Get Limonene from Cannabis

Limonene is one of the “primary terpenes,” and it’s highly abundant in cannabis. That said, not all high-limonene strains smell like fresh lemons; sometimes the terpene may have a more subtle citrus scent, or even not one at all!

Strains with “lemon” in their name are a good indicator of limonene content. Others include:

Sour Diesel: An invigorating strain with a pungent scent, it’s known for long-lasting cerebral and energizing effects. Limonene uplift is evident in its noted anti-depressive qualities as well.

Jack Herer: A legendary strain among medical cannabis users, this strain—named for the legendary cannabis activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes—lends a blissful, clear-headed, and inspiring. Again, these qualities are all in accord with limonene’s noted mood-enhancing gifts.

OG Kush is a potent high-THC strain, and its piney, peppery and earthy aromas lead many fans to label it the ultimate “dank” weed. Its pleasurable effects include strong euphoria and general uplift, but be forewarned: It can exhibit powerful “couch lock”!

Looking for high-limonene strains? Stop by our Oakland dispensary for high-quality cannabis—or check out our online dispensary menu.