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Limonene Image

What is limonene?

A terpene easily recognized for its zesty citrus fragrance, primarily found in lemon, but also in lime, grapefruit and orange is limonene. Limonene is found in many strains of cannabis as well as in the peels of these citrus fruits. Limonene is one of the most plentiful terpenes in cannabis, along with myrcene. It has anti-anxiety, anticancer, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and potentially other medical uses that it is being explored for.


What is limonene good for?

Limonene occurs naturally in juniper, rosemary, mint, fennel and pine in addition to its dominating presence in many strains of cannabis. Rosemary, as one example, is channeled in essential oil form for therapeutic reasons including in muscle balms and for scalp massage. Limonene has many uses for industrial purposes: as a solvent to remove oil from machinery, an organic herbicide and a paint stripper. It has also been used for centuries as part of remedies for heartburn, gallstones and bronchitis in traditional medicine. Modern medicine is finally looking into the therapeutic possibilities of limonene and many other terpenes, such as caryophyllene.


What does limonene smell like?

If you use any lemon or citrus scented cleaning products in your home, you’ve likely smelled limonene. Indigenous communities have used limonene’s antimicrobial properties for centuries in fact. You’ve also tasted limonene when eating a citrus fruit. Two other interactions you may have had with limonene are citrusy beverages such as lemonade and citrus-flavoured ice cream.


Is limonene good for skin?

Found in fragrances, cosmetics and body creams limonene is a popular ingredient. It’s considered a skin irritant in high concentrations that has the potential to trigger contact dermatitis for those who are allergic to the terpene, according to research conducted in 2014 and published in the journal Contact Dermatitis.


Therapeutic properties of limonene

Limonene has a number of potential effects on the immune system. Its potential to help with mood disorders and cancer, among other health issues and its antimicrobial and antibacterial effects are being researched.


In hopes of treating conditions such as insomnia and anxiety, essential oils containing limonene are widely used. A 2013 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine looked at the ability of limonene to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in rodents with these disorders, to try to validate these uses. It appeared to improve anxiety by interacting with the brain’s serotonin system, although they found no evidence for the antidepressive effects.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

A 2017 study published in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports showed limonene’s ability to reduce organ damage and disease activity using an animal model of ulcerative colitis. As reported by other researchers as well, including a 2015 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, these effects were in part due to the terpene’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


It seems to reduce pain in animal models, as reported in a 2017 study published in the journal Neuroscience, at least in part due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Many studies have demonstrated prospective anticancer properties of limonene, including one published in 2019 in the New Zealand journal OncoTargets and Therapy. They found that limonene inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells in mice while suppressing the proliferation of transplanted tumors.

Limonene can also enhance the effects of chemotherapy drugs used to treat certain types of prostrate cancer in another study conducted on cancer cells in a lab and published in 2009 in the Indian Journal of Carcinogenesis. As part of a blood orange oil emulsion, limonene demonstrated its ability to kill human colon cancer cells in a lab setting as published in the journal Life Sciences. This particular emulsion, as asserted in the study, can even offer hope for the prevention of cancer.


Does limonene get you high?

Limonene has shown potential mood-altering effects, especially with regard to depression and anxiety, even though tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC) is the component in cannabis that gets you classically high. The terpene may still impact how you feel even though it’s not directly responsible for the high from cannabis.


Role of limonene in cannabis

There are plenty of cannabis strains with high levels of limonene.

  • Emerald Jack
  • Shining Silver Haze
  • Lemon G
  • Liberty Haze
  • Cookies and Cream

You may also perceive a non-specific citrus quality in addition to a lemon scent and flavour in some limonene-rich cannabis strains. Your experience will not be the same across the board since some cannabis strains with limonene possess other potent citrus tastes and aromas, such as tangerine.


Bottom line

Limonene is memorable for its flavourful and aromatic citrus profile and potential as an anti-inflammatory and is among the most common terpenes found in cannabis.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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