What Is Limonene? [Ultimate Cannabis Terpene Guide]

In the past few years, more people have become aware of the benefits of cannabis terpenes like limonene. Not only do they give individual strains their unique flavors and aromas, but they also contribute to their overall effects.

Furthermore, many terpenes have a positive influence on health and wellbeing. They play a crucial role in the entourage effect, increasing the overall efficacy of both cannabis and CBD oil. Furthermore, they have many valuable properties of their own.

In this article, we examine limonene, one of the most famous cannabis terpenes. Here’s all you need to know.

What Is Limonene?

Limonene is a monoterpene, a relatively simple molecule with the chemical formula C₁₀H₁₆. It’s a colorless liquid at room temperature, with a lemony aroma and a sweet, citrus taste.

The compound comes in many different forms, but the most common by far is D-limonene. In fact, D-limonene is one of the most abundant terpenes in nature. Its best-known source is citrus rind, although it is also present in many other plant species, including cannabis.

Thanks to its fresh, lemon scent, limonene has become a popular ingredient in everyday household products. You will find it in a variety of items, including:

  • Food products
  • Perfumes
  • Cosmetics
  • Furniture polish
  • Cleaning products
  • Paint and varnish

So, other than having a pleasant smell, what are the other benefits of limonene? Let’s take a look.

Limonene Benefits

Research has highlighted several potential limonene benefits. However, it is essential to note that most of the data come from animal studies. Full-scale, human clinical trials are still lacking.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Like many other terpenes, limonene appears to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2010 study for the Journal of Food Science found that it inhibits cytokines. These chemicals are a vital component of the immune system and help to trigger the inflammatory response.

The study also found that limonene reduced the production of reactive oxygen species, providing antioxidant effects. The authors conclude that these properties could make limonene useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like bronchial asthma.

Another study from the same year, this time for the Journal of Oleo Science, supported these results. It found that limonene inhibited the activity of several different cytokines. The authors state, “we suggest that D-limonene may be considered a potential anti-inflammatory candidate.”

Antitumor Effects

According to the National Cancer Institute, limonene may have chemopreventive and antitumor properties. Although the exact mechanism of action is unclear, it seems that limonene helps to induce apoptosis. This is a process whereby damaged and diseased cells self-destruct.

Promotes Digestive Health

It also appears that limonene’s benefits include supporting a healthy digestive system. It does this in several different ways.

A 2017 study for Molecular Medicine Reports suggests that limonene’s anti-inflammatory effects could help combat ulcerative colitis in rats.

Furthermore, 2009 research in Chemico-Biological Interactions found that the terpene could increase gastric mucus production. This effect allows limonene to protect the digestive tract, providing potential benefits for conditions such as heartburn and GERD.

Antimicrobial Effects

Many terpenes have antimicrobial effects, and limonene is no exception. It can act as a food preservative, preventing bacteria from spreading. Furthermore, a 2006 study in the Journal of Periodontology indicates that it is effective against certain fungi and parasites, as well.

Anti-Anxiety Effects

A 2002 study in Phytomedicine found that limonene also had sedating and motor-relaxant properties in mice.

These results are backed by a 2013 study in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. It found that inhaled limonene had anxiety-reducing properties. The authors of the study suggest that the terpene could be useful as an anti-anxiety agent in aromatherapy.

Reduces Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

One of the most exciting benefits of limonene is that it appears to benefit both cholesterol and blood sugar. The results of 2013 research for the European Journal of Pharmacology explain. They found that mice who ate a high-fat diet to induce fatty liver experienced numerous benefits after treatment with limonene.

The positive effects of the terpene included reducing serum triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Additionally, limonene reduced fasting blood glucose levels and glucose tolerance.

Therefore, this terpene may have the ability to combat both dyslipidemia and hyperglycemia. Both of these conditions are common in diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Appetite Reduction

A 2008 study in Neuroscience Letters found that the aroma of limonene could reduce the appetite of blowflies. Of course, more research is necessary to confirm whether these effects carry over to humans, but the results are interesting nonetheless.

Limonene Side Effects

Although limonene has several benefits, high doses may cause side effects in some instances. It can act as a skin and eye irritant and may cause contact allergies in some people, especially those who regularly use cleaning products.

Furthermore, high doses of limonene could cause side effects, including diarrhea, painful constrictions, and excess protein in the urine.

Studies on rats have found that it can cause kidney damage and tumors. However, most authorities have deemed the terpene safe for human consumption. It is unlikely that the levels of limonene in marijuana strains pose any risk to health.

Best High Limonene Cannabis Strains

If you are wondering where to find limonene, several cannabis strains offer a perfect place to start.

In general, any strain with a citrus flavor, be it orange or lemon is likely to be high in limonene. Some of our favorite limonene cannabis strains include:

Super Lemon Haze

With a THC content of 16–25%, Super Lemon Haze could be too potent for inexperienced cannabis users. However, this sativa-dominant hybrid packs both great flavor and an enjoyable high, making it an ever-popular strain.


It tastes lemony, sweet, and earthy, all at once, and users describe the high as creative and focused. It is an excellent choice for anyone suffering from stress or anxiety and may even help to relieve chronic pain. Its limonene content clocks in at an impressive 3.22%.


Another strain with a refreshing citrus flavor and a hefty dose of limonene is the slightly sativa-leaning Cinex. Its THC content is on the high side, with some samples testing at over 25%. However, seasoned cannabis lovers will adore the energetic, cerebral high this strain provides.


It is famous as a medicinal strain for mood disorders such as stress, anxiety, and PTSD. It may also help to focus the mind and relieve ADHD symptoms. Its limonene content is a respectable 0.91%.

UK Cheese

You might not immediately associate this strain with citrus. However, this pungent bud contains a surprisingly high level of limonene. UK Cheese is an indica-dominant hybrid with a THC content of 18%. Users describe its effects as relaxing and euphoric, making this strain a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.


Medical uses of UK Cheese include relieving depression and improving the mood. Once its indica effects come to the fore, it provides a deep body high to alleviate pain. It contains an above-average limonene content of 0.53%.


If high-THC strains are not your thing, ACDC could be the answer to your prayers. It contains just traces of the intoxicating cannabinoid but has a whopping CBD content of around 20%. ACDC won’t get you high, but users report feeling happy and uplifted after consuming this strain.


Its high levels of CBD mean that ACDC is a fantastic medicinal strain. The strain’s benefits include reducing inflammation, pain, and anxiety, among many others. Its limonene content is approximately 0.32%.

Other Sources of Limonene (Not Cannabis)

Limonene is not only found in cannabis but a range of other sources too. The most common is citrus rind, including:

  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Mandarin
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit

It is also present in lower quantities in other plants, including:

  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Caraway
  • Celery

You can boost your limonene intake by incorporating more of these foods into your daily diet.

Final Thoughts on Limonene

Cannabis terpenes have entered the limelight in recent times, and limonene is one of the most common. Although human studies are necessary to confirm its effects, it appears to have several benefits.

Aside from its possible advantages from a health perspective, high-limonene cannabis strains are fan favorites throughout the industry. They possess a delicious citrus flavor, often accompanied by uplifting and energizing effects.

For more great-tasting cannabis varieties with a high that you’ll love, check out some of our best strains with a citrus flavor.

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