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Let’s be honest: the cannabis community has some weird terminology. When talking about terpenes, you may have heard your budtender or canna-connoisseur friend talk about strains with limonene. No, that’s not some strange typo — limonene is a legitimate terpene within various cannabis strains. And today, we want to help you get to know it just a little bit better. From the effects and benefits of limonene to its uses and sources, Elevate Holistics provides a comprehensive guide to this citrusy terpene.


If you want a better idea about terpenes in general, check out what else our cannabis experts have written for you: The Nose Knows: Picking Up Cannabis Terpenes & What are Terpenes? Why Should You Care?

What is a Terpene?


Generally, terpenes are known for their primary roles in determining how plants smell. In cannabis, terpenes, in a process tagged as ‘the entourage effect,’ push their role a bit further to synergize with other compounds, such as THC, to enhance their effects. Consequently, what follows is a better experience for the consumer. Essentially, terpenes plus cannabinoids equal a potent, fulfilling cannabis journey.


Terpenes also have many medicinal benefits, and cannabis is one of the most abundant sources of these medicinal terpenes. So far, scientists have found over 100 terpenes in the cannabis plant alone. Due to the effects of limonene, it is one of the top three most sought-after terpenes within marijuana strains. 

What is Limonene Terpene?


In nature, limonene, also known as d-limonene because of its chemical structure, is a terpene commonly found in the rinds of oranges, limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Aside from citrus fruits, these compounds also exist in cannabis and some other herbs. 


Limonene Terpene Effects in Cannabis


Cannabis plants, strains, or products rich in limonene tend to have a hint of lemon scent. However, this is not constant with all, as some may possess different citrus aromas that are hard to define. Still, others may not have any citrus scent at all. It just depends! 


The effects of limonene in marijuana are attached to its nature as a terpene compound and its significant role in the cannabis entourage effect. It helps moderate CBD, THC, and other cannabis compounds to provide an effect that is often milder but offers a better, more full-bodied experience.


Furthermore, upon consumption, the body quickly absorbs limonene into the bloodstream, and this can influence how fast other compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus potentially making the overall effects of marijuana kick in quicker. Who wouldn’t want that?

What Does Limonene Do to the Brain?

Limonene, a prevalent terpene in citrus fruits, is believed to alleviate stress and mood disorders. It has been noted that dopamine and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) significantly influence anxiety regulation across various regions of the brain. This connection suggests that limonene may interact with these neurotransmitters, potentially enhancing their calming effects. 

Is Limonene More Sativa or Indica?


Limonene, as a terpene, transcends the traditional Sativa/Indica classification of cannabis strains, which are typically distinguished by their physical effects and plant characteristics. Instead, limonene is an aromatic compound found in the essential oils of citrus fruits and various cannabis strains, contributing to their distinct scents and potential therapeutic effects. 

But while the presence of limonene is not exclusive to either Sativa or Indica strains, it is often more prominent in Sativa-dominant strains, known for their uplifting and energizing effects. 

What is Limonene Good For?


There are many medicinal benefits associated with limonene, which arguably, makes it one of the most preferred choices in the medical marijuana industry. Some of the limonene benefits and uses include:

Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties


Through stringent research, limonene appears to be potent in reducing inflammation and chronic inflammation. Also, various studies in different settings have shown that limonene, exhibits antioxidant effects and could be applied to curtail the impact of oxidation-induced DNA damage. On a general note, terpenes — limonene included — have shown a significant indication of possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  

Anti-Anxiety and Antidepressant Properties


In the medical marijuana community, limonene-dominant cannabis strains have been touted by dispensaries and consumers as having antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties, which can help lift mood and alleviate stress levels. Other studies further support this theory, demonstrating limonene’s potential to boost spirits through the active interaction of the brain’s serotonin system.

Antiplasmodial Properties


Through various studies, researchers believe limonene to be an active inhibitor of malaria parasites by tracking the parasite’s pathway and stalling the biological processes that allow for the parasite’s growth. Hence, some professionals utilize terpene in the manufacture of antimalarial drugs.

Anticancer Properties


Among the numerous kinds of terpenes that scientists have found and researched, limonene stands out for its anticancer properties — similar to medical cannabis. While it is not certain why limonene is so potent in inhibiting cancer, various studies have clearly indicated that the compound is incredibly effective. Hence, manufacturers often add it to chemopreventive drugs for multiple kinds of cancer, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, and others.

Other benefits of limonene include:


  • Antifungal and antibacterial properties
  • Analgesic properties

Other Limonene Uses


Given its extensive benefits, patients often use limonene to elevate their mood, ease pain, and relieve stress and anxiety. On a broader note, you can utilize limonene in various forms within the medical field to support in treating cancer, treating bronchitis, promoting weight loss, and so much more. Additionally, it boosts the absorption of other terpenes into the bloodstream.


Growers also tend to use limonene in flavoring various cannabis strains. So, if your bud tastes extra lemony this time around, it might be some added limonene. 

Where Else is Limonene Found?


Limonene, a versatile compound, plays a significant role in a wide array of everyday items, extending well beyond its presence in cannabis. Primarily found in citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and limes, limonene accounts for a large portion of their peel composition, particularly in oranges where it constitutes up to 97% of the rind. This compound is not limited to fruit; it’s a key ingredient in various lemon-flavored foods and beverages, lending them their distinctive citrus taste.


Add to that, limonene’s refreshing scent is highly valued in household cleaning products, contributing to their lemony fragrance. Its efficacy extends to natural insect repellents, where its  strong aroma is utilized to deter pests. The health and wellness industry also recognizes limonene’s potential, incorporating it into dietary supplements aimed at leveraging its therapeutic benefits.


Essential oils are another domain where limonene is highly sought after, appreciated for its mood-enhancing properties. Beyond these applications, limonene is also naturally occurring in other plants, including pine and mint.

What is a Limonene-Dominant Cannabis Strain?


Naturally, limonene occurs in trace amounts within cannabis plants, often less than 2%. However, some cannabis strains have higher levels of limonene. The increased level of composition is mainly defined by the by processes used in planting and treating the plants and their genetics.


Limonene-dominant strains have high levels of limonene, are popular for their calming effects, and are believed to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Some of the most common limonene-dominant cannabis strains include:


  • Berry White
  • Tahoe OG
  • Do-Si-Dos
  • Lemon OG
  • Banana OG
  • Wedding Cake
  • Cinex
  • Quantum Kush
  • Black Cherry Soda
  • Purple Hindu Kush
  • Super Lemon Haze
  • Jack Herer
  • Blue Dream
  • Chernobyl

So, How Can I Try Limonene-Rich Cannabis Strains?


You can find any of these cannabis strains rich in limonene effects within state-authorized dispensaries in your area. However, unless you live in a recreationally legal state, you’re only able to access them using your MMJ card! But, if you don’t have a medical marijuana card just yet, don’t worry. That’s why Elevate Holistics is here to help. 


Elevate Holistics works with relevant agencies in states where medical marijuana is legal to ensure that you get your MMJ card in just a few easy steps — and at an affordable rate, too. Contact us now to learn more about MMJ cards and how you can get your hands on one soon. Together, we can boost your health and upgrade your life — terpenes, cannabinoids, and all. 

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Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

About the author

Michael Lawal is a seasoned content writer with specialized expertise in the medical cannabis industry. With a background that blends journalism and health sciences, Michael has a knack for translating complex medical cannabis research into accessible and engaging content. His writing portfolio showcases a range of work from informative articles and research summaries to patient education materials. Committed to raising awareness about the benefits and responsible use of medical cannabis, Michael's work is a valuable resource for both consumers and professionals in the field.
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