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Limonene: The Fruity Terpene You Need to Know About

Did you know that the thing that makes your weed smell like citrusy deliciousness is actually called limonene? Limonene is just one of many terpenes produced in the resin glands of cannabis flowers. Terpenes are fragrant oils secreted alongside cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and these terpenes not only determine the smell of a cannabis strain, they also modify its effects. So next time you’re at the dispensary, keep an eye out for these popular strains that tend to produce limonene-dominant terpene profiles.

WeedSociety Weed Library article on limonene Terpene

(R)-Limonene is commonly found in Lemon & Orange Peels

10 Popular Strains That Produce Limonene-Dominant Terpene Profiles

 Each of these strains has unique effects thanks to their individual cannabinoid and terpene profiles. However, because limonene is known for its mood-lifting effects, these strains might be a good place to start if you’re looking for something to boost your spirits.    

What is Limonene? 

Chemical structure of Limonene

In isolation, limonene is commonly associated with fruity, citrus aromas, and it’s found in many everyday items like fruit rinds, cosmetics, and cleaning products. When it comes to cannabis, limonene is produced in the plant’s resin glands and it’s thought to play a role in making some strains taste and smell more citrusy.  Studies have shown that (R)-limonene might increase serotonin levels in the brain, which could lift your mood and produce feelings of happiness (something we can all use more of these days). In addition, limonene has demonstrated antifungal and antibacterial properties in lab studies. 

So next time you’re perusing your local dispensary’s menu, keep an eye out for some of these limonene-dominant strains. And who knows? You might just find your new favorite strain.

The Neuroprotective Benefits of Limonene

A graphic showing the neuroprotective mechanisms of limonene

This monoterpene has been shown to have neuroprotective properties and can be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety, and stroke. In this section, we will discuss the mechanisms of action of limonene and how this compound can be utilized to promote brain health.

The exact mechanisms by which (R)-limonene exerts its neuroprotective effects are not fully understood. However, there are several theories that have been proposed. One theory suggests that limonene promotes neuronal cell survival by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. (R)-Limonene has also been shown to increase levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are known to be involved in cognitive function. Additionally, limonene appears to promote myelin repair, which is essential for proper neurological function. 

(R)-Limonene has shown promise in both animal studies and human clinical trials. In one study, mice that were treated with (R)-limonene showed improved cognitive function and reduced levels of beta-amyloid plaques in their brains. Beta-amyloid plaques are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that patients with multiple sclerosis who were given limonene injections had reduced disability scores and fewer relapses than those who did not receive treatment with limonene. 

Although more research needs to be done in order to conclusively say that limonene can treat or cure neurodegenerative diseases, the available studies are very promising. The high abundance of limonene in nature, its safety profile, and various mechanisms of action make this monoterpene a favorable molecule to be developed as a nutraceutical for preventive purposes and as an alternative agent or adjuvant to modern therapeutic drugs in curbing the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.


Other Surprising Health Benefits of Limonene

You may not have heard of (R)-limonene before this article, but this little-known compound found in citrus fruits packs a big punch when it comes to health benefits. Studies have shown that limonene can help fight cancer, improve heart health, and relieve stress, among other things. Let’s take a closer look at some of the science-backed health benefits of (R)-limonene.

Cancer-Fighting Properties

There’s promising evidence for limonene’s anti-tumor effects. In lab rodents, limonene inhibited the growth of skin and mammary tumors. These studies were followed up with a Phase I human clinical trial which found that limonene was somewhat effective at reducing breast cancer tumor growth for nearly a year. Later studies found that daily limonene supplementation for 2-6 weeks silenced a protein that promotes breast cancer tumor growth, suggesting that daily limonene consumption may inhibit the growth and spread of breast tumors. 

Heart Health Benefits

In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, limonene also has some potential heart health benefits. One study found that Limonene increases levels of good cholesterol (HDL) while simultaneously decreasing levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries, thus helping to prevent heart disease. Another study found that taking 1 gram of limonene per day for 4 weeks lowered blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. 

Stress Relief

If you’re looking for a natural way to relieve stress, limonene may be worth trying. One study found that inhaling lemon essential oil decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in mice. Another study found that people who took 1000 mg of (R)-limonene per day for 4 weeks had lower levels of anxiety than those who took a placebo. 

Though more research is needed to confirm the potential health benefits of (R)-limonene, the preliminary research is promising. If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your health, adding foods rich in (R)-limonene to your diet is a good place to start. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are good sources, or you can try using lemon essential oil in diffusers or as part of aromatherapy.