Welcome back to another installment of Terpenes 101—our series of blogs exploring the fascinating world of terpenes. Today, we’re looking at one of our all-time favorite terps, limonene!
This tangy terpene can be found in citrus fruits and in tons of artificial flavorings, but before we get too deep into what makes limonene special, let's back up and review some of the basics about terpenes.
What Are Terpenes?
In recent years, the commercial cannabis industry has begun putting a large emphasis on terpenes. Cultivators differentiate strains based partially on their terpene profiles, and cannabis researchers have begun seriously investigating the potential therapeutic and medicinal benefits of terpenes.
But what exactly are terpenes, and what do they have to do with weed?
Terpenes are aromatic molecules found in all plants. They’re the compounds responsible for giving every herb and every flower its unique smell—from the rosemary in your spice rack to the wild lavender bushes dotting the hills of Southern France.
If you look at terpenes under a microscope, you can see they’re made up of multiple isoprene units. We break terpenes up into different categories depending on how many of these isoprene units they contain. Monoterpenes have 2 isoprene units, sesquiterpenes have 3 isoprene units, diterpenes have 4 isoprene units, and triterpenes have 6 isoprene units. Limonene only contains 2 isoprene units, so it’s considered a monoterpene.
Do Terpenes Get You High?
Because terpenes have become so strongly associated with commercial cannabis, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume they have some intoxicating qualities. However, terpenes don’t actually get you high.
However, some scientists speculate that they may have an impact on how the intoxicating cannabinoid THC affects the human brain. The entourage effect theory suggests that the multiple cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis flower work together synergistically to enhance each compound’s individual benefit.
While most plants contain one or two terpenes, cannabis is chock full of them. The cannabis plant is infamous for its strong skunk scent. That signature fragrance, sometimes sweet, sometimes reminiscent of petrol, is the product of all the different terpenes in cannabis combining into one pungent odor.
But these terpenes do more than just smell nice. For centuries, traditional folk medicines have utilized terpenes to treat various ailments, and modern medical professionals have started to uncover what makes these compounds actually effective.
We’ve discovered that terpenes may have several therapeutic properties, including:
- Anti cancer
What Is Limonene
In addition to being one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, limonene can also be found in citrus fruits, and it’s often used as a fragrance in common household cleaning products.
Limonene is easily recognizable from its distinctive scent—a sweet and sour citrusy combination reminiscent of lemons and oranges. When your cannabis has a noticeably tart or fruity smell, you likely have a particularly limonene-rich strain.
Like many other terpenes, limonene has several potential medicinal benefits.
For example, research shows that limonene can operate as a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. While inflammation is our body's way of healing itself, too much inflammation can lead to chronic pain and serious health conditions.
Another study using rodent models found that rats administered limonene showed decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, suggesting that limonene may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, preliminary research indicates limonene may help reduce the risk of skin cancer, and inhibit tumor growth. While the studies are incredibly promising, we need more research to determine if limonene could actually be an effective part of a cancer treatment plan.
Curious about limonene and want to try it for yourself? Here are some of our top limonene-rich strains.
- Lemon Cheesecake: This hybrid takes the best parts of its parent strains, Lemon Skunk and Cheese, resulting in a deep musky aroma nicely rounded out by sharp notes of lemon and orange. Its high THC percentages make Lemon Cheesecake an excellent choice for those who want to get absolutely zooted.
- Banana OG: While not quite as powerful as Lemon Cheesecake, Banana OG still packs a powerful punch. The indica dominant hybrid is best enjoyed at night when you can lean into the couch lock
- Stem Uplift: This eco-friendly disposable cartridge is filled with top-shelf sun-grown hemp. Stem Uplift’s blend of terpenes and cannabinoids has been expertly designed to help boost energy and keep you focused on the day ahead.
Do you have a favorite limonene strain? Let us know on Twitter!