Being such well-educated and savvy cannasseurs—as well as regular readers of our educational blogs—there’s a good chance you’ve already familiar with terpenes. They’re the fragrant essential oils that give cannabis strains—not to mention many other plants and natural substances—their distinctive aromas and flavors. But like many aspects of the cannabis plant, they’re so much more than just a pretty scent. Terpenes elicit powerful effects on our bodies, and today’s star terpene—limonene—is one of the more fascinating.
Given its name, you can probably guess at some of its olfactory qualities. But in addition to imparting a pleasing, lemony scent to some strains, limonene is a powerful mood-booster. What’s more, research indicates it has a role to play in combating undesirable fungi, and may even someday help us discover how to fight cancer.
What Does Limonene Do For Us?
Limonene is found in many sources besides cannabis. Besides contributing much of the scent of—wait for it—fresh lemons, it’s abundant in other citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, and limes. Because it’s so distinctive and appealing, it’s often used as an all-natural additive to beverages, baked goods, candies, and even non-edible goods like detergents.
Why is limonene so popular? That pleasing lemon scent can have a profound effect on our mood, as research shows. It’s further indication that while THC provides the “high,” many other factors—such as terpenes—go into regulating the overall experience.
Inside our bodies, it’s believed that limonene can act as a sort of “helper terpene,” facilitating the absorption of other terpenes through the skin, mucous membranes and gut. That’s one reason that limonene may help regulate healthy digestion and general gut function.
Another study demonstrates that limonene exhibits powerful antifungal characteristics. In part, because it’s readily absorbed through our skin, the terpene may be part of future treatments for stubborn fungal infections like athlete’s foot and yeast outbreaks.
There’s more to the story. Finding a cure for cancer is one of medical researchers’ highest priorities, and it turns out that limonene may have a role to play. A pair of studies published by the University of Arizona suggest that limonene helps to regulate our immune system—an important factor in fighting cancer and many other diseases—but that it may also play a role in controlling the spread of certain cancers themselves.
General Mood: Anecdotally, many fans report that limonene lends a generalized feeling of uplift and well-being. That’s certainly the case with high-limonene cannabis strains, as we’ll see below….
How to Get Limonene from Cannabis
Limonene is one of the “primary terpenes,” and it’s abundant in cannabis. Strains with “lemon” in their name are a good indicator of limonene content; some others include:
Sour Diesel: An invigorating strain with a pungent scent, it’s known for long-lasting cerebral and energizing effects. Limonene uplift is evident in its noted anti-depressive qualities as well.
Jack Herer: A legendary strain among medical cannabis users, this strain—named for the legendary cannabis activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes—lends a blissful, clear-headed, and inspiring. Again, these qualities are all in accord with limonene’s noted mood-enhancing gifts.
White Fire OG: This strain can be great in social situations or as a creative stimulus. Some users like its anxiety- and depression-fighting qualities, and it’s popular with medical patients seeking relief from symptoms related to cancer treatments.