Terpenes: The Health Effects of Limonene
Updated: Sep 19
Limonene is a very recognizable terpene found in cannabis, along with other plants. (If you’re not sure what that means yet, don’t worry – we’ll be going over in this article!). While our understanding of cannabis is growing, public knowledge about terpenes is still very limited. So let’s dive into this one: What are the effects of limonene, and why are terpenes so important?
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a chemical compound found not just in cannabis, but in all plants. They are what is responsible for a plant’s scent and flavour. Terpenes are why some smells help us relax, while others give us an energy or a mood boost. They do more than just make things smell nice to humans though; terpenes in wild plants are what help attract pollinators like bees or wasps, or warn potential predators that they’re not safe to eat. We have identified over 20,000 terpenes, and over 120 of them are found in cannabis. Plus, as we’re learning, many terpenes have different effects on human beings.
What is Limonene?
Limonene, as the name suggests, is prominently found in citrus fruits, especially lemon and orange rind. It’s also found in juniper, rosemary, turmeric and ginger, as well as plenty of other shrubs and spices - but it’s most concentrated in orange peels.
As you’d expect, it has a bright, fruity and citrusy scent and flavour. Limonene is a popular ingredient in many cosmetics and household cleaners for its clean, fresh scent, and is also used as a flavour additive in foods.
Effects of Limonene
Like many other terpenes, limonene doesn’t just smell and taste great! It also comes with a host of health benefits. While we can’t say for 100% sure how effective these benefits are in humans, we do have a wealth of studies that were performed on mice that showed the effects of limonene have great potential.
Some of the beneficial effects of limonene are:
Anti-anxiety and stress relief: Limonene is known to have stress- and anxiety-relieving properties, and many relaxing tea blends will include citrus for this reason. It’s not just a relaxant, however: Limonene helps boost overall mood, helping to fight depression as well.
Antifungal & antibacterial: Limonene has been found to inhibit growth of bacteria and fungi in clinical settings.
Anti-inflammatory: Studies done in mice show that limonene has great potential to reduce inflammation and fight free radical damage within the body.
Cancer fighting properties: One study of people with breast cancer showed a 22% decrease in breast tumour cell expression after following a treatment of 2grams limonene daily for up to six weeks.
May prevent heart disease: One study done in mice showed that limonene treatment resulted in improved blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are all factors in developing heart disease.
Gastric health: Limonene has been used to treat and prevent cases of heartburn and acid reflux, and is even being used to help dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones.
The Bottom Line
While limonene isn’t often the dominant terpene in cannabis, this potent little terpene makes itself known! We’re eagerly awaiting more research-backed information about the health effects of limonene. If you are too, why not check out our other terpene-related articles while you wait?