Limonene is a terpene (technically a monoterpene) that helps provide a strong citrus aroma to lemons, oranges, grapefruits, limes, and other citrus fruits. Found in the rinds of citruses, it is the second most common terpene in nature and also the third most common terpene in cannabis.

Did you know: there are different forms of limonene (which typically refers to d-limonene), such as perillyl alcohol and a-limonene.

Aromatherapy, mainly through the use of diffusers, has long lauded the mood-boosting effects of limonene– positioning it as both an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and anti-depressant.

This terpene is not limited by its form factor, though. It is used in food, beverages, perfumes, soaps, cleaners, and can even strip paint. While high concentrations can lead to skin irritation, proper dilution makes limonene safe.

Chemists can convert limonene into carvone. Remarkably, modern chemistry allows for the transformation of this citrus flavor to mint. Carvone is contained in spearmint and also found in trace amounts in cannabis.

Limonene effects in cannabis

The aromatherapeutic effects noted above also help describe what this terpene brings to the cannabis experience. Overall, limonene helps promote an uplifted and elevating mood, free of anxiety, as evidenced by the strains that strongly express it.

Cinex is a sativa high in limonene.
Some Cinex phenotypes express limonene as over half of their terpene profile.

Various strains contain high amounts of this terpene. Both sativas and indicas will express this citrusy terpene, allowing almost all strains to reap the benefits of limonene. What makes a strain a Sativa vs Indica is not from a single terpene, but rather the holistic effect of all the terpenes it expresses. This entourage effect allows for limonene to shine in a wide variety of cannabis strains.

Berry White is an indica high in limonene.
The terpene percentage of limonene in Berry White can be nearly 50%.

Limonene helps give sativas an exhilarating and energizing buzz. Hybrids tend to have mood-elevating effects enhanced by limonene. Relaxing indicas high in limonene counteract the potential for lower moods from increased sedative terpenes such as myrcene.

High Limonene Strains

If you’re looking for common strains high in limonene, look no further than the list below.

High limonene strains
Cinex, Berry White, Strawberry Banana, Banana OG, Purple Hindu Kush, White Cookies, Super Sour Diesel, Cherry OF, Giesel, Sunset Sherbet, Quantum Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Wedding Cake, White Fire (WiFi) OG, and Do-Si-Dos are all high in the cannabis terpene limonene.

Limonene Benefits

The anti-cancer effects of limonene have been extensively studied.

Research has indicated this terpene may be specifically helpful for:

Since the citrusy terpene has been shown to accumulate in fatty tissue, it makes sense that it has been useful for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and other tumors found in fatty regions.

The anti-inflammatory effects of this organic compound are well documented, especially in its ability to help curb colitis— a phenomenon that seems to occur due to its ability to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Like with other hydrocarbons, D-limonene also has antioxidant properties, stemming from its impact on complex signaling pathways. These antioxidant properties help with the immune system by assisting with the removal of free radicals throughout the body.

This anti-oxidant terpene may even also reduce hunger and appetite through its aroma alone. It may also help diabetics with high blood sugar levels. Patients who have experienced a stroke or hypertension may also find benefits from limonene since it can decrease systolic blood pressure.

Confirming years of anecdotes, this pungent compound has also been shown to help with anxiety relief through both inhalation (aromatherapy) and oral administrations. Adding to relaxation, it has also been shown to have muscle relaxant properties. It has also been shown to help with other disorders that are classically associated with stress like gastric disorders including heartburn and gastric acid reflux.

rind of an orange

Limonene has also been shown to be a highly effective anti-viral– reducing viral infectivity by 100%, an efficient anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. Gives a whole new meaning to the lemon-fresh-clean smell, huh?

The essential oil of a limonene-containing-fruit (Amomum tsaoko) bas been shown to be an insect repellant, even though other research has shown that it may attract insects.

When inhaled, like with cannabis, this terpene may help with asthma. Don’t get too overzealous on that one, though; terpenes such as limonene, alpha-pinene, and isoprene can cause irritation to the upper respiratory system.

A portion of the UK population is allergic to limonene and linalool when applied to the skin. Terpenes can also degrade to other harmful chemicals under high temperatures. Readers are urged to caution with dabbing and vaping cannabis with excess terpenes.


This laundry list of limonene benefits is extended to cannabis strains high in limonene and helps to explain why cannabis has been widely regarded as a panacea, qualifying as an effective treatment for a whole host of medical conditions. There are 100s of other terpenes found in the cannabis plant, each with their own medical efficacy. These terpenes compliment the other cannabinoids to create a synergistic effect known as the entourage effect. Be sure to read up on the other terpenes found in cannabis and learn how cannabis can be used to treat hundreds of conditions.

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