What is the terpene Limonene?

What is the terpene Limonene?
May 17, 2024
2 min read

Limonene (formally d-Limonene) is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. It has an orange peel aroma and imparts a citrus fragrance to cannabis alongside other flavour compounds. Limonene is believed to contribute to the effects of cannabis in a phenomenon known as the “Entourage effect”. It is widely distributed in nature and can be found in citrus, maples, pines, chamomiles, ginger, and many other plants. In this article we aim to cover everything you need to know about the cannabis terpene limonene.

What is the terpene Limonene?

What does limonene smell like?

Pure d-limonene has an unmistakable orange peel aroma. In combination with other terpenes and flavour compounds found in cannabis that smell like citrus (such as valencene, terpinene, and flavonoids), limonene-dominant strains may exhibit an aroma more similar to other types of citrus.

What is Limonene used for?

The cannabis plant produces d-limonene to ward off herbivores. It is commonly used industrially in its pure form as an effective solvent of low toxicity. It is also commonly used in the fragrance and food industry to impart a citrusy flavour or aroma.

What are the properties of Limonene?

Limonene is commonly associated with strains of cannabis that produce effects well-suited for daytime use. While research into the effects of limonene on cannabis medicine is minimal, preliminary research has shown that certain monoterpenes including d-limonene cross the Blood-Brain-Barrier in mice. This implies that it may have medical or minor psychoactive effects. It has long been thought that terpenes interact with cannabinoids in a phenomenon known as the ‘Entourage Effect’; however it is not yet known how this occurs.

If you are curious about the health implications of limonene, ask your prescriber at your next consultation.

Where is Limonene found in nature?

Limonene is one of the most abundant terpenes in nature.

D-limonene can be found in:

  • Citrus peel
  • Maple
  • Pines
  • Firs
  • Cedars
  • Ginger
  • Chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Red pepper
  • Anise
  • Fennel
  • Blackcurrant
  • Carrot
  • Plum
  • Cannabis

What strains contain the most Limonene?

In cannabis, limonene is commonly associated with “orange” and “citrus” strains, as well as being a dominant terpene in the “OGs and Gas” and the “Dessert” Emerald Cup classes of cultivars.

  • “OGs and Gas” include OG Kush, Chemdawg, Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Glue.
  • “Dessert” class strains include Bubba Kush, GSCs, Gelatos, and Cakes.
  • Limonene may also be associated with the more citrusy cultivars in the “Jacks & Haze” and “Tropical & Floral” class.
  • “Jacks and Haze” includes Trainwreck, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, and Super Lemon Haze.
  • “Tropical & Floral” contains strains like Super Skunk, Hawaiian, In The Pines, and Dream Queen.

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For the extra curious:

What temperature does limonene vaporise at?

Limonene has a boiling point of 176°C, although it begins to vaporise below that temperature. As a monoterpene, d-limonene is one of the first terpenes to vaporise when cannabis is heated.

What type of terpene is Limonene?

Chemical structure of d-limonene

Terpenes are grouped according to the number of carbon atoms they contain. Limonene is classed as a monoterpene as it contains 2 isoprene units (building blocks of cannabis). Monoterpenes are highly volatile and evaporate at low temperatures compared to other types of terpene. They are the most common form of terpene found in fresh cannabis, but due to their volatile nature, they evaporate more than other types of terpenes in aged samples, and react together during the curing process to form more sesquiterpenes and diterpenes.

If you would like to know more about the terpenes present in your flower, you may find the CoA (Certificate of Analysis) on Catalyst or Cannareviews. If you have any questions about the health effects of limonene, be sure to ask your prescriber.

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Please note that this blog was not written by a licensed medical practitioner and therefore is not providing medical advice. We do not endorse the use of cannabis or any other illicit drugs. Like any medication, cannabis has potential negative side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. For the latest information on cannabis prescription and use, please visit the TGA website. If you are considering cannabis as a treatment option, we encourage you to consult with a licensed healthcare professional.

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