D-Limonene Terpene 101: What it Is, Effects, Benefits & Uses

Limonene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give plants their distinct aromas. They also have beneficial properties and can interact with CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.

As its name suggests, limonene has a lemon-like smell and is used in household items, foods and drinks, and other products. It’s also been shown to relieve stress and other issues.

Here’s what you need to know about limonene’s effects, potential benefits, uses, and role in cannabis.

What is Limonene?

Limonene is the second-most common terpene in nature. You might also see it referred to as “d-limonene,” which is its main chemical form.
Limonene is found in the rinds of oranges, lemons, tangerines, and other citrus fruits, and in other plants, including cannabis. It has a sweet, citrusy aroma and many potential health benefits.

Limonene Effects

Although most studies of the terpene limonene are limited to animals, the findings suggest that it may have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-anxiety, and other effects.

Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, and Analgesic

Like most terpenes, limonene has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, one study in mice with inflammatory bowel disease found that limonene had a positive effect by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

More importantly, a study of older adults found that limonene capsules significantly reduced inflammation after 56 days. Limonene has also been shown to have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.

Anti-anxiety, Antidepressant, and Anti-Stress

Studies in mice have shown that limonene can lower anxiety and stress and may have antidepressant effects.
Most notably, a study of 12 depressed patients found that treatment with the fragrance of citrus (which is rich in limonene) significantly reduced their doses of antidepressants, with 9 people completely going off the medication.

The treatment also reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stimulated immune system function.

Acid Reflux

Two studies found that limonene capsules relieved heartburn and gastric reflux in people with chronic heartburn or gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).


Research also suggests that limonene may have anticancer effects. One study found that people who consumed citrus fruit peel, which is high in limonene, were less likely to get skin cancer, with higher consumption linked to a larger reduction in cancer risk.

In another study, women diagnosed with breast cancer that took limonene saw a 22% reduction in cyclin D1, a protein involved in cancer progression.

Other Effects

Limonene may also have antibacterial and antifungal properties and has been shown to protect against stomach ulcers in rats and lower elevated blood sugar and blood lipid levels in obese mice.

Another interesting study found that toothpaste infused with 5% limonene helped remove smoking tooth stains.

Limonene Benefits & Uses

Although limonene has many potential health benefits, its most sought-after effects are stress, anxiety, and heartburn relief.
That’s why limonene is used in aromatherapy — the practice of inhaling essential plant oils or applying them topically to alleviate stress and anxiety, promote sleep, and support overall well-being.

Additionally, limonene is sold in liquid or capsule supplements for relieving acid reflux and anxiety.

Thanks to its pleasant fragrance, limonene is also added to soaps, perfumes, shampoos, and other cosmetic items, as well as cleaning products.

Meanwhile, in the food and beverage industry, limonene is used as a flavoring in sodas, candy, fruit juice, gum, ice cream, and other items.

Limonene has industrial uses as well, as a cleaning agent for removing paint, oil, stains, tar, and grease, and as a natural, environmentally friendly pesticide.

Limonene in Cannabis

Limonene is one of many terpenes that give cannabis its aroma. This explains why strains rich in limonene tend to have a notable orange or lemon scent, although it depends on which other terpenes are present.

More importantly, limonene contributes to cannabis’ health effects.

For example, some cannabis users look for limonene-rich cannabis strains to help them relax, unwind, and relieve stress, which isn’t surprising given its anxiolytic, anti-stress, and antidepressant properties.

Additionally, it’s widely believed that the stimulating effects of Sativa cannabis strains are mainly due to their limonene content. [1]

Limonene and the Entourage Effect

Like other terpenes, limonene also plays a role in the “entourage effect” — the evidence-based theory that terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other cannabis substances work in synergy to produce greater effects than the sum of their parts.

Thanks to this effect, cannabis preparations that combine multiple cannabinoids and terpenes are more effective than isolated CBD or THC on their own.

Numerous studies provide evidence of the entourage effect, from something as simple as THC providing greater pain relief alongside CBD to terpenes enhancing the effects of cannabinoids.

In the case of limonene, researchers believe that it might boost the anxiolytic, sedative, and anti-stress effects of cannabidiol (CBD) by increasing the levels of serotonin and dopamine — two brain chemicals that CBD can interact with.

How We Use the Terpene Limonene

We believe there’s great potential in the botanical synergies between cannabinoids and terpenes. That’s why combining these herbal compounds is at the core of Koan’s approach.

Each of our cordials provides a unique blend of cannabinoids and terpenes to utilize the entourage effect and facilitate a specific experience.

Thanks to its uplifting and relaxing properties, we incorporate varying amounts of limonene into our cordials. For example, our “Create” cordial has a one-to-one CBD/THC blend combined with limonene and other terpenes to help unlock your creative side.

The Future of Limonene

Medical researchers are optimistic about the therapeutic potential of limonene and other terpenes.

It’s apparent that limonene has many beneficial properties and can be used on its own or in combination with cannabinoids. Better yet, limonene is safe and relatively easy to obtain from natural sources.

Still, there’s more to learn, including how limonene works and synergizes with cannabinoids.

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