D-Limonene Terpene: What is Limonene, Its Uses and Benefits

D-Limonene Terpene 101: What it is, Effects, Benefits, and 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 (see a-bisabolol, d-limonene and beta ocimene).

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.

Cannabis Terpenes – 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.

Koan's Infographic on the terpene found in cannabis, d-limonene

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 who used 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 Your Cannabis Product

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 potentially contributes to many of the effects sought after by medical cannabis patients..

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, although anecdotal, that the stimulating effects of sativa cannabis strains are mainly due to their limonene content. [1] That being said, researchers and industry experts have begun identifying a cannabis variety or strain by more than just sativa or indica. If you’re not asking your budtender for a terpene analysis before making your purchase, check out our comprehensive terpene analysis guide to getting the most out of your cannabis experience.

Does Limonene Get You High?

Given that limonene occurs naturally in cannabis, you may be quick to assume that it [limonene] will result in feelings of intoxication or being high, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Although limonene packs a punch in terms of potential therapeutic properties, no evidence to date suggests that it is intoxicating. That said, if your cannabis product maintains a high concentration of limonene, you may experience what is referred to as the entourage effect.

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.

Cannabis Strains with the Highest Limonene Content

As you may have caught wind by now, modern cannabis strain names are essentially a colloquial approach for the industry to distinguish between various cannabis genetics. This is largely due to product variability from genetics, growing conditions, and extraction methods. Although a certificate of analysis may give insight to the product from which it was tested, it doesn’t necessarily represent your specific product’s contents unless the batch number on the COA matches your product’s.

That said, our strain suggestions for those seeking limonene-rich cannabis are not based solely on the name, but the fact that these genetic varieties are typically recognized for their high limonene concentration. Ideally, asking for a terpene analysis when making your cannabis purchase will better position you to ensure your specific product contains exactly what you’re searching for.

Banana OG

This limonene-dominant variety is reported to possess a sweet and earthy flavor profile with the majority of users describing its effects as both relaxing and euphoric.

Berry White

Sometimes referred to as “Barry White” this variety of cannabis is bred from the infamous Blueberry and White Widow varieties. Berry White users describe the taste as both “pine-like” and “slightly sour”. Much like Banana OG, the majority of reviews report the effects as relaxing.

Tahoe OG

This variety is actually dominant in myrcene, but typically maintains a noticeable limonene profile as well. This is usually recognized by its unique lemon and earthy flavors. Tahoe OG is often regarded as the ideal “lazy day” strain.

It is important to remember that most of the time, especially with cannabis flower, you simply don’t know exactly what you’re getting in your product. That’s why requesting things like a batch-specific terpene analysis before making your purchase is vital to fully understanding how certain cannabinoids and terpenes affect you. Not to mention, most budtenders will likely be impressed that you’re arming yourself with useful knowledge instead of relying on antiquated or anecdotal methods to determine what cannabis product works best for you.

How Koan Uses 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 limonene-dominant Create cordial has a one-to-one CBD/THC blend combined with limonene and other terpenes to help unlock your creative side (consider these cannabis strains for creativity).

The Future of Limonene

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

It’s apparent that limonene has many potentially beneficial properties and can be used on its own or in combination with cannabinoids. Still, there’s more to learn about this robust terpene, including its pharmacokinetic profile [how it works in your body], its safety profile, and how it synergizes with cannabinoids.

In the meantime, if you would like to incorporate a cannabis product that contains accurate and consistently dosed limonene — as well as other terpenes and cannabinoids — into your routine, ask for Koan Cordials at your local dispensary. If you find that they’re out of stock and you’re a California resident, then you can also order Koan Cordials online for delivery right to your front door.

This article is for informational purposes only and not to be used as medical advice. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet, medications, or daily routine. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.