There are more than 100 naturally occurring terpenes in the cannabis plant. You don’t need to know them all, but there are some you should know, like limonene.
Citrus fruits are the most cheerful residents of the produce section. Just try to look at a lemon or an orange and not smile. It’s nearly impossible. Bright, radiant, and downright effervescent, citrus naturally harvests good feelings and sunny dispositions, one zesty peel at a time.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that limonene, a cannabis terpene strain with a distinctive citrus aroma that hits you right in the nose, is most associated with mood-lifting motivation and stress-relieving relaxation. As we talked about in a recent blog, terpenes are the aromatic molecules responsible for the unique aromas wafting from each cannabis cultivar.
Limonene originates in the rinds of oranges, lemons, limes, and even in some pine trees, making its way into foods and all-natural remedies for decades. So, while it’s no “secret ingredient,” let’s scratch-and-sniff the science behind the scent and find out why customers should consider exploring cannabis products bursting with limonene.
The Anatomy of Limonene & Its Potential Benefits
The second-most abundant terpene found in nature, limonene, occurs in the flowers of the cannabis plant. Along with the aforementioned citrus fruits and pine, limonene also wafts forth from juniper, rosemary, celery, fennel, caraway, and mint. But when it comes to cannabis, limonene is mostly all about that citrus punch.
Limonene is merely one of many terpenes floating on the breeze. In the world of cannabis, limonene-rich strains include Lemon Diesel, Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Haze, Berry White, Jack Herer, OG Kush (along with other OG cultivars), and more.
As is typically the case with terpenes, precise levels of limonene tend to vary between cannabis strains—with some strains expressing relatively high limonene levels and others offering far more nuanced citrusy notes. However, no matter the levels of limonene in the terpene profile, the potential benefits remain the same. With limonene, it’s all about an improved mood and the overall feeling of relief from occasional anxiety and day-to-day stress.
Lab studies indicate that when consumed as an essential oil or inhaled as a vapor, limonene has the power to potentially reduce occurrences of stress and frustration. Limonene could also improve overall mood and help the brain clear those occasional blue feelings. One study in particular demonstrated limonene vapor as a potential pathway toward achieving mindful balance and emotional wellbeing.
How Limonene Brightens Mood & Relieves Stress
The benefits of limonene stem from how this particular terpene interacts with serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals in your brain that set your mood and trigger everyday instances of typical stress. Let’s take a quick look at mood and stress, then see what happens when we squeeze some limonene into the equation.
Mood is an overarching, general feeling, often without an identifiable cause. When your prevailing psychological state (your mood) leans negative, either temporarily or habitually, it can do a real number on your everyday life—trickling into how you feel physically and manifesting into actual, tangible discomfort. And then there’s good old-fashioned stress. Like an uninvited guest or nosy neighbor, stress always seems to show up at the worst possible time.
The neurotransmitters buzzing around our brains govern our general mood with chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals boast different functions: Serotonin works with emotional processing, and dopamine conjures the pleasurable feelings associated with activities like eating a good meal. A 2013 study showed that limonene potentially increases the availability of serotonin while also decreasing stress, frustration, and occasional anxiety. Meanwhile, another study from the same year showed limonene positively affected dopamine levels, as well.
Whether limonene merely stimulates the olfactory system or directly affects brain cells in its quest to impact mood and stress remains up for debate. Either way you slice it, limonene certainly sparks a positive response.
Limonene is a tasty terpene that delivers citrusy notes in cannabis products. But the science shows it could also help you realize that an enlightened mood is more than a pipe dream.