Limonene, or D-limonene, is the second most common terpene in nature and is found in many cannabis strains.
Quick refresher: terpenes are fragrant oils found in plants (not just cannabis) that produce a unique taste and smell. Commercially, this well-named terpene adds a lemony flavor to fruit juices, soft drinks and baked goods, and adds a lemony scent to perfumes and cleaning products. In nature, plants produce limonene because it repels insects.
What aromas are associated with limonene?
True to its name, cannabis strains that are high in limonene smell like lemons and limes. Many citrus fruits (including oranges, lemons, mandarins, limes and grapefruits), as well as juniper, are high in limonene.
Keep in mind, each cannabis strain has many terpenes that work together to create a complex aroma profile.
What are the reported effects of limonene? The short answer: we don’t know. There have been no scientific studies that link consuming limonene-centric cannabis strains to a specific effect.
There have been a few studies that investigated the effects of citrus oil on both mice and humans.
Citrus oil (which contains limonene) was shown in a few studies (read more here, or here) to have a calming effect on mice. In a very small study involving humans, (read all about it here) 12 patients were exposed to lemon essential oil and 9 out of the 12 experienced an elevated mood.
Research on cannabis and its related effects is ongoing and over time, more information on terpenes such as limonene will become widely available. It’s important to balance any perceived positive effects associated with limonene with the reported negative effects of cannabis consumption.
The bottom line: there isn’t enough evidence to support any claims linking limonene content in a particular strain to any specific effect, however you can use a strain’s terpene profile to choose your favorite aroma or taste.