The Limonene Terpene: Everything You Need to Know

As a cannabis consumer, it's essential to know about the various compounds in the cannabis plant. These include cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic oils that give cannabis its distinctive smell and flavor. They also play a role in the plant's effects on the body and mind. One of the most commonly known is limonene.

Even if you've never heard of it, you've probably experienced limonene. This terpene is found in the rinds of citrus fruits, as well as in many other plants. It's what gives lemons and oranges their distinct smell. Limonene is also one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, making it a great topic to learn about.

What are Cannabis Terpenes?

If you're a cannabis user who wants a deep understanding of the flavor and effects of cannabis, get to know your new besties: Terpenes (AKA "terps'). Terps are aromatic compounds that give your herb that amazing nose and flavor.

Terpenes are located on the trichomes of female cannabis plants. They not only contribute to that marvelous smell and taste, but they also protect plant health. For example, some terpenes attract insects that help spread pollen, while others repel herbivores and safeguard cannabis from environmental harm by boosting immune system function.

While the science of terpenes is new and evolving, they may also provide a range of benefits that we're just beginning to understand. The most critical function of terps is working synergistically with other compounds to modulate cannabis effects. This concept is known as the "entourage effect," and it refers to how different compounds in cannabis work together to produce certain effects. Limonene and other terpenes may enhance or diminish the effects of THC and CBD.

Now that we know a little more about terpenes let's take a closer look at limonene terpene.

What Is Limonene?

Ever peel an orange and get a delicious whiff of aromatic citrus? That's the terpene limonene. But, of course, we've known about limonene for a while now. It's also found in pine and mint; we use it for everything from flavoring to cosmetics to cleaning products and pesticides. You can also find limonene in pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies.

Limonene occurs naturally as two isomers: limonene-alpha and limonene-beta. The alpha form is more common in nature, while the beta form is found in citrus fruits. Both forms have similar properties and effects.

While that might make you think that all strains with a zesty citrus fragrance have limonene, slow your roll. It's not quite like that. Unless you've got the nose of a trained sniffing dog, your sense of smell is likely, not sharp enough to isolate limonene among the other terps and flavonoids in cannabis. So if you want to be sure, it comes down to these three letters: COA (Certificate of Analysis).

Certificate of Analysis

All cannabis sold in a licensed dispensary must include a COA from a certified testing lab. COAs must list cannabinoid content and safety information, but COAs from brands that understand the importance of terps may go that extra step and include the terpene content. Reading COAs is also a great way to learn about the other cannabinoids and terpenes in that strain you've got your eye on. Just ask your budtender if you can check it out. COAs for the win!

Another reason to check those COAs is that every cannabis strain has a different cannabinoid and terpene profile that work synergistically in the entourage effect. This effect explains why different cultivars with the same THC percentage don't feel the same. Some attribute this to beneficial codependent effects. By way of example, limonene may help decrease THC-related anxiety spikes in full spectrum products.

Limonene Benefits

Limonene is kind of like a superhero terpene. It might not be faster than a speeding bullet or leap tall buildings in a single bound, but it does have quite a few uses, such as:

  • Antimicrobial effects.
  • Antifungal properties.
  • Antioxidant properties.
  • Antibacterial properties.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers found that limonene may also help treat a host of other health issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain Relief
  • Heartburn
  • Skin Repair
  • Metabolic/Heart Health
  • Cancer Treatment/Prevention
  • Nausea and Pain During Pregnancy

As you can see, limonene has many benefits, with more being discovered all the time.

Limonene Effects

Limonene has some pretty fantastic effects, including:

  • Elevated mood: it offers mood elevating effects by reducing anxiety.
  • Stress relief: may help reduce anxiety by lowering cortisol levels.
  • Pain relief: may help reduce pain by reducing inflammation.
  • Alertness: may increase alertness and energy levels by stimulating the nervous system.

Cannabis Strains High in Limonene

While THC levels may push 30% in some heavy-hitting cultivars, limonene is only present in some strains and typically does not exceed 2%. So if you're looking for cannabis with limonene, Sativa dominant hybrids are an excellent place to start.

Or you could start with this short list of mainstream strains below and end the search before it begins.

Durban Poison

This cultivar is as close to a pure sativa as you can get. Named for the South African port city of Durban, this international star is famed for its sweetness and creative energy. A functional high, Durban Poison can lift you up and keep you up on those busy work days and busier play days.


Another Sativa, Tangie, is a cross of California Orange and Skunk-1. Tangie is a sequel to the hit strain Tangerine Dream, popular in the 90s. The heavy citrus nose smacks hard with an aroma unmistakably tangerine.

Super Lemon Haze

We got this sativa-dominant Hybrid from Lemon Skunk crossed with Super Silver Haze. The nose is lemon for days, sweet, and zesty. And the flavor's just like Lemonheads candy. This energetic high might not be the best choice if you're already wound tight.

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake, AKA Pink Cookies, got its name from Jungle Boys for its frosty resin vanilla cake nose. Seed Junky Genetics minted this rare phenotype when they pollinated a mother Triangle Kush with Animal Mints. Wedding Cake took 1st prize for Best Hybrid Flower at the 2018 SoCal High Times Medical Cannabis Cup.


No, this strain won't cause a meltdown. It's a dreamy, uplifting Sativa with a unique flavorful citrus profile and lime-sherbet aroma that leaves you relaxed and happy.

Jack Herer

Jack Herer is a true old-school Sativa Hybrid. Known simply as "Jack," it is almost as legendary as the man they named it after, Jack Herer, renowned cannabis activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes.

Sensi Seeds created Jack by crossing a Haze Hybrid with a Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk cross. While renowned as a Sativa, Jack is actually a 55% Sativa "leaning" Hybrid. Jack Herer is described as a clear-headed high with cerebral and elevated effects, leaving users feeling creative and blissful.

Berry White

A rare indica strain with high limonene potential, everyone loves Berry White's ("BW") happy and stress-free high. Named for its smooth smoke and dark berry flavor, BW was put on the map when Green Beanz Seedz crossed Blueberry and White Widow. The effects are balanced in body and mind, without the heavy couch lock many indicas put on you.

Lemon OG

An intense, fruity flavor and 20% THC make Lemon OG a go to for anyone who wants to reduce stress and anxiety. Created by DNA Genetics, Lemon OG has a strong lemon fuel taste and nose.


With its heavy citrus aroma, this cross between Cinderella 99 and Vortex is a great mood booster. In the right hands, THC content can hit 25%.


A cross between Mass Super Skunk and Chemdog, this strain is renowned for its limonene-derived citrus punch. At 15% THC, Gisele produces a relaxing, cerebral high.

On the boutique side of things, there are a few more high limonene strains:

While these limonene rich cannabis strains are a bit harder to find, Panacea Wellness carries them all. And if you order online, their platform is built to search by terpene. Just click the box for limonene or any other terpene you're interested in, and the page populates with every strain that has your terp.

Get To Know Limonene At Panacea

There are over 400 terpenes in cannabis. Limonene is just one of them, but it's a true superhero and a great place to start this journey.

Panacea Wellness invites you to visit any of our locations on your terp quest. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to answer whatever questions you still have, and we always provide that coveted Certificate of Analysis.

If you're shopping at home, fire up that rad terp search function on the online menu, pick your terpene, and find the right strain!