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Terpene 101: What is Limonene and What Are Its Benefits and Effects

Limonene is a terpene commonly found in citrus fruits. It may be helpful in boosting your mood, metabolism, and even reducing heartburn! That’s not all though... 

Reading time: 10 Minutes
There’s just something about citrus fruits that makes us feel alert and alive. Maybe for you it’s a fresh glass of orange juice in the morning. Or perhaps you prefer a tart lemon bar dessert. Well, a big part of that enjoyment comes from the terpene Limonene.


Limonene is one of those terpenes that’s exciting and invigorating. It improves your alertness and it puts a certain pep in your step. It’s a great addition to several different products and it’s got a surprisingly large number of benefits.

What Are Terpenes?

If you’ve been with us for a while, this should be old news to you. But if you’re just now joining the Abstrax family then this will give you a good baseline to understand exactly what Limonene is. Limonene is first and foremost, a terpene. But what are terpenes?

Terpenes are hydrocarbons. Moving on!

Terpenes are hydrocarbons, which is just a fancy way of saying they’re compounds that have both hydrogen and carbon. In the simplest sense though, terpenes are the building blocks of scent and taste. Most plants and some insects naturally produce terpenes. 


People used to think that essential oils were the purest form of a scent--think peppermint oil, rose oil, tea tree oil, etc. But those oils are actually a mix of several different terpenes. If you refine essential oils even further you can isolate specific terpenes for maximum purity and benefits. 


And each terpene has its own unique scent and variety of benefits.

What is Limonene?

Limonene is an incredibly common terpene. You can find limonene in lemons, limes, oranges and it’s often used in candy, cosmetics, cleaning products, and it’s even been used as an insect repellent. 


You’ll often see it referred to as D-Limonene, which is just its specific chemical form. You may be thinking that it sounds pretty simple, but this terpene has some surprising benefits.

Health Benefits of Limonene

We’ll be honest. There’s still a TON of research being done on the benefits of limonene. That’s why we think it’s so exciting! So these are just a few of the more scientifically backed benefits—

Limonene is an Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant

Specifically, limonene can lessen inflammation and increase antioxidant levels in your digestive tract. Inflammation is one of your body's natural responses to stress and trauma. But too much inflammation can cause a host of other issues.

A study from 2017 showed that when rats with UC (ulcerative colitis) were given D-Limonene, the damage from UC was greatly reduced. The increased levels of antioxidants in their system was thought to be a result of limonene as well! 

Limonene Can Reduce Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux

Limonene against Heartburn

Until you’ve given up your favorite spicy snack from fear of provoking the heartburn dragon...you just won’t understand that particular heartbreak.

Luckily, D-Limonene has the ability to coat your esophagus and neutralize stomach acid. And it doesn’t stop there…


It helps promote normal peristalsis--your body's ability to push food in the stomach and intestines down rather than back up--which can reduce gastroesophageal reflux disease. 


So there’s still hope for spicy food lovers--phew!

Limonene Helps Dissolve Gallstones

The same study that tested D-Limonene’s ability to reduce heartburn also showed that because D-Limonene is “a solvent of cholesterol, d-limonene has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones.”


This is great news for those suffering from gallstones!

Limonene Can Ease Metabolic Disorders and Promote Weight Loss

This terpene plays an interesting role when it comes to the way your body absorbs and processes nutrients. Specifically, D-Limonene can ease metabolic disorders. These disorders come with a host of dangerous conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and more. 


However, several studies have shown that Limonene can help people manage these conditions. Rats that were fed a high fat diet showed reduced blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate once limonene was supplemented. 


In that same study a separate group of rats had their blood pressure artificially increased. However, limonene was able to reverse some of the damage caused by high blood pressure. 


Those items alone are enough to help people start shedding weight, but in yet another study limonene was shown to reduce appetite AND help break down fat cells. 

Limonene Can Soothe Skin Inflammation and Promote Wound Healing

Skin issues come in all different shapes and sizes, but a good portion of them also come with inflammation. Luckily, because limonene is such a powerful anti-inflammatory, it’s great for soothing inflamed skin and healing wounds.

In one study, when Limonene was applied to the skin of mice, it reduced rashes, inflammation, and overall damage. Skin injuries were also improved because the terpene helped increase new cells and blood vessels.

Limonene Can Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Ever wonder why certain smells brighten your day and put you in a better mood? It’s probably because of terpenes. More specifically, limonene has been known to lessen anxiety and stress. That sure puts US in a better mood!

Terpenes for anxiety

It’s important to note though, that a lot of the research into this particular benefit used limonene in combination with other compounds. But some studies do show that when rats are administered limonene they show less stress and improved activity. 

Limonene Potentially Has Anti-Cancer Properties

As a powerful antioxidant, limonene battles the effects of free radicals which damage DNA and can cause cancer. While that’s no guarantee that you won’t get cancer, it does lower your risk of acquiring cancer. 


But what about people who already have cancer?

This terpene can boost the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments. One study showed that Limonene was able to help reduce prostate cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Another study showed that breast cancer patients who were administered limonene had diminished cyclin D1--a protein that stimulates cancer cell growth. 

While more research needs to be done, this is VERY exciting news!

Limonene May Boost the Immune System

Flu season is upon us and we could all use an immune system boost! Luckily, limonene might be the answer. 

In several studies, healthy mice treated with limonene showed significantly more antibodies after being exposed to foreign antigens. Also, other studies show that under certain conditions limonene is able to increase white blood cells.

How Can Your Brand Use Limonene Terpenes?

If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of limonene for your products (or even just yourself) then consider these options--

Beverages

If you want to create a unique thirst-quenching experience that your customers can’t find anywhere else, consider adding limonene! 

You might consider using limonene for a new signature cocktail--the bright citrus scent of limonene pairs VERY well with hoppy beers, gin, and even tequila. Or maybe you want to give your customers a temporary mood enhancement by adding limonene to your new line of energy drinks. 

Honestly, the possibilities are endless!

Food

Whether you’re creating the perfect citrus candy, or trying to add a depth of flavor to a fine-dining experience, limonene can take your edibles to the next level.


We’re thinking bright vinaigrette dressings, tangy key-lime cheesecakes, or maybe even a fresh ceviche with just the right amount of citrus. Limonene can create that perfect mouth-watering citrus experience that doesn’t overwhelm your palette. 


Is anyone else hungry now?

Skin Care

With its ability to soothe inflammation and promote wound healing, limonene is the perfect terpene to add to your skin care products.


Consider adding it to toners or masks meant to brighten skin tone. Limonenes anti-inflammatory properties will help reduce redness.


If you’re wanting to develop a skin balm or salve then limonene can be an excellent addition! Generally these products are designed for skin that needs some EXTRA love. Because limonene promotes healing it can pump up the healing power of any balm or salve.

Cleaning Products + Insecticides

There’s a reason why so many people think of citrus flavors when they think of cleaning products. That’s because a lot of citrus fruits were used for cleaning back in the day! But did you know a good part of the cleaning power of the fruits comes from Limonene?


Not only does it smell fresh and clean, limonene is a natural solvent that’s capable of cutting through grease and dirt.  Plus, if you’re looking for a natural way to keep bugs at bay, you should consider limonene!


Make sure you do your research first, but for the most part limonene is a safe pesticide for ornamental plants with thick, waxy leaves. And you only need a 1% limonene solution to do the trick!

Diffusers

Limonene’s mood elevating properties can be utilized the fastest when inhaled. So if you have a product that’s designed to smell good or to be inhaled (think oil diffusers, candles, wax melts, etc.) then limonene would be a great, flavorful addition.

Limonene and Cannabis Products

Because limonene is naturally found in many cannabis strains, a lot of people assume that limonene actually contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But, as we’ve already covered, limonene can be found in LOTS of plants and our terpenes are 100% cannabis free and have no psychoactive properties


However...limonene does play a pivotal role in the effects that certain cannabis strains have. Cannabis strains that are high in limonene are known for their uplifting, energetic qualities. Some of those strains include OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, and Green Crack


A lot of manufacturers that create cannabis products make the mistake of JUST relying on the cannabis plant by itself to imbue their products with flavor. The problem with that though, is that cannabis buds can lose their trichomes and terpenes during the manufacturing process. This means less flavor and less powerful effects.


Luckily, adding our terpenes back in can protect the flavor you’re going for. Not only that, but our terpenes can help make sure that the intended effects are just as powerful as you want them to be! 

Potential Side-Effects of Limonene

Limonene is non-toxic, however you should always use caution whenever adding a new substance to your products. There have been studies that showed limonene acted as a skin irritant in some rats, but this was considered irrelevant to humans because of certain biological differences. 


Limonene is considered safe for human use, but there have been reports of allergies. As always, our advice is to start low and go slow


Start by adding a small amount of limonene to a product (remember that our products are VERY concentrated), and if you don’t have any reactions then consider adding more. However, you may find that a little goes a long way. 

Conclusion

Limonene is the fresh pick-me-up flavor that we could all use to get us started in the morning or to help us keep moving through a busy work day. It’s packed full of useful properties and fabulous flavor, and we can’t wait to see all the different ways that you use our terpenes in your products!


If you’re curious about adding Limonene to your products then contact us today. We’d love to partner with you and help create the next wave of uplifting, energizing products.


If you’ve already tried and loved our Limonene isolate or any of our Limonene blends, then drop us a line on our Instagram. Feel free to tag us in your posts for a chance to be featured on our stories--or maybe even on our blog!

Summary

  • Limonene is a naturally occurring terpene found in citrus fruits.
  • This terpene has lots of beneficial qualities including being an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, it can reduce heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux, it can dissolve gallstones, ease metabolic disorders and promote weight loss, soothe skin inflammation, promote wound healing, ease anxiety, boost the immune system, and possibly possess anti-cancer properties. 
  • Limonene is particularly useful in beverages, food, skin-care, cleaning products, insecticides, and diffuser oils.
  • Cannabis strains that are naturally high in limonene are notorious for their energizing, uplifting qualities.

Note: Terpene benefits are “known” therapeutic benefits and are not meant to be interpreted as drug claims approved by the FDA.

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