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Have you ever wondered what gives lemons, limes, and oranges their distinctive aroma? That’s all thanks to limonene terpene.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that different types of plants have, including cannabis. In fact, there is usually a high concentration of these compounds in cannabis that the two have become closely associated with each other. When people hear “terpene,” they immediately think of weed.
Scientific researchers have long established that limonene terpene effects are protective in nature, warding off insects that could harm plants. But perhaps, limonene's effects on the immune system when consumed in certain quantities could be this terpene’s crowning glory.
For now, though, cannabis users may already be enjoying limonene’s benefits.
While there is no formal or official testing yet on limonene terpenes' effects on humans when it comes to therapeutic benefits, especially as it relates to cannabis consumption, many experts agree that there is much potential here.
Here are some of the observed effects of limonene terpene, based on various human and animal studies.
When limonene vapor is inhaled, test subjects show a marked increase in dopamine and serotonin levels in certain areas of the brain associated with OCD, anxiety, and depression.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for how humans feel pleasure. Serotonin, meanwhile, is the hormone that keeps our feeling of well-being, mood, and happiness stable.
It is yet to be established though if limonene directly affects the brain cells or merely the olfactory system.
Limonene extract made available as a 1000-mg capsule has been found to have a neutralizing effect on gastric acid. It is also designed to encourage normal peristaltic activity.
Additionally, limonene can coat the esophagus and serve as a protective barrier from the regurgitated stomach acids.
Thanks to its metabolite known as perillyl alcohol (POH), limonene has been observed to effectively repair lab mice’s induced dermatitis and mechanical skin lesions, significantly reducing inflammation and actively contributing to the healing of the wound.
Experts, however, offer a word of caution: Limonene can also cause skin irritation if given in high doses.
As mentioned previously, limonene reacts favorably with the serotonin hormone that the brain produces. This results in a lighter mood that translates to reduced anxiety and stress.
As more and more studies on the effects of limonene show positive results, is it safe to assume that responsible cannabis use brings a host of benefits, thanks in part to the limonene terpene? For now, that remains to be the 64-dollar question. But so far, here are the possible beneficial properties of limonene, according to researchers.
In 2019, a study of the Journal of Brazilian Society of Cardiology discovered that rats exposed to limonene exhibited lower blood pressure, heart rate, and even irregular heartbeats.
The terpene also reduced the levels of bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and accumulated fat in the liver—all of which are contributing factors to heart disease.
Several studies involving actual humans are also encouraging when it comes to limonene’s effect on cancer. In one population research, people who regularly ate citrus fruit peel, which contained large amounts of limonene, were found to be less susceptible to cancer compared to those who did not.
This was also the case in a study of rodents that were given limonene supplements. The animals were less likely to get skin tumors because the limonene prevented oxidative stress and inflammation.
While inflammation per se is not harmful as it is the body’s normal reaction to stress, it can be problematic when it reaches chronic levels. This often causes different kinds of illnesses. Studies have shown that limonene actually reduces the production of inflammatory agents such as nitric oxide, which can cause osteoarthritis.
Oxidative stress, on the other hand, is caused by free radicals—those harmful cell wastes that can come from our food or our environment. This stress in turn can cause cancer, immune deficiency, heart disease, and neurodegeneration. A 2015 research involving hamster cells showed that limonene lessened the DNA damage caused by oxidation.
Of course, there is a need to emphasize again that all of the benefits that limonene can offer still rest in the research and study phase. Further testing is still required to be certain of this terpene’s efficacy.
In the meantime, cannabis users can still enjoy their favorite smoke with the thought that there’s probably some added benefit there—all thanks to the positive effects of limonene terpenes.