A lemon sliced in half against a blue background


Terpene Spotlight: Limonene

You may have come across the term “terpenes” while shopping for hemp CBD products and wondered, “what’s that?” Hemp plants produce hundreds of active compounds. Research into said compounds beyond just CBD and THC is ramping up. Terpenes not only play a major role in how hemp smells but they’re also believed to change how you feel when using different hemp cultivars. 

One commonly found terpene is limonene (“lie-muh-neen”). You may already be familiar with limonene but didn’t know its name. All citrus fruits contain limonene as it’s a major component of citrus’s aromatic profile.

In this post we’ll discuss:

  • What limonene is 
  • Where limonene can be found in nature 
  • And, what research has been done on its potential benefits

What Are Terpenes?

We’ll get to limonene in a moment, but before we do let’s look at terpenes as a whole. Terpenes are aromatic volatile hydrocarbons. Found in many plants and in some animals, terpene molecules are composed of isoprenes which can be thought of as small building blocks. Terpenes are classified by how many of these isoprene building blocks they contain. Monoterpenes (two isoprenes), sesquiterpenes (three isoprenes), and diterpenes (four isoprenes) are the most common types of terpenes. Terpenes typically account for 1-2% of hemp flower’s weight. 

The aromatic profile of many plants rely on these highly volatile terpene compounds. You may already be familiar with many terpenes but might not know their names. 

Examples of terpenes include:

  • Mangoes contain myrcene.
  • Beta-caryophyllene is found in black pepper and cinnamon.
  • Terpinolene is a component of turpentine.

What Is Limonene?

Limonene, which is sometimes referred to as D-limonene, is a monoterpene, meaning it’s composed of two isoprenes. But it’s limonene’s aroma that you’re probably familiar with: a sweet, citrusy, fruity scent reminiscent of tangerines and lemons. Limonene makes up a large percentage of the essential oils found in citrus rinds. Besides citrus, limonene can be found in hemp as well as caraway, juniper, dill, and some coniferous trees. 

Fun fact: Limonene is one of the most plentiful terpenes found in plants! 2

Although it is rarely the dominant terpene, limonene can be found in significant concentrations in many hemp cultivars. We’ll take a closer look at the limonene content of Sunset Lake CBD cultivars below thanks to laboratory testing.

A bushel of Juniper berries

What Is Limonene Used For?

Thanks to its bright, fresh scent, limonene is used as a flavoring agent for food & drinks, a component in many fragrances, and as an additive in cleaning products. In addition to these commercial uses, scientists are researching how limonene affects the human body and how it might be used in a therapeutic capacity.

Here is a short list of some potential benefits that have been researched:

  • anti-anxiety 1,2,6
  • aid with gastro-oesophageal reflux 1
  • antibacterial 1
  • antibiotic 2
  • inhibition of acne 2
  • immunostimulation1
  • anti-inflammatory 2,4,5
  • analgesic qualities 3

While some of the results look very promising, we must be patient and wait for more research to confirm any potential benefits that limonene could offer. 

Sunset Lake CBD Cultivars Featuring Limonene

Our Vermont-grown hemp naturally produces high levels of many terpenes. We send samples of our hemp cultivars to a third-party laboratory to determine the terpene profile of each. Below is a breakdown of the limonene content for the 2022 crop of Sunset Lake CBD hemp flowers. These percentages may seem small, but a little bit can be quite powerful!

Lifter – 0.08% limonene

Sour Lifter – 0.1% limonene

Hawaiian Haze – 0.13% limonene

Suver Haze – 0.06% limonene

Sour Suver Haze – 0.2% limonene

Super Sour Space Candy – 0.12% limonene

Cherry Abacus – 0.13% limonene

Candy Kush (coming soon!) – 0.09% limonene

*Note: the percentage of terpenes is reported on a by-weight basis.


  1. Russo E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
  2. Ahmad, Samoon, and Kevin P. Hill. Medical Marijuana: A Clinical Handbook, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2021, pp. 112 & 276t
  3. Araújo-Filho, H. G., Pereira, E., Rezende, M. M., Menezes, P. P., Araújo, A., Barreto, R., Martins, A., Albuquerque, T. R., Silva, B., Alcantara, I. S., Coutinho, H., Menezes, I., Quintans-Júnior, L. J., & Quintans, J. (2017). D-limonene exhibits superior antihyperalgesic effects in a β-cyclodextrin-complexed form in chronic musculoskeletal pain reducing Fos protein expression on spinal cord in mice. Neuroscience, 358, 158–169. https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.neuroscience.2017.06.037
  4. Bacanlı, M., Başaran, A. A., & Başaran, N. (2015). The antioxidant and antigenotoxic properties of citrus phenolics limonene and naringin. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, 81, 160–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2015.04.015
  5. Yu, L., Yan, J., & Sun, Z. (2017). D-limonene exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in an ulcerative colitis rat model via regulation of iNOS, COX-2, PGE2 and ERK signaling pathways. Molecular Medicine Reports, 15, 2339-2346. https://doi.org/10.3892/mmr.2017.6241
  6. Costa, C. A., Cury, T. C., Cassettari, B. O., Takahira, R. K., Flório, J. C., & Costa, M. (2013). Citrus aurantium L. essential oil exhibits anxiolytic-like activity mediated by 5-HT(1A)-receptors and reduces cholesterol after repeated oral treatment. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 13, 42. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-42