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The terpene limonene is heavily expressed throughout Cannabis sativa strains. Limonene gets it name from citrus peels (lemons and oranges) and has a large prevalence in perfumes, cosmetics, cleaning products and essential oils. If you are looking for high limonene strains, ask for fruity strains that have a sweet and tropical citrus aroma. While this terpene has many uses as a fragrance, it also has measurable medical benefits; one of the more interesting qualities is limonene’s effect on neurotransmitters in the brain to reduce anxiety.

Research on limonene and many other essential oil products are typically studied with an animal model. Limonene has received enough attention in essential oil research, that there are numerous human clinical trials. Limonene essential oils produce measurable anti-anxiety effects in both preclinical and clinical conditions.(1-3)

In a 2018 review article, nine clinical trials of limonene essential oils were compared with a conclusion that citrus essential oils (in vapor or sublingual delivery) lower anxiety in stressful situations. During one trial, participants in high stress situations of pre-operative surgery noticed a reduction in anxiety through inhaled aromatherapy. Clinical trials with participants about to undergo dental procedures demonstrated a reduction in anxiety levels versus the control group without aromatherapy. In another clinical trial, hospitalized patients with depression were given citrus oil diffusers in an aroma therapy setting and experienced a decrease in depression symptoms. Only one clinical trial was unable to measure a decrease in anxiety symptoms; those waiting for a colonoscopy.(2)

Let’s face it, there is no way to make that a calm and pleasurable experience. An overall conclusion from limonene research is that inhaled or sublingual limonene can be beneficial in reducing anxiety. Investigating anti-anxiety effects on a molecular level, limonene given to mice increased serotonin in the prefrontal cortex and dopamine in the hippocampus through the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. The researchers gave mice a continuous, regulated dose of limonene for one week. They measured the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamic acid. Significant changes in GABA were observed. The results lead researchers to concluded that limonene lowered stress by acting through the GABAa receptor and lowering anxiety.(3)

It is shown that limonene vapor can increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain region responsible for anxiety and depression. Many cannabis consumers report that high limonene strains produce a calming mellow high without paranoia or jittery sensations. So if you are looking for a calm, mellow cannabis experience ask for a citrus strain to give you a tropical beach vibe with calming sensations.


These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing said, done, typed, printed or reproduced by Torrey Holistics is intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat or take the place of a licensed physician.

1. Russo, E. B. (2011, August). Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and
phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology.
2. Mannucci, C., Calapai, F., Cardia, L., Inferrera, G., D’Arena, G., Di Pietro, M., …Calapai, G. (2018). Clinical Pharmacology of Citrus aurantium and Citrus sinensis for the Treatment of Anxiety . Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2018, 1–18.
3. ZHOU, W., YOSHIOKA, M., & YOKOGOSHI, H. (2009). Sub-Chronic Effects of s-Limonene on Brain Neurotransmitter Levels and Behavior of Rats. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 55(4), 367–373.