Cannabis terpenes are only now being given the scientific and research attention that they lacked for so long. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds which are found in all plants, including cannabis, and are responsible for their distinctive scents, as well as their various therapeutic qualities. Each terpene has its own biological make-up and effect on the human body. Today we take a closer look at Limonene!
Limonene - What Is It?
In nature, terpenes have a few primary actions; to act as a defence mechanism to deter predators and to attract insects and animals to pollinate the flowers. Limonene in particular has shown to act as a natural attractant for insects and seed dispensers in nature, who are drawn to the fruit by the chemical and then help pollinate the plant further. It has also been shown to have an ability to act as a natural pest repellent.
Animals, plants, and fungi also produce terpenes to carry out necessary biological functions that deliver vitamins, hormones and pheromones. Terpenes are the essential building blocks that come together to make complex essential oils, producing many full plant essential oils that you'll be intimately familiar with – Lavender and Eucalyptus are two great examples!
Limonene is a plant terpene that is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges and provides a strong citrus aroma. It is especially concentrated in orange peel, making up around 97% of the rind’s essential oils. Limonene is one of the most common terpenes found in the natural world and is added to foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to both to provide fragrance and medical benefit.
Potential Health benefits
Despite Limonene's potential therapeutic benefits, very little is known about how it works in the human brain and body. Preliminary studies using lab rodents found promising findings around Limonene's ability to inhibit the growth of skin and mammary tumours.
A 2013 study showed that there is some evidence that Limonene can promote weight loss by lowering the body's blood sugar in mice! Obese mice that were given a diet highly supplemented with Limonene experienced a decrease in blood glucose levels, "bad" cholesterol and increased in their "good" HDL Cholesterol. While this is positive in rats, more research is needed to see how this translates with use on humans.
Several studies have shown its ability to reduce inflammation, with one using mice with ulcerative colitis showing a significant decrease in inflammation markers and colon damage. Another study in 43 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer showed a 22% decrease in breast tumour cell expression after taking a regimen of 2 grams of Limonene daily for 2-6 weeks. Another exciting avenue for Limonene was observed when supplementing the diet of rodents showed inhibition for growth of skin tumours by preventing inflammation and oxidative stress. Undoubtedly, these preliminary studies offer an exciting glimpse into how we can harness naturally occurring substances to fight the myriad of diseases that plague humans.
As the restrictions around research and scientific analysis of the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids are reduced, there is more opportunity to explore the benefits that this complex plant can provide. Here’s to more wonderful research into its potential!
Are There Any Risks Associated With Limonene?
So, we've heard of all the great benefits of Limonene, but are there any adverse side effects or risks associated with it? Limonene is a chemical that has been designated as having a low toxicity based upon lethal dose (LD50) when administered orally to animals. That being said, some studies show that if used too heavily on the skin, Limonene can cause irritation and sensitivity if used in high concentrations. To avoid the risk of skin irritation when used topically, it is advised to always dilute or mix Limonene with other carrier oils such as hemp seed oil or avocado oil as an example.As Limonene is broken down by the liver, it may increase or decrease the concentration of other drugs you are taking, you should always speak with a medical professional if you are taking other medications. The safety of Limonene for children, pregnant women or women who are nursing has not been fully established. As always, you should speak with your doctor before using Limonene or any other supplement if you fall into these categories!
Want to find out more about the wonderful world of Terpenes? We’ve got you covered! Head over and download your free copy of our free Allure of Terpenes eBook.