Terpene Tour: Limonene
The field of terpene research is rapidly growing and unfolding thanks to cannabis legalization. Research is now forging ahead unshackled by restrictive laws. A recurring compound evident in the ever expanding chemical ecology of cannabis is one of the fundamental building blocks of life - the cyclic monoterpene Limonene.
"Limon", the Greek word for lemon, is the root of the modern form Limonene. It is the often sharply sweet and bitter aroma associated with citrus plants, especially the rinds and flowers. It is least present in grapefruit and most noticeable in lemons with oranges and limes on a sliding scale in between. When distilled into the essential form the fragrance is oranges all the way. Found in all the different pheno- and chemotypes of the cannabis plant, various concentrations of Limonene always plays a part in the aroma profile of your favourite weed. How it combines with the cannabinoids and other terpenes gives nuance and tone to the bouquet and the psychoactive experience. Savour the sharp perfume of a Lemon Haze, Lemon Skunk or a Sour Diesel. That sinus clearing, distinctive citrus fragrance is Limonene working its mouth watering wonders.
WHAT IS LIMONENE TO PLANTS
Limonene resides in the cannabis resins. These resins are viscous oils that resist crystallization and are thought to be produced by cannabis in part for UV light mitigation. These concentrated hydrophobic compounds provide similar protection to the plant as the waxy surface of cacti. They seem to also act advantageously for the plant as antifungals, anti-desiccants, insect repellents, antimicrobials. The mechanical trial of eating stinking resin covered flowers and leaves most certainly act as a deterrent for both insects and animals. Increased production of resin seems to be a life-preserving response to environmental challenges. Diverse and complex cannabinoid and terpene profiles have developed over time as the plant has adapted to a variety of conditions throughout the world, producing the astonishing variety of cannabis available today. Limonene as part of the terpene profile produced by cannabis is thought to suppress the growth of surrounding vegetation, eliminating competition for water and food. Cannabis was so successful at this that it was called Ditchweed. It would dominate irrigation ditches and field boundaries of other domestic cultivars but was not eradicated because of its good insect attracting and bad pest repelling properties.
WHAT IS LIMONENE TO HUMANS
Various essential oils have been used medicinally by humans for millennia.
There are the biblical myrrh and frankincense, revered medicines in the ancient apothecary. Folktales from when hemp was one of the primary crops grown by humans tell us that the aroma of hemp discourages flies and mosquitoes, which is certainly rooted in fact. Limonene provides the pleasant smelling citrus notes in hemp essence and is known to be an effective insect repellent. Limonene is also a potent natural fungicide with a mild antiseptic action. It has a very pleasant smell and in low concentrations is nonpoisonous and quite safe.
Limonene is rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract after which it is metabolized by the liver then distributed among the tissues of the body.
In rats fed a high fat diet ingestion of Limonene was shown to alleviate high-stress oxidative liver injury and relieve insulin resistance. It reverses hepatic fatty acids and the downstream complications caused by hepatic impairment. Similarly, high levels of Limonene in chemotherapies conducted on rats had positive responses so profound as to be called chemo-preventive. Preventing, rolling back and protecting against cancer are promising beneficial chemotherapeutic applications in treating human malignancies and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Limonene has also shown to be a powerful anxiolytic and significant anti depressant with little to no side effects when studied in rodents.
Industrially, Limonene is a powerful solvent and is used in many cleaning products. It is used as a food flavour and as a fragrance in personal hygiene products.
Many medicines are already made from terpenes. Steroids, for example, are derivatives of the triterpene squalene. Cannabis sometimes contains up to 7% Limonene, a single constituent in a distinctive pharmacopoeia of beneficial therapeutic compounds. It is far from folklore to consider the consumption of cannabis in any number of its forms a permanent long term solution for good health. The discovery of novel applications for Limonene awaits further academic research and innovative industrial methodology. It is not far-fetched to consider the manufacture of customised natural medicines from cannabis extractions.
Written by: Guest Writer
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