Contributed by Jeff Dorsett, MSHS and Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS
A cyclic monoterpene that is the primary chemical constituent of several citrus essential oils, limonene is primarily known for its powerful cleansing properties, but research has shown that it provides a wealth of other health benefits as well. Along with its presence in citrus essential oils, it is also found in Black Pepper, Spearmint, and Dill. The colorless hydrocarbon that has a strong orange-like odor is a common ingredient in countless cleaning and cosmetic products, and it is commonly used in food manufacturing. Along with its heavily researched cleansing ability, recent studies have examined its ability to support cellular function, the immune system, metabolism, and even certain dental applications.
Limonene is revered for its cleansing properties, and this ability is widely researched. Several studies have examined its effectiveness as a surface cleaner.1,2 Another experimental study found that it may have internal cleansing properties when taken internally.*3 To take advantage of the powerful surface cleansing properties of limonene, make your own all-purpose cleaner by adding a few drops of Lemon, Wild Orange, Lime, or other citrus essential oils to a glass spray bottle filled with water and some white vinegar. Or add a few drops of any of those oils to your next load of laundry or use directly as a stain remover on clothing, carpets, or furniture. When taking part in an internal cleanse, start your day off with a glass of water or tea with one or two drops of Lemon essential oil.
Oral application of limonene has shown to have a number of different health-benefitting effects. When ingested, experimental research has suggested that limonene may support healthy cellular function.4-6 Another study found that limonene may support proper respiratory function.*7 Furthermore, when taken internally, research has shown that limonene may support proper immune function and response.8,9 Add a drop or two of Lemon, Wild Orange, Lime, or Grapefruit essential oil to a glass of water, tea, or citrus drink for a citrus twist and a host of possible health benefits.
Citrus essential oils are often associated with weight management efforts, and for good reason. Experimental and clinical research suggests that limonene may support healthy metabolism when consumed.*10,11 Another study found that orally ingested limonene may help to support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels already in the normal range.*12 When combined with healthy lifestyle habits, including proper nutrition and regular exercise, limonene-rich citrus essential oils may have the ability to support weight management efforts through assisting proper metabolic and blood sugar regulation.*
The cleansing benefits of limonene are not limited to your bathroom and kitchen; limonene has shown to be useful in dental applications as well. Human clinical research suggests that toothpaste containing limonene may help to brighten teeth and remove stains.13 Another study suggested that limonene applied topically to the teeth and gums may help to promote clean, healthy-looking teeth.14 Try adding a drop of Lemon or Wild Orange essential oil to your toothpaste for an added burst of teeth-cleaning power.
Although generally associated with cleaning products and known for its uplifting aroma, due to their rich concentration of limonene, citrus essential oils have a myriad of uses in the home and for the health of your family. Let us know how you are taking advantage of its many cleansing and body system supporting properties.
doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.