Essential oils have been used in holistic medicine for centuries. However, their popular use in general society has spread greatly over the last decade. Limonene is one such oil. Extracted from citrus fruit peels- namely lemons, limes, and oranges- it is used as a natural treatment for a plethora of health and wellness issues, acting as an anti-inflammatory, anti-stress agent, and antioxidant.
What Is Limonene?
This extracted oil falls into the compound category known as ‘terpenes’. These are categorized due to the strong aromas that they have. In plants, this aroma acts as a protective agent, deterring predators with its intense smell. It is one of the most common of the terpenes, found plentifully in nature.
As an anti-inflammatory, anti-stressor, and antioxidant, this compound has quite a few uses. As a popular additive to cleaning products (such as laundry detergents and air fresheners), and cosmetics (including lotions and soaps), it produces a delightful scent and is considered to produce a calming, therapeutic effect on its environment. Limonene can also be consumed orally through foods. It is often added to foods and beverages to produce a subtle lemony flavor. However, the substance can also be concentrated into a capsule and taken as a dietary supplement. As its foremost purpose in plants is to protect the plant from being eaten, it can also be used as an all-natural, eco-friendly insect repellent.
This citrusy terpene has long been studied and lauded for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Your body is genetically programmed to provide short-term inflammation as a natural response to stress. In short, small doses, this is not problematic. However, chronic inflammation is extremely harmful to the body and can lead to a variety of major ailments and illnesses. Limonene has been shown to mediate the inflammatory response, particularly in patients suffering from osteoarthritis, a condition that is characterized by chronic inflammation in the joints. This is due to it reducing the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays a major role in inflammation.
Its antioxidant effects have also been demonstrated through studies and research. Antioxidants are crucial for reducing damage to your cells cause by free radicals, which are linked to excessive inflammation and a number of diseases. If left unaddressed, these unstable molecules can cause oxidative stress and extreme damage to the cells.
Additionally, some researchers are also interested in its potential anti-cancer and heart-disease fighting properties. As a supplement, concentrated citrus peel inhibited tumor growth, reduced cholesterol and blood sugar, and boosted overall heart health. These theories are still being tested, though, and the data is difficult to fully understand, as most tests have been conducted in tubes or with animals as opposed to humans.
While this compound has been extracted used throughout the ages, more human studies are certainly needed before these conclusions can be considered fact. That being said, if you want to add this citrusy element to your diet, it is very simple to do so and is considered low-risk for producing negative side effects.