Any Spanish speakers out there?
Nah, we won't switch up the language on you.
But you might recognize limón-Spanish for “lemon” - in the name of this terpene, one of the most common in the world.
It’s not only one of the most common terpenes. It’s also one of the most useful.
Here are 7 amazing D-limonene health benefits you can offer by adding it to your products.
What is D-Limonene?
It shouldn't surprise you D-limonene is a major constituent of citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges. Because of its citrus smell and taste, it's often used as a dietary supplement, flavoring agent, aromatic oil, or in skin creams.
D-limonene metabolizes to perillyl alcohol (it won’t get you drunk, sorry) for rapid absorption and excretion by the body.
D-Limonene Therapeutic Benefits
Although it doesn’t hang around long, this terp still finds time to help your body cope with a variety of health issues.
Helps Reduce Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux
Excessive stomach acid is the major cause of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When the valve between the stomach and esophagus does not close, stomach acid seeps back into the esophagus.
So, as good as that killer hot sauce you dumped on your mahi-mahi street tacos tasted, you don't want it coming back as part of a burning, regurgitated mess.
D-limonene oil is like a natural swiss-army knife for stomach issues:
It coats the esophagus and may help neutralize stomach acid. It assists in the body's natural peristalsis (the waves in your stomach and intestines that push contents downward, rather than upward) to reduce GERD. And it increases gastric mucus production to promote gut healing.
Acts as Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant for Your Digestive Tract
Not only does d-limonene coat your stomach lining, but it also coats your large intestine to help ensure a healthy digestive tract.
In a study, scientists gave 50-100 mg of D-limonene to rats with ulcerative colitis (UC), a condition in which the large intestine becomes inflamed. The results suggest disease activity and colonic mucosa damage were greatly reduced by the anti-inflammatory effects of D-limonene. Plus, antioxidant levels increased (3).
Helps Dissolves Gallstones
While on the subject of D-limonene's ability to reduce gastric acid:
D-limonene is a solvent of cholesterol, and doctors have used it to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones. In post gallstone surgery patients, infusion of 20 mL d-limonene dissolved the painful clumps overlooked in surgery. (1)
Helps Relieve Metabolic Disorders and Encourages Weight Loss
Metabolic disorders are serious health problems which result in an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. High blood pressure and blood sugars, excessive body fat, and abnormal cholesterol all go hand in hand with these disorders.
A study in which scientists fed high-fat diets and then administered d-limonene showed a decrease in blood pressure and blood sugar levels (4). Another study demonstrated D-limonene supplementation reversed negative effects on liver and pancreas functioning caused by high-fat-diets (5). And D-limonene odor seemed to decrease appetite in flies when smelled, demonstrating the need for future studies (6).
Now this doesn’t mean you should triple up that order of street tacos and count on limonene to fix everything.
But it does suggest this natural flavoring agent might serve you better than over-the-counter drugs with potential side-effects.
Helps Reduce Skin Inflammation
For severe cases of psoriatic arthritis, doctors may prescribe painkillers (opioids). And every day, 115 people in the US overdose on these drugs (7).
It's no wonder patients are seeking natural alternatives.
Luckily, studies suggest topically-applied D-limonene can soothe your aching, burning skin by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production (responsible for some dermatitis symptoms) while improving wound-healing (8).
D-limonene rejuvenates and heals skin, making it the perfect agent in your next moisturizing cream.
The antioxidant properties in D-limonene help explain how and why doctors may use this terpene to treat and Carcinogens cause cancer, and a large body of evidence point to oxygen free radicals (OFR) as attacking healthy cells, too (9).
While OFRs damage cells and cause cancer, antioxidants like limonene suppress the cell damage and promote carcinogen detoxification(10).
Evidence from a phase I clinical trial demonstrated a partial chemopreventive response in a patient with breast cancer (1).
Years later, scientists fed 2-6 grams of limonene to 43 woman with newly discovered breast cancer daily for 6 weeks before surgery to test limonene’s chemotherapeutic activity. Results indicated limonene supplementation reduced cyclin D1 expression, a protein associated with cancer, by 22% (11).
These studies provide hope doctors can slow cancer cell growth naturally instead of using only toxic chemotherapy treatments.
Liver Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Colon Cancer
You're in a fist-fight with a bully who’s lightning quick. We’re talking Mayweather moves.
Then your boy tackles him out of nowhere, holds his arms back, and you get to knock him out with some free shots. (He forfeited his rights to a fair fight by picking on you, so don’t feel bad.)
In this scenario you’re docetaxel (a form of chemotherapy). The bully is prostate cancer, and the friend who had your back is D-limonene.
A clinical study demonstrated adding D-limonene to docetaxel increased the effectiveness of the drug against prostate cancer cells without being toxic to normal prostate epithelial cells (12). Teamwork makes the dream work.
Reduces Anxiety and Stress
Stress is a major source of a number of inflammatory diseases and accelerated aging. Stress can trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone in our brain that can disrupt the parasympathetic nervous system, throw off our sleep cycles, and result in chronic pain (13).
While we mentioned D-limonene’s anti-inflammatory properties above, studies also show this monoterpene contains anti-stress properties (14).
Doctors subjected rats to non-pathological stress and split them into a control group and a group administered 10 mg/kg of d-limonene or it's metabolite perillyl alcohol (POH). The results showed the rats administered d-limonene displayed fewer signs of stress and retained better activity-even more so than those given the perillyl alcohol (15).
Furthermore, the study showed inhaling d-limonene reduces anxiety, which suggests d-limonene could work well in aromatherapy (16).
Potential D-Limonene Side Effects
Like most terpenes, D-limonene is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when used as directed (17).
Sure, using too much of the oil may cause skin irritation. But chug ten gallons of water in fifteen minutes, and you’ll find your body can't tolerate that either.
But if you follow usage instructions, you'll avoid side-effects. Dosage is key.
As always, those with medical conditions or taking prescriptions must seek medical advice. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children should consult with their healthcare professionals.
Conclusion: Don’t Leave Out D-Limonene
This monoterpene packs a powerful punch:
From relieving stress through aromatherapy to aiding in painful digestive conditions, to slowing cancer growth, d-limonene is the terpene you didn't know you needed...