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Terpene Profile: Limonene

Most often found in the peels of citrus fruits, limonene is a popular and useful terpene that smells a lot like an orange. Terpenes are hydrocarbons that are often located in the essential oils of various plants. They can produce a variety of different benefits when utilized during aromatherapy sessions. Limonene, in particular, can be used as an antibacterial, antidepressant, and an immunostimulant. It's one of the most commonly used terpenes and is found in countless foods, cosmetics, and drugs.

Limonene exists in two isomeric forms. They are chemically the same and with nearly identical properties, but each has a unique scent. The first is d-limonene, which smells like a citrus fruit. D-limonene is the most common and naturally occurring form often used in food, beauty, and medical products. The alternative, l-limonene, has a turpentine-like scent. 1

Natural Sources:

    • Cannabis Sativa

    • Citrus Peel

    • Fir Needle

    • Palo Santo

 width= Use In Aromatherapy

Most of us are familiar with the strong scent that fills a room when peeling an orange. Much of that scent is coming from the essential oils trapped in the rind of the orange. Limonene is the most abundant and potent of those essential oils. When used in aromatherapy, citrus essential oils with a high concentration of limonene can have powerful health benefits.

Most citrus-based essential oils are going to be up to 90 percent limonene with a mixture of other terpenes unique to the plant source. It's unlikely that you'll use an essential oil that is 100 percent limonene. Each of the different mixtures can have slightly different effects, but most are very similar. 2

For example, lemon essential oil is primarily limonene. It is said to have an energizing effect that can lift spirits. It also provides a powerful and fresh fragrance that most people enjoy. Most other citrus oils, such as sweet orange, lime, grapefruit, and bergamot have the same uplifting and energizing effects.

It can be a wonderful ritual to fill a room diffuser in the morning with a limonene-rich essential oil and let it work it’s magic to wake you up and feel ready to start your day. Try adding a few drops to an essential oil necklace and wear it on your way to work to help get you into a positive mindset. You can also use a personal essential oil diffuser that contains essential oils high in limonene, such as sweet orange, lemon, lime or bergamot. These are great to use for dealing with stress while sitting in traffic.

Benefits Of Limonene Limonene

Limonene can benefit the body, whether used aromatically, applied topically, or ingested in a supplement. In each of these ways, it will impact the body slightly differently, thus providing different health benefits. Some of these are the same health benefits that can be experienced by regularly eating citrus fruits, though extracted terpenes can be consumed at a higher rate and have more significant benefits. When using in essential oil form, always dilute carefully. If using topically, be sure to check with a health professional or essential oil expert before exposing yourself to the sun directly after use. Many citrus-based essential oils can have photosynthesizing properties and you could end up with a severe burn.

Two important benefits that limonene can offer are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These alone make it a great addition to a daily supplement routine. It can help reduce pain, fight infection, and recover faster after a tough workout. It shouldn't be your only source of antioxidants, but rather an addition to an existing health routine. 3

It's also been shown to help combat acid reflux and GERD. Limonene was the subject of a 2007 study. The study showed that d-limonene has an acid neutralizing effect. This made it a powerful tool for fighting GERD and other forms of reflux. The study determined that a dose of 1,000 mg each day was enough to make a difference. Some patients improved with as little as 1,000 mg every other day. 4

Not only could the limonene combat the acid, but it could also fight the secondary cause of reflux, which is bile that moves into the digestive track at the wrong times. The d-limonene was able to help dissolve much of this while it was in the gallbladder and stop the reflux at the source.

It's clear that limonene has many different uses. You can make it a part of your aromatherapy routine to reduce stress and replenish lost energy. You can also take it as part of a supplement to fight infections, destroy free radicals, and prevent acid reflux. It's a well rounded, uplifting and extremely beneficial terpene that happens to smell delicious.

Limonene infographic

Chemical Formula: 5 C10H16

Molar Mass: 136.24 g/mol

Melting Point: -101.83 Fahrenheit

Boiling Point: 349 Fahrenheit

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