February 27, 2013 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Limonene is a chemical found in the peels of citrus fruits and in other plants. It is used to make medicine.
Limonene is used to promote weight loss, and treat bronchitis.
In foods, beverages, and chewing gum, limonene is used as a flavoring.
In pharmaceuticals, limonene is added to help medicinal ointments and creams penetrate the skin.
In manufacturing, limonene is used as a fragrance, cleaner (solvent), and as an ingredient in water-free hand cleansers.
How does it work?
Limonene may block cancer-forming chemicals and kill cancer cells in the laboratory. But more research is needed to know if this occurs in humans.
Crowell PL. Prevention and therapy of cancer by dietary monoterpenes. J Nutr 1999;129:775S-778S.
Duetz WA, Bouwmeester H, van Beilen JB, Witholt B. Biotransformation of limonene by bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and plants. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 2003;61:269-77.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 — Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
Larsen ST, Hougaard KS, Hammer M, et al. Effects of R-(+)- and S-(-)-limonene on the respiratory tract in mice. Hum Exp Toxicol 2000;19:457-66.
Matura M, Goossens A, Bordalo O, et al. Oxidized citrus oil (R-limonene): a frequent skin sensitizer in Europe. J Am Acad Dermatol 2002;47:709-14.
Miyazawa M, Shindo M, Shimada T. Metabolism of (+)- and (-)-limonenes to respective carveols and perillyl alcohols by CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 in human liver microsomes. Drug Metab Dispos 2002;30:602-7.
Ota Y, Hamada A, Nakano M, Saito H. Evaluation of percutaneous absorption of midazolam by terpenes. Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 2003;18:261-6.
Raphael TJ, Kuttan G. Immunomodulatory activity of naturally occurring monoterpenes carvone, limonene, and perillic acid. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 2003;25:285-94.
Rolseth V, Djurhuus R, Svardal AM. Additive toxicity of limonene and 50% oxygen and the role of glutathione in detoxification in human lung cells. Toxicology 2002;170:75-88.
Topham EJ, Wakelin SH. D-Limonene contact dermatitis from hand cleansers. Contact Dermatitis 2003;49:108-9.
Turner SD, Tinwell H, Piegorsch W, et al.The male rat carcinogens limonene and sodium saccharin are not mutagenic to male Big Blue rats. Mutagenesis 2001;16:329-32.
Vigushin DM, Poon GK, Boddy A, et al. Phase I and pharmacokinetic study of D-limonene in patients with advanced cancer. Cancer Research Campaign Phase I/II Clinical Trials Committee. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 1998;42:111-7.