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Interest in essential oils and their healing ability is at an all-time high. The more we learn about the amazing benefits of essential oils, the more it seems we want to learn. Nature has provided us with a potent array of natural anti-cancer compounds in common citrus fruits. Lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, and tangerine all possess plenty of healing plant nutrients − and the essential oils derived from the rinds of these fruits are no exception.
Citrus essential oil has been used for centuries for relief from colds and flu. These oils have also been used for cleansing, purification, digestion, skin complaints, disinfecting and so much more.
Ancient healers might not have known it, but modern science confirms that citrus essential oil contains an interesting array of natural phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) that have anti-cancer properties. Scientists have been studying the phytochemicals found in citrus essential oils for decades.
It’s All About Limonene
At first it was thought that the anti-cancer activity of citrus essential oil was mainly due to the high levels of antioxidants they contained. Closer inspection found that it had mainly to do with one special phytochemical found in citrus known as limonene. There are now over 200 research studies on limonene discussing its anti-cancer benefits.
The limonene content in citrus essential oil depends a little upon the growing conditions of the fruit trees and many other factors, but generally speaking, citrus oils contain significant quantities of limonene.
Limonene Content in Citrus Essential Oils
Lemon essential oil: 59-73% limonene
Lime essential oil: 50-60% limonene
Orange essential oil: 85-96% limonene
Tangerine essential oil: 85-93% limonene
Grapefruit essential oil: 88-95% limonene
Other phytochemicals found in citrus essential oils include perillyl alcohol, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, myrcene, and a few other minor constituents. All of these phytochemicals have research indicating they also have potent anti-cancer activity. But by far the most studied phytochemical is limonene.
Extraction and Potency of Citrus Essential Oil
Citrus essential oils are mechanically cold pressed using the rind of the fruit. Because a good amount of essential oil can be extracted that way, citrus oils are not overly expensive, especially when compared to some other essential oils.
It takes about 1,000 lemons to yield one pound (454 grams) of lemon essential oil. By contrast, it takes around 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilos) of rose petals to yield one pound (454 grams) of rose essential oil. As you can see, citrus yields much more oil by weight than do rose petals, and they are priced accordingly. Rose essential oil is one of the most expensive oils to purchase.
It takes about 75 lemons to make one 15ml bottle of lemon essential oil, so citrus essential oils are extremely condensed and potent.
6 Great Ways To Use Citrus Essential Oil
1. Put a drop or two of lemon, lime, orange, or tangerine essential oil into your favorite juice or sparkling water for an extra wallop of anti-cancer potential and to encourage the elimination of wastes and toxins. The limonene content stimulates white blood cell production, improves the body’s ability to combat infection, and helps to detoxify the liver. Please use only glass containers as essential oils eat plastic and make sure your oils are labeled as therapeutic grade and safe for internal use.
2. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often suffer from mouth ulcers. To speed up the healing process, rub a drop of your favorite citrus essential oil into the affected spot as frequently as you can remember to do it.
3. Feeling stressed or depressed? Just open the cover of your favorite citrus essential oil and breathe it in. Orange in particular helps to balance the emotions, either relaxing or stimulating as needed. Lemon refreshes and brings clarity of thought.
4. Using a purpose built cool mist diffuser, you can diffuse citrus essential oils for mood improvement and clarity of thought. A combination of orange with pine essential oil and cinnamon is wonderfully uplifting.
5. Substitute lemon essential oil for lemon juice or zest to flavor your favorite recipes.
6. Add shelf life to organic fruits and vegetables by filling a bowl or small bucket with cold water, adding 2-3 drops of lemon or orange essential oil and drenching your produce in the water. Rinse and refrigerate them afterwards.
As a breast cancer coach, I teach my clients how to use certain essential oils for health improvement. For instance, to improve breast health I recommend massaging the breasts daily using a combination of a favorite citrus essential oil with either frankincense, lavender, or sandalwood (just to name a few). A few drops of each is usually sufficient.
Citrus essential oils stimulate lymphatic circulation, improve immunity, and the anti-cancer properties of these oils are well documented.
The Research on Limonene’s Anti-Cancer Benefits
There is plenty of scientific research on citrus essential oils, and especially on limonene. One 1984 study found that rats fed limonene had a 72% reduction in mammary tumors as well as regression of existing mammary tumors − with no toxicity.
A 1994 study (also on rodents), found that limonene helped not only to prevent mammary carcinomas but also had anti-tumor effects.
How much limonene was necessary for the animals to experience tumor regression and prevention? One interesting 1992 study found that a diet containing 7.5% limonene was sufficient for mammary tumors to completely regress.
That’s all very well and good for animals, but does limonene work for humans?
A 2015 study on human pancreatic cancer cells in vitro (in test tubes) found that limonene inhibited the growth of the cancer cells. It also inhibited cellular proliferation (rapid reproduction of a cell). Limonene also promoted apoptosis (programmed cell death cancer cells). Researchers noted that limonene had “cancer specific toxicity.”
A small 2013 study on 43 women with newly-diagnosed breast cancer (all of whom chose surgery) had some interesting results. The women took two grams of limonene per day for two to six weeks prior to surgery. The results indicated that limonene concentrated in breast tissue and reduced cyclin D1 expression in tumors. Cyclin D1 is a protein involved in the life cycle of cells. By reducing its expression, it is thought that this may lead to cell-cycle arrest and reduction in tumor cell growth.
An interesting 2015 study on 40 early-stage breast cancer patients indicated that limonene had a general systemic effect on them. The patients experienced several results, but most notably a decrease in the circulation of adrenal steroid hormones.
Since estrogen is a steroid hormone and tends to have a proliferative effect, reducing circulation of estrogen via natural means could be significant for breast cancer patients. The women also experienced an increase in bile acids, important for aiding absorption of dietary fats, elimination of liver wastes, and reduction in cholesterol levels.
Studies on limonene and citrus essential oils are being released all the time. It is always exciting to discover what other roles citrus essential oil can have in cancer prevention and treatment, so stay tuned!
3 Things You Should Know BEFORE Using Citrus Essential Oils
1. Quality is important! You want to know where your essential oils come from and whether or not the fruit has been sprayed with pesticides. Pesticide residue concentrates in the rind of citrus fruit which, as mentioned above, is where the essential oil comes from. It is best to avoid essential oils from companies that do not tell you how the fruit for their oils is grown. Organic, or at least spray-free, is best.
2. Using citrus essential oil on your skin can make the skin photosensitive − meaning that if the skin treated with citrus oils is then exposed to the UV rays from sunlight, sun lamps, or tanning beds, it can burn more easily or react with a rash. To avoid this, simply shield the skin treated with citrus essential oils from any possible UV rays for at least 6 hours after application.
3. Because grapefruit is known to react with many medications, it is advised to avoid the use of grapefruit essential oil until you’ve checked with your health care practitioner.
General note: When using essential oils to enhance your health, it is always a good idea to do your research and/or work closely with a qualified practitioner.
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Nature has provided us with a potent array of natural anti-cancer compounds in common citrus fruits. The essential oils derived from the rinds of these fruits are no exception. In fact, scientists have been studying the phytochemicals found in citrus essential oils for decades.
One special phytochemical found in citrus is known as limonene. There are now over 200 research studies on limonene’s anti-cancer benefits. Generally speaking, citrus essential oils contain significant quantities of limonene.
Citrus essential oils are extremely condensed and potent. For example, it takes about 75 lemons to make one 15ml bottle of lemon essential oil.
Here are 6 uses for citrus essential oils:
1. Put a drop or two of lemon, lime, orange, or tangerine essential oil into your favorite juice or sparkling water
2. Rub a drop of your favorite citrus essential oil into a mouth ulcer caused by chemotherapy
3. Open the cover of your favorite citrus essential oil and breathe it in to lift your mood.
4. Diffuse citrus essential oils for mood improvement and clarity of thought.
5. Substitute lemon essential oil for lemon juice or zest in recipes.
6. Add shelf life to organic fruits and vegetables by washing in water with citrus essential oils.
3 Things to Know BEFORE Using Citrus Essential Oils:
1. Quality is important! Know where your essential oils come from and whether or not the fruit has been sprayed with pesticides.
2. Using citrus essential oil on your skin can make the skin photosensitive. Wait 6 hours after application before exposing the skin to UV rays.
3. Avoid the use of grapefruit essential oil until you’ve checked with your health care practitioner.
Karen Saunders says
Who sells the best essential oils? I’m interested in selling essential oils at my family business!
doTerra has the best quality Essential Oils,
Delores Danzer says
Hi Karen Saunders. Because of the Young Living Essential Oils seed to seal process and also their integrity and concern for everyone using non toxic products I have been using their essential oils since 2009 and LOVE them. You can check this all out at their website. God bless you in your journey……..Delores
Isaac Hidalgo says
Kathleen Klimaitis says
check out Snowlotus Oils
DoTERRA has the purest. They go to where the plants are originally from in the world. I’ve trust nothing else with my babies!
Karen Williams says
I have researched this pretty thoroughly and am confident the oils I’m using are the best on the market based on the reports of a world renown biochemist. Please feel free to contact me and I’ll give you the info.
My name is Karen also ????
Hi Karen (Williams)
Please could you let me know what company you go to for your essential oils. Thanks
Karen Williams says
Ann, I thought I replied directly to you but apparently I didn’t so you may want to read fown several comments.
Karen Saunders, what is your family business? What state are you in?
Valerie Demerski says
You might want to do some research on the Facebook page Essential Oil Consumer Reports. I’m a rep for Doterra and in love with their oils not only for their purity, quality and effectiveness but also because of the amazing work the company does around the world to give back in so many ways.
Sandra Blamble says
I suggest checking out seedtoseal.com it offers so many oils, they have so many singles and blends. Young Living is a wonderful company. They plant, harvest and distill there own oils which makes them tops on my list.
Tina Baldwin says
I am an RN and was a hugh skeptic about essential oils but after using Young Living essential oils I am now their biggest fan!!
What about citrus fruits and oils for oesophagus Cancer? Still good?
I use DoTerra oils and love them.
I highly recommend young Living Essential Oils, love them and they have helped in whatever ells me. I have not seen a more high grade product out there. Blessing in your quest.
holisticessentials.ca valuable information and study on YLO
young living is good so is native american nutrionals
Everybody is making money selling oils but where are the testimonies of their healings? And how do you prove it “prevented cancer’???
Karen Williams says
Thanks for your inquiry. I use doTERRA essential oils after being recommended by my healthcare practitioner.
I’ve used oils from health food stores and other independent companies and concluded I couldn’t go wrong with doTERRA based on everything I dug up during my research. I am totally won over by the integrity of the company- from the very strict standards of purity and potency of the oils and outreach in third world countries by providing long term fair-trade jobs and humanitarian relief.
But the deciding factor for me was when I discovered that Dr. Robert Pappas, an independent biochemist, who tests oils for hundreds of oils companies is on the advisory board of doTerra. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Pappas, he has a facebook page “Essential Oils University” and much can be learned about essential oils there.
Also, a facebook page recommended by others here, “Essential Oil Consumer Reports” has some very interesting info and test results by the worldwide community of oilers from many different companies.
I hope this info is helpful to you. Blessings.
Karen Williams says
I forgot to mention, another great site for the results of medical research that’s been conducted with essential oils for different ailments is pubmed.gov. Just type in the name of an oil, like frankincense, and see what comes up.
Thank you so much for providing me with this information I really appreciate it. Blessings to you too.
I have read a number of article that contradict what you say about ingesting essential oils by adding a few drops to water. These sites state that this is potentially harmful as oil and water don’t mix and the oil drops will just sit on top of the water, meaning you are effectively drinking it neat…..not safe. What do you say?
I follow the guidelines from Young Living when I enrolled in 2009 as I was looking for something natural to relieve headaches and nerve pain…thank you Young Living! I ingest several of them too via water in a glass not plastic…yum! Young Living has their own farms with their seed to seal process. Just haven’t used any other oily company as I have been blessed getting them from Young Living.
Isaac Hidalgo says
Hi, Michelle. Maybe you would like to know Pure Esential Oils by Melaluca. They have been recently lounched to the market, though they have been selling Melaleuca Esential Oil for over thirty years. They are most probably the best you can find and a lot less expensive than Youn Living.
Jane- You are absolutely correct- water and oil don’t mix. The lining of your throat to the stomach is at risk and it can happen with one time use or build up over multiply times ingested over a period of time, then the big bang to the emergency room with swollen tongue and throat and the allergy. This happen to me… Allergies can happen at anytime. I would not advise anyone to take EOs internally or even breathe the stuff. On the skin with a patch test with EOs diluted are the safest and will work fine. No Doctor and no one person can predict ahead of time whether you will or won’t- develop an allergy, no matter how often you take the stuff because maybe another spice will kick it off. Research before you use and KNOW WHAT you are doing. Remember books are printed to make money and EOs are too…consumer beware!
Loretta Wilkins says
You can ingest them by putting them in an empty 00 capsule with a carrier oil. You don’t need much. And yes, they are very potent – concentrated, but in the end, you still ingest these oils when consuming the full plant. You are just getting it in a concentrated form and in a form where it’s highly bioavailable. This makes it more effective than if you had consumed an entire plant. When you purchase any supplement, you are getting it in a concentrated and more bioavailable form. Yes, I wouldn’t mix an oil with water and drink it. I made that mistake with Thyme. It wasn’t fun. But in a capsule, or mixed with a food or drink that it blends with (an oil), then you should have no problem. Of course, the FDA has approved certain oils only for ingestion. Always follow the label.
Young Living oilsare the best quality for your money. Been using them since 1998. Great products, UNCUT oils.
Please check out this most important information concerning Young Living Essential Oils holisticessentials.ca
looking for Therapeutic Essential Oils, some that can be take internally. could you recommend?
Sure, I can recommend doTERRA essentials for internal use. Not all of their oils are designated as such but the oils that are GRAS for ingestion have “supplement facts” listed on the the bottle. The bottles without the supplement facts are for topical or aromatic use only. One drop of oil can service 40 trillion cells in your body so you only need one or two drops.
There may be other brands but because I’m not familiar with them I can only suggest what I have actually used. Because of doTERRA’s rigorous testing by independent and in-house labs for purity and potency, I don’t worry about any solvents or impurities being in them.
If I can be of further help or if you would like find out how to purchase doTERRA oils at wholesale, just let me know.
Mary Bennett says
For people in the U K Quinessence is an excellent company providing oils of therapeutic quality. Aromatherapist
doTerra and Young Living are not good choices for oils.
I have seen recent independent testing on some of their oils and have seen adulterated oils(not all the time).
If the company will not provide GC/MS testing results(you have to learn how to read them) and batch dates of production, then you should not buy from them. Neither of then will provide but claim purity. Essential oil market is not monitored. Education is your best gauge on who to buy from.
I am not connected to any oil company, but if in the US….then RMO(Rocky Mountain Oils) are your source with this testing given by request for all current and past batches.
I buy my oils from Indonesia since this is a hot bed for oil production(especially the expensive ones here) and find the cost to be about 1/4 over all of what they are in the US. They provide testing as well. Ordering from over seas can be tricky, so learn about shipping methods of the company and how they protect the purity of the oils while in transit.
GC are you interested in sharing your overseas supplier?
Thank you GC for your accurate post. Many purchase their oils because of persuasive advertising, such as designating oils as therapeutic grade. There is NO scientific standard either nationally or internationally that has been endorsed by this industry. Therapeutic grade is a marketing term promoted by doTERRA to create the perception their oils are healthier. Others have adopted this descriptive term to promote sales of their oils. In fact, many oils come from countries that offer very little oversite in respect to the use of pesticides, herbicides and other practices and conditions that might corrupt the end product.
Karen Williams, my name is Irene and I am very interested in knowing where your oils come from. I don’t know where to get top quality oils for ingestion.
Babz A says
I humbly suggest if you plan to shop for pure essential oils that you do your research and know how to read a GCMS report.. If a company doesn’t supply one, then don’t buy from them. I used YL and DT for years. DT now publishes GCMS reports online (but, I don’t trust their oils AND they are pricey because they are MLM) , but YL refuses to publish any GCMS report “because they are proprietary”- which is pure baloney.
I trust Aromatics Intl. Their oils are sustainably sourced and are pure. They also are connected to AROMAHEAD institute, where you can sign up for free courses, and eventually be certified, if you wish.