From Supporting the Immune System, Modulating Microbe Effects, Soothing Tissues, Calming the Mind, Food Safety, Antioxidant Potential…& More…. You’ve “Landed” In the Right Place to Discover Why Orange is One Citrus Oil That Lives Up to its Positive Reputation
I have loved on lemon oil, wrote several odes to the oil of grapefruit (1, 2), celebrated the blood sugar benefits of various citrus oils, but I have yet to fully discuss the popular oil of orange in depth.
Although this essential oil did get an honorable mention in my dutifully devoted research to potential safety precautions and medication interactions, this was far from praising its positive attributes. Rather, the article was more of an antidote to the harped on furanocumarin content of various fruit peels and juices and the “guilt by association” of essential oils.
I must admit, my go to citrus oil is lemon oil, which I knew was high in limonene, and it wasn’t as contested as being high in that nonvolatile compound that caused me to spew out a two-part series on grapefruit. Still, according to a study in PLoS One that examined the distribution of the debated constituent category of furanocoumarins, there are a vast amount of citrus oils I could be discussing, so I wasn’t just picking on orange. (Bad pun!) It looks like I may have my work cut out for the next century or so if I want to be fair in highlighting citrus oils! The authors state:
Citrus belong to the Rutaceae family, which is composed of approximately 160 genera and 1900 species ; true citrus belong to the Aurantioideae subfamily, the Citreae tribe and the Citrineae subtribe. True citrus include 6 genera: Citrus, Fortunella, Poncirus,Microcitrus, Eremocitrus and Clymenia .
While we are on this topic, I should mention this nonvolatile component of citrus oils can be used as a marker of assessing adulteration of an oil. For example, a study in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis states:
The volatile fraction is responsible for 85–99% of the whole oil on a weight basis [, ]. The majority of this fraction is short chain alcohols, aldehydes, esters, acids, monoterpenes (C10H16), sesquiterpenes (C15H24), and their corresponding terpenoids (oxygen containing derivatives). There are also trace levels of sulfur- and nitrogen-containing compounds which contribute to the aroma character of citrus oils. It was the development of GC and the capillary column technique that makes comprehensive compositional analysis possible. The majority of the identified volatile compounds are common among citrus species.
Anyway, grapefruit and orange, according to some experts, authors, and bloggers are highest in limonene. I covered grapefruit, as mentioned, but recently, I’ve been hearing many of my essential oil mentors mention they have been dripping a drop or two of orange oil in their water.
Was it time for me to move beyond my citrus comfort zone?
It appears so…
I have been diving into the research a little more about orange essential oil, and considering I use a trusted brand that I have confidence in authenticity, I am adding this oil to my monthly oil order.
Let me share with you why.
The Many Benefits of Orange Oil
1. Critter Effects and Antioxidant Protection
Did you hear?!
There was an explosion of research in an unexpected corner of the “w-w-w dot” world on my computer recently!
Let me tell you the story…
“La, la, la…”
That’s the usual tone of my mind on a research “safari,” if it is involving essential oils.
So, this was the melody in my brain a week or so ago and as I was minding my own Google business on orange oil, I got caught in a cross-referencing a blog.
Then, I came upon THIS: https://www.science.gov/topicpages/s/sinensis+essential+oil.html
What was this secret “citing” that I have never heard of?
It was referencing orange oil for its ability to put up a fight to microbes and scoot out unwanted critters in rodents, petri dishes, and more?!
You’ve got to scroll to believe in the protection of Citrus sinensis! From pretty toenails to antioxidant protection, there are many applications for this oil.
I should note that I’m not sure how I landed here (See why here).
Was it a Mork and Mindy moment?
Still, 25 pages on essential oil abstracts. Score!!
One study that was “out of this world” reported on orange oil’s composition & the resulting effect on microbes (S. aureus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa). I like this one in particular, because it takes into account an aspect of quality essential oils- that the content of a constituent is effected by harvesting. The authors state:
The present work investigates the effect of ripening stage on the chemical composition of essential oil extracted from peel of four citrus: bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), lemon (Citrus limon), orange maltaise (Citrus sinensis), and mandarin (Citrus reticulate) and on their antibacterial activity. Essential oils yields varied during ripening from 0.46 to 2.70%, where mandarin was found to be the richest. Forty volatile compounds were identified. Limonene (67.90–90.95%) and 1,8-cineole (tr-14.72%) were the most represented compounds in bitter orange oil while limonene (37.63–69.71%), ?-pinene (0.63–31.49%), ?-terpinene (0.04–9.96%), and p-cymene (0.23–9.84%) were the highest ones in lemon. In the case of mandarin, the predominant compounds were limonene (51.81–69.00%), 1,8-cineole (0.01–26.43%), and ?-terpinene (2.53–14.06%). However, results showed that orange peel oil was dominated mainly by limonene (81.52–86.43%) during ripening. The results showed that ripening stage influenced significantly the antibacterial activity of the oils against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This knowledge could help establish the optimum harvest date ensuring the maximum essential oil, limonene, as well as antibacterial compounds yields of citrus.
Another study reported on another aspect of limonene degradation due to processing, further supporting the “universal” importance of quality measures.
Finally, this study highlighted the diffusing and topical application of terpeneless cold pressed Valencia orange oil (CPV) and (whole) orange oil in assisting keratinocyte cells with microbe “invasion.” (Doesn’t that just sound alien-like?) This was interesting, because it demonstrated that other constituents, besides the highest quantity one, also has beneficial effects. This demonstrated the important synergism of components “landing together” in one bottle.
Okay, traveling back to earth, let’s look at more orange oil benefits.
(That section was dedicated to my dad, we loved “Mork and Mindy!” “Nah-nu, nah-nu, dad!”)
2. The Lovely Limonene
Limonene is the main component that makes citrus oils so esteemed. Although essential oils are more than the sum of their parts, the high quantity of limonene in citrus oils makes the comparison worthy to glance at.
This is for good reason.
Below is just a taste of some study topics on this well-researched constituent, along with links to the abstract and/or full text:
In Vitro (cells):
- Modulation of signaling pathways in immune cells
- Food preservation and antioxidant potential
- Inhibition of adenosine (A2) receptor, thus potentially promoting sleep
- Breast Health and healthy cell cycling (more)
In Vivo (animals, rodents):
- Balancing male rats blood sugar and assisting their fatty livers
- Modulating immune cells and immune function in rodents
In Humans (clinical trials, pilot studies, etc.):
- Breast Health:
This study first tested bioavailability of orange oil for limonene in rodents. Next, the authors demonstrated that the application of orange oil was safe and useful for increasing concentrations of limonene through topical massage to the breast of healthy volunteers. This is important for dosing, as the authors state:
Limonene, a major component in citrus oil, has demonstrated anti-cancer effects in preclinical mammary cancer models. However, the effective oral dose translates to a human dose that may not be feasible for chronic dosing. We proposed to evaluate topical application of limonene to the breast as an alternative dosing strategy.
- Metabolic and Cellular Health:
In another study limonene not only modulated cellular growth patterns, but also affected other several other metabolic pathways. The abstract reads as follows:
Limonene is a lipophilic monoterpene found in high levels in citrus peel. Limonene demonstrates anticancer properties in preclinical models with effects on multiple cellular targets at varying potency. While of interest as a cancer chemopreventive, the biologic activity of limonene in humans is poorly understood. We conducted metabolite profiling in 39 paired (pre/postintervention) plasma samples from early-stage breast cancer patients receiving limonene treatment (2 g QD) before surgical resection of their tumor. Metabolite profiling was conducted using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to a linear trap quadrupole system and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Metabolites were identified by comparison of ion features in samples to a standard reference library. Pathway-based interpretation was conducted using the human metabolome database and the MetaCyc database. Of the 397 named metabolites identified, 72 changed significantly with limonene intervention. Class-based changes included significant decreases in adrenal steroids (P < 0.01), and significant increases in bile acids (P ? 0.05) and multiple collagen breakdown products (P < 0.001). The pattern of changes also suggested alterations in glucose metabolism. There were 47 metabolites whose change with intervention was significantly correlated to a decrease in cyclin D1, a cell-cycle regulatory protein, in patient tumor tissues (P ? 0.05). Here, oral administration of limonene resulted in significant changes in several metabolic pathways. Furthermore, pathway-based changes were related to the change in tissue level cyclin D1 expression. Future controlled clinical trials with limonene are necessary to determine the potential role and mechanisms of limonene in the breast cancer prevention setting.
Here is a list of the metabolites affected.
If your bored someday, and love biochemistry, just google “limonene,” you’ll be busy for hours.
3. Greener Living
A Dr. Sarah Thought: The Integrative Application of the Findings in Petri Dishes, Rodents, and Human Trials
Many people may dismiss cell studies, but I think of it from an application standpoint of the different “cultures and microbes” that are taking resident in your household environment. Essential oils are a safer greener living alternative than toxic chemicals and citrus oil contain this potent constituent of limonene at a wallet friendly price.
Furthermore, due to the fact that it has been found that a viruses’ pathogenicity is modulated by the hosts’ “terrain,” (sick people get sick) and essential oils support the whole body, we can “clean up” our homes while increasing our health.
4. Marvelous Mood Enhancement
This article review I found is a wonderful compilation of various studies on the “pharmacological actions” of selected oils for common conditions. Orange is listed for calming and modulating stress.
Now, click here to read more about all the wonderful mood benefits of orange essential oil.
I hope you find orange oil as “out of this world” as I do now!
UNITED STATES – JUNE 12: MORK & MINDY – “Wedding Gallery” 1981 Robin Williams (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)