Lime essential oil can be cleansing, invigorating, and calming all at the same time. This is because lime essential oil benefits for health are system-wide if used correctly. Read on to learn about lime essential oil benefits for health and how to use it.
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History of Limes
The true origin of limes is unknown but could be from the Southeast Asia region. I was sad to find out that little is known about this exquisite plant’s origins.
Trivia: Lime oil is used in making perfume for men. Limes were used on boats by British sailors in the 19th century to prevent scurvy. Vitamin C deficiency is still a problem in some populations today, even in children.
Not to be confused with lime on tortilla chip ingredients; that is actually limestone, a substance that helps release and make available the vitamin called niacin or vitamin B3. However, citrus lime is often used to flavor tortilla chips.
The main compounds in lime essential oil are:
- Limonene 52%
- B-Pinene 19%
- Gamma-terpinene 8%
Lime zest and essential oils contain at least 60 beneficial compounds. Way back in 1972, we already knew about 34 of them.
Think about the nuances of the taste of lime. It is exotic, almost intoxicating. We still have more to learn about this exotic citrus, but what we do know is that it is nothing short of medicinal.
That intoxicating smell is likely why limes are iconic for their vacation vibe. Think beach, cocktail, warm summer air. Think the Florida Keys. No wonder we are so drawn to them on vacations; they unmistakably brighten up the mood almost instantly.
Nothing is simplistic when it comes to cold-pressed lime essential oil. Remember that at least 60 compounds are in the zest alone, and this is where the essential oils are extracted.
Limes, or citrus arantifolia, are hybrids of other citrus, including the citron, the mandarin orange, and the pomelo (Citrus maxima). Easily hybridized, limes come in many varieties. Some common varieties include:
- Wild (not a true citrus)
Lime makes almost everything taste just a little bit better. When the lime flavor is gone, I want some more.
Limes as Aromatherapy
Limes are transcendental. We can transport our minds beyond the ordinary just from the aroma. That is because our sense of smell, or aromatherapy, triggers our memory more than any other sense. Lime essential oil is a very concentrated form of the essence of lime (aromatic compounds).
As time goes by, the memory of old favorite faces even fades, but try to picture your favorite childhood food; I’m willing to bet that your memory is crisp. I know mine is.
Quality of Lime Oil Matters
The zest of lime is aptly named; it gives us a zest for life. We might not quite know why, but when we smell that distinctive aroma, it gives us a little pep in our step and a little happy.
You might think all lime essential oils from the zest are the same, but based on science, they can vary a lot in their quality.
The lime essential oil can be cold-pressed or distilled. The cold-pressed form is better because it retains the all healthy compounds from the rind.
Many lime essential oil brands state that they are organic, but if they are steam-distilled, a lot of the quality is lost.
Labels are overly simplified and can be deceptive. Don’t fall for “natural” or “organic”. Brands that claim this can still be processed with dangerous chemicals.
This is why you see confusion about whether or not you can use essential oils internally.
You only should use essential oils such as food-grade or Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils internally because they have at least 16 tests for purity and can carry a supplement label by FDA regulation.
If the supplement label is missing, do not ingest it.
When to Use Lime Essential Oils Instead of Fresh Limes
Using lime essential oil benefits are distinct from fresh limes. If using Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, they are:
- Highly concentrated
- Great in personal products like deodorants
- Helpful in reducing sugar intake
- Able to reduce browning of fruits and vegetables
A drawback to fresh limes is that they tend to be fragile, whether in the refrigerator or on the counter. That is why I was delighted when I discovered lime oil.
The oils are convenient. For instance, I bring some with me when going to a movie theater. Drop a couple of drops in sparkling water, and it tastes and feels so much better than chemical-laden soda.
A little goes a long way. Each bottle has around 250 drops or the zest of over 80 limes.
It is an inexpensive way to also get the following health benefits.
Lime essential oil intensifies your cooking experience and food experience and helps eliminate the need for added sugar. For instance, I add a drop or two to plain yogurt, and then I never miss the sugar.
Trivia: essential oils do not contain oil at all. They are naturally occurring, aromatic compounds that have positive effects on health.
Is Lime Essential Oil Sustainable?
Essential oil production of lime is sustainable. 90% of citrus grown in the United States and Brazil is processed, usually turned to juice.
This means that the oil from the rind is then available for production into essential oil. No additional harvesting or land is required for its production.
Lime Benefits for Health
The health benefits of lime essential oil extend beyond its beneficial aromatherapy effects. Here are 12 scientifically proven ones.
1. Limes Have Antioxidants
Lime essential oil has numerous antioxidant effects on the body. Lime oil scavenges harmful compounds called free radicals. It also reduces the harmful compound from the breakdown of fats, also known as lipid peroxidation.
The antioxidant compounds in lime oil include monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, including 1,8-cineol, α-pinene, β-pinene, and limonene.
2. Limes May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a major contributor to health problems today.
Lime essential oil reduced a very difficult-to-treat inflammatory chemical called 5-lipoxygenase in a cell study. Reducing this compound may help reduce symptoms of asthma, an inflammatory disease.
Lime essential oil reduced both pain and inflammation in an animal study of chemically induced inflammation. The beneficial compound for inflammation in lime oil is citral.
This is part of why lime essential oil also helps reduce allergy symptoms: it reduces inflammatory eosinophils and mast cell granulation.
3. Lime Oil May Help with Digestion
Most research remains preliminary for lime essential oils and digestion, but the active compound in lime oil, called limonene has very promising effects. Most importantly, no negative side effects are seen.
Lime essential oil reduces digestive spasms, or pain, in an animal model.
Limonene in lime oil protects the stomach from a common infection called H. Pylori. It also increases the amount of mucin, which helps protect the stomach lining from damage.
Limonene also increases heat shock protein, which is known to have vast benefits for health!
Some people have dramatic improvements in digestive function when using citrus oils, including lime. These case reports of benefits include a better response for heartburn than drugs used to treat, such as Prilosec and Nexium.
Even better, the citrus oils didn’t have any of the negative side effects that the drugs have. These drugs, while helpful for some, are over-prescribed, and are linked long-term to dementia, memory loss, bone loss, and even cardiovascular diseases.
Lime essential oil may be also helpful in treating or preventing gallstones.
4. Limes May Help Reduce Body Weight
Lime essential oil reduced food intake and weight gain in animals given a drug known to promote weight gain.
In rats, lime peel reduced body weight and cholesterol compared to controls when fed a high-fat diet.
Limonene, the main compound in lime, reduced liver fat, fat cell size, blood fat, and glucose levels in rats.
This is fascinating: the aroma alone of citrus compounds, particularly limonene, reduced appetite and stimulated fat breakdown in rats.
However, more research is needed in humans to confirm these results.
5. Lime May Reduce Cholesterol and Diabetes Parameters
Compounds in citrus oils, including lime oil, may improve metabolic risk factors.
In overweight children, citrus peel given over 1 month improved the function of the blood vessel wall when compared to a placebo.
Lime juice, as well as garlic, reduced glucose in a rat study.
Early research shows that both lime and lemon essential oils may improve cholesterol.
More research is needed to confirm these findings in people.
6. Lime May Help Protect Kidney and Liver Function
In a clinical study of patients with kidney stones, lime powder reduced kidney damage and had an alkalizing effect on the urine.
Lime may help protect against Tylenol-induced liver damage as well.
Like grapefruits, lemons, and oranges, lime oil’s protective effects may be due to its high antioxidant content.
Keep in mind that these studies are considered preliminary.
7. Limes May Improve Mood
Citrus, including lime, are time-honored remedy to brighten the mood. The volatile oils in the peel have an instant effect on the brain by directly affecting the limbic system and in turn our memory and emotional response.
One of the main compounds in lime essential oil, gamma-terpinene, may increase the release of monoamines in the brain. These are brain chemicals that enhance mood.
8. Limes May Help Reduce Cancer
Early cell research shows that lime essential oil has anti-cancer effects against colon, pancreatic, breast, and lymphoma cancers (16).
Limonene, the main component of lime, was given to 43 breast cancer patients with early-stage cancer before surgery at 2 grams per day.
The treatment reduced a protein that is involved in cancer spread (Cyclin D1). Limonene also was detected in breast tissue after supplementation (17).
Limonene protected the colon from the damage of chemotherapy treatment called Cytoxan in mice (18).
However, more research is needed.
9. Limes are Cleansing and Detoxifying
Limonene in lime essential oil has strong antimicrobial and antioxidant effects (21).
More research is needed, of course.
10. Limes Fights Germs
Many plant compounds help our immune system. Why? They all have antimicrobial effects, including lime oil.
Lime essential oil is:
Lime essential oil was able to reduce the growth of both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, including Bacillus cereus, Escherichia faecalis, Staphillococcus aureus, Lysteria monocytogenes, P. aeruginosa, E.coli, S. enteritidis, and K. pneumoniae.
For these reasons, lime oil can reduce the chances of wounds getting infected and even can help reduce acne when diluted on the skin. It has the potential to prevent many kinds of skin infections!
While no direct research has been conducted to determine if lime oil reduces colds, it improves air quality and inflammatory compounds that cause discomfort in colds and cases of flu.
11. Benefits of β-Pinene in Lime Essential Oil
Lime essential oil is high in a compound called β-pinene. β-pinene. found in plants is an organic monoterpene compound. It is one of the main compounds in forest trees that give it a distinctive pine scent.
When exposed to air, other compounds form, including the pinocarveol and myrtenol family.
Its pine-like smell is why lime oil is used as a flavoring and fragrance agent.
β-pinene from essential oils and is also used in food manufacturing to provide flavoring effects to the food.
It is a natural preservative.
12. Lime Essential Oil May Help Reduce Pain
Natural options for pain are important because all over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers carry negative side effects if used often.
Many essential oils reduce pain, and lime is no exception.
β-pinene, one of the main compounds in lime essential oil, has pain-relieving properties in animal studies (R).
Lime oil is a great sore throat oil. Simply gargle with water and lime oil. It really does work.
Lime oil for Cleaning
- It is an inexpensive cleaner, with 2 drops costing only pennies.
- Use a few drops of water for window cleaning
- Remove grease stains and glue easily and safely from surfaces. Apply straight lemon oil and the stain and glue are gone.
- Use to disinfect surfaces, including countertops, floors, toilet bowls, and more.
Diffusing lime essential oil is a great way to feel like you are on vacation and to lift the energy of a room.
It cleanses the air and reduces pet odors and household toxins (toxins in indoor air are over 3 times higher than in outdoor air).
Diffusing lime also repels bugs and pests! I notice that it helps keep bugs away from my indoor plants. It is safe for pets too.
Lime Essential Oil Topical Application
Lime oil can be great to help repel bugs when diffused and is helpful to reduce head lice topically when used with melaleuca oil. Add 20 drops of each to your normal shampoo bottle.
Lime essential oil brightens the skin. Use it diluted in your night moisturizer to reduce the appearance of age spots.
Use diluted lime oil for your cold sores, 3 times daily.
Acne or wound prevention
Massage diluted lime oil into the skin to reduce pain and inflammation.
Make DoTERRA lime roll-on essential oils: add 20 drops to 10 ml fractionated coconut oil in a roll-on bottle for an easy way to apply topically. Mixes well with other citrus oils and rosemary.
Can be used to make natural deodorant too!
- Lime citrus oil is generally safe.
- As with any citrus oil, the topical application should be diluted to avoid skin sensitivity.
- The application should be done 12 hours before exposure to sunlight.
- Use only high-quality lime essential oil that is food-grade when using internally.
- Whenever you change your healthcare regimen, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider.
- When using food-grade lime oil internally, 1-2 drops twice a day are helpful. You don’t need to use more than this.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.