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Everything You Need To Know About D-Limonene

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This Citrus Derivative Might Be Just What The Doctor Ordered

What Is D-Limonene?

D-Limonene is a common terpene found in the rinds of fruits in the Rutaceae family. D-Limonene was first isolated from the rind of lemons (which is where the name “D-Limonene” comes from) but D-Limonene is also found in the rinds of oranges, limes and other citrus fruits.  D-Limonene is what gives citrus fruits their distinctive smell.

D-Limonene is usually extracted from citrus rinds––most often from oranges––via steam distillation or centrifugal extraction. It is a colorless liquid oil at room temperature.

What Is D-Limonene Used For?

D-Limonene is added to a wide variety of products, including cleaning products, beauty products and food products. It is commonly used as a fragrance in a wide variety of products, as well. D-Limonene is often added to pharmaceutical skin creams to assist in transdermal absorption. All in all, it has a wide variety of industrial and commercial uses.

What Are The Benefits of D-Limonene?

In addition to the number of industrial and commercial uses, D-Limonene has a number of interesting health benefits, as well.

D–Limonene Is A Potent Anti-fungal and Anti-Microbial

D-Limonene has long been a product recommended by Doug Kaufmann for The Kaufmann Diets because of its potent anti-fungal properties. One study showed that D-Limonene had broad-spectrum fungiotoxic properties against food-contaminating molds and completely inhibited the production of aflatoxins, even at 250ppm. (1) In another study, D-Limonene showed potent antifungal activity against the fungus, T. rubrum, which is a fungus responsible for onychomycosis, or nail fungus. Even 72 hours after removing D-Limonene from the culture, there was no observable resumption of fungal growth, meaning that D-Limonene had completely destroyed this particular fungus. (2) (It is not recommended to use D-Limonene topically as it can cause skin irritation.) It has been shown that D-Limonene is non-mammalian toxic (1), is generally recognized as safe and is considered to have fairly low toxicity. (3) This makes D-Limonene a valuable supplement to have in your Anti-fungal regimen.

The Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of D-Limonene

D-Limonene is a monoterpene. Terpenes are potent antioxidants, and anti-oxidants are known for providing anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation, of course, is considered an underlying cause of virtually all “Western” disease, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and other diseases. Knowing this, D-Limonene might have broad-spectrum diseases prevention benefits, like other anti-oxidant rich substances. It’s antioxidant properties have been noted in some studies. (1)

D-Limonene Is Beneficial For Digestive Problems.

One of the most well-known benefits provided by D-Limonene is that it can relieve heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It does this by neutralizing gastric acid and promoting peristalsis. D-Limonene is known to assist people in maintaining regularity and might be beneficial for people that struggle with this particular problem. Its anti-inflammatory properties ostensibly can assist in calming inflammation in the intestines, which may be helpful for people with colitis and other diseases that involve inflammation of the gut.

Because of its potent Anti-fungal properties, D-Limonene might also be beneficial for eliminating yeast overgrowth throughout the gut, again making it a valuable addition to the Kaufmann Diet and your Anti-fungal regimen.

D–Limonene Possesses Cardiovascular Benefits.

D-Limonene is known to dissolve cholesterol, meaning that it might provide support for healthy cholesterol levels and overall heart health. There is some evidence that D-Limonene might promote healthy blood pressure levels, as well.

The cholesterol-dissolving properties of D-Limonene also make it beneficial for gallbladder health; D-Limonene is useful in dissolving gallstones, which are primarily made up of cholesterol.

D–Limonene Might Help Treat And Prevent Cancer.

One of the exciting aspects of D-Limonene is its potential for anti-cancer properties. D-Limonene has been shown in the lab to kill certain cancer cells (causing a process known as apoptosis), including pancreatic, stomach, colon, skin and liver cancers. It is suspected that D-Limonene might assist in preventing cancer, as well; some studies showed that it prevented or slowed tumor growth following exposure to cancer-causing agents.

D-Limonene has also been used in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs with some success; it was found to compound the efficacy of those drugs making them more effective at killing cancer cells.

D–Limonene And Weight Loss 

D–Limonene acts as an appetite suppressant, meaning that it might be beneficial for weight loss and maintenance. One study in rats showed that the animals decreased food consumption when given D-Limonene. Other studies have observed similar effects in other animals.

D–Limonene Might Have Benefits For The Liver

The liver is the body’s natural, first-line of defense in detoxification, and there is evidence that D-Limonene can assist in this process. D-Limonene aids the liver in detoxification by supporting Phase I and Phase II detoxification enzymes. D-Limonene might also be beneficial in helping prevent fatty liver disease.

D-Limonene and Anxiety

Some studies have shown D-Limonene to be beneficial for anxiety and insomnia. This effect is apparent both when it is consumed or inhaled. D–Limonene is likely responsible for the aromatherapeutic benefits that are attributed to citrus essential oils.


D-Limonene Cleaners

Another use for D-Limonene is its addition to citrus cleaners for the home. Many of these are non-toxic substitutions for the more toxic varieties of cleaners typically used to keep our homes clean. Since D-Limonene exhibits potent Anti-fungal properties, it is particularly attractive to those on the Kaufmann Diet. Indoor mold presents another method of exposure to mold spores and mycotoxins, and mitigating that risk is an important part of cultivating the Kaufmann Lifestyle.

An added benefit of cleaning your home with cleaners containing citrus oil is the aromatherapeutic qualities of D-Limonene. Citrus oils have been shown to induce calm and relieve anxiety when inhaled. In addition to cleaning your home with these types of citrus cleaners, it may also be beneficial to diffuse these oils in your home.

D-Limonene and The Kaufmann Diet

D-Limonene can easily be added into your Kaufmann Diet regimen. Eating citrus fruit will allow you to get some D-Limonene in your diet, but likely not in sufficient amounts to glean the therapeutic benefits of the nutrient. Furthermore, some of the citrus fruits in which D-Limonene is found, such as oranges, are not permitted on the Kaufmann Diet due to high sugar content. Others, such as lemons, limes and grapefruit, however, are encouraged. Regardless, this is a particular instance in which supplementation may be the best route for getting all the inherent benefits of D-Limonene.

Supplemental D-Limonene is likely available at your local health food store. Most integrative practitioners suggest taking anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000mg daily with food to get the inherent benefits. (By comparison, eating two servings of citrus––including the peels––would only provide around 75mg.)

D-Limonene is non-toxic, but taking high doses can cause loose stools, tiredness (because of the inherent anti-anxiety effects), or nausea (as D-Limonene helps clean out the gallbladder, stimulating the release of bile). As always, it is best to talk to your doctor before beginning or changing any diet or supplement regimen.

Citrus oil can cause contact dermatitis, so it is best to avoid applying it directly to your skin, particularly in large amounts.

One way to integrate D-Limonene into your Kaufmann Lifestyle is by swapping your toxic cleaners out for citrus cleaners. These are safe and effective, great for preventing mold colonization and have the benefit of making your home smell citrusy. These are available at health and natural food stores, but you can also often find them at hardware stores, as well.

Diffusing citrus essential oils, too, might be a good way to help keep your home mold-free. As an added benefit, you can glean the aromatherapeutic properties of D-Limonene, as well.



(1) Singh, Priyanka, et al. “Chemical Profile, Antifungal, Antiaflatoxigenic and Antioxidant Activity of Citrus Maxima Burm. and Citrus Sinensis (L.) Osbeck Essential Oils and Their Cyclic Monoterpene, Dl-Limonene.” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 48, no. 6, 2010, pp. 1734–1740., doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.04.001.

(2) Reddy, K R, and S Ram Reddy. “In Vitro Antifungal Susceptibility Of Griseofulvin, Fluconazole, Itraconazole, And Terbinafine Against Clinical Isolates Of Trichophyton Rubrum And Trichophyton Mentagrophytes.” Asian Journal of Health Sciences, vol. 2, no. 1, 2014, doi:10.15419/ajhs.v2i1.420.

(3) Sun, J. “D-Limonene: Safety and Clinical Applications.” Alternative Medical Review, vol. 12, no. 3, Sept. 2007, pp. 259–264.

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