D-limonene is a compound extracted from the peels of citrus fruits. Sold in dietary supplement form, D-limonene is said to offer a variety of health benefits. Some proponents claim that D-limonene can help treat or prevent cancer.
Uses for D-Limonene
D-limonene is purported to prevent and treat cancer by killing cancer cells.
In addition, D-limonene is said to promote weight loss, as well as treat bronchitis and heartburn. D-limonene is also thought to reduce inflammation.
Health Benefits of D-Limonene:
So far, few studies have tested the health effects of D-limonene. However, some preliminary studies suggest that it may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on D-limonene:
A number of preliminary studies published in the 1990s indicate that D-limonene may help fight cancer. In a research review published in Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis in 1994, for instance, researchers analyzed the available research on D-limonene and determined that it may help inhibit the growth of tumors and possibly protect against breast cancer.
More recent research on D-limonene and cancer includes a 2012 study from Human & Experimental Toxicology, in which tests on mice revealed that D-limonene may help protect against skin cancer in part by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
In addition, a 2012 study published in Life Sciences suggests that D-limonene may help fight colon cancer. In tests on human cells, the study's authors found that D-limonene may protect against colon cancer by inducing apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells).
D-limonene may aid in the treatment of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), according to a research review published in Alternative Medicine Review in 2007. According to the report, D-limonene may help treat heartburn and GERD by neutralizing gastric acid and promoting normal peristalsis (the contraction of muscles in the digestive tract).
See Heartburn Remedies: 7 Natural Treatments to Consider for other natural remedies for heartburn.
Is D-Limonene Safe?
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of D-limonene supplements.
Given the lack of clinical trials testing the anti-cancer effects of D-limonene, it's too soon to recommend D-limonene as a treatment of any type of cancer.
It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with D-limonene and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of D-limonene in treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician prior to starting your supplement regimen.
Learn more about using dietary supplements safely.
Alternatives to D-Limonene:
Although it's too soon to recommend D-limonene for cancer prevention, several other natural remedies may help strengthen your defense against cancer. For instance, there's some evidence that maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D and increasing your intake of green tea and omega-3 fatty acids may offer some anti-cancer benefits.
Where to Find It
Widely available for purchase online, D-limonene supplements can be found in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.
Chaudhary SC, Siddiqui MS, Athar M, Alam MS. "D-Limonene modulates inflammation, oxidative stress and Ras-ERK pathway to inhibit murine skin tumorigenesis." Hum Exp Toxicol. 2012 Aug;31(8):798-811.
Chidambara Murthy KN, Jayaprakasha GK, Patil BS. "D-limonene rich volatile oil from blood oranges inhibits angiogenesis, metastasis and cell death in human colon cancer cells." Life Sci. 2012 Oct 5;91(11-12):429-39.
Crowell PL, Gould MN. "Chemoprevention and therapy of cancer by d-limonene." Crit Rev Oncog. 1994;5(1):1-22.
Sun J. "D-Limonene: safety and clinical applications." Altern Med Rev. 2007 Sep;12(3):259-64.
Vigushin DM, Poon GK, Boddy A, English J, Halbert GW, Pagonis C, Jarman M, Coombes RC. "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(2):111-7.