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D-Limonene

Health Benefits, Uses, Tips & Much More

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Updated January 08, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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:

1) Cancer

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).

2) Heartburn

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.

If you're seeking a natural remedy for bronchitis, some studies show that the herbs slippery elm and umcka may be beneficial.

In addition, some research suggests that such herbs as licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow may help fight heartburn.

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.

Sources

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.

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