Are There Health Benefits to Taking Limonene?

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on September 19, 2022
3 min read

Limonene is a compound known as a terpene, many of which are known for their strong scents and flavors. Limonene itself is responsible for the distinctive smell and taste of citrus fruits.

Limonene can be found in most citrus-flavored products because of how effective it is at adding flavor. Today, it can also be found in supplement form and early studies have linked limonene to a number of health benefits.

Like many terpenes, limonene appears to interact with a number of systems in the body. Studies are still being done on how limonene in particular affects your health, but early results suggest limonene may have several health benefits.

Currently, studies suggest that limonene may provide benefits like:

Reduced Inflammation

Consuming limonene may help reduce chronic inflammation in the body. While more studies must be done, early trials suggest that limonene may help reduce a number of factors connected to chronic inflammation. Since inflammation factors into a number of chronic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain forms of cancer, reducing inflammation may help lower your risk of developing these conditions and improve the health of people living with them. 

Antioxidant Effects

Limonene acts as an antioxidant in the body, absorbing and removing damaging free radicals before they can injure cells. Dietary limonene may help lower your risk of certain cancers and signs of aging by reducing the amount of oxidative stress on your body. While more research must be done on the subject, current results are promising.

Improved Heart Health

Early trials suggest that limonene may be good for your heart and coronary health. One study suggests that consuming limonene may help reduce triglycerides and lower blood sugar levels. It may also help increase “good” cholesterol levels. These are all signs of improved heart health, connected to a lower risk of atherosclerosis and coronary events.

Although limonene offers many health benefits and may improve the body’s overall function, taking limonene supplements does carry some risk.

Limonene is easily broken down by the body. It would be difficult to overdose on this compound because your body can usually flush out the excess before it affects you. However, in very high doses, people may notice unpleasant side effects to taking limonene. 

Nausea and Vomiting

Limonene is safe to consume, but consuming more than eight grams per day can lead to nausea and vomiting in some people. This is a temporary symptom and will dissipate once the excess limonene is out of your system.

Skin Irritation

Limonene is occasionally sold in the form of an essential oil. Adding this essential oil to foods or skin products is not recommended. In this pure form, limonene can cause skin irritation and soreness. Essential oils should always be used cautiously to avoid this type of sensitivity.

Pregnancy Concerns

The effect of taking limonene supplements on people who are pregnant or breastfeeding has not been studied. While there are no signs that consuming limonene in the amount normally found in food causes any problems, people who are pregnant should consult with their physician before taking supplements to avoid unknown problems.

Limonene and its effect on the body have not yet been studied extensively. Existing studies on limonene appear to indicate that a dose of two grams of limonene per day can safely be consumed by most adults. If you do not want to take limonene as a supplement, you can safely consume the nutrient by adding more citrus fruits, juices, and zests to your diet.