Image source: MorgueFile

Image source: MorgueFile

Essential Oil Research – Limonene Has Great Potential For Breast Cancer

Lately I have been trolling through the vast quantities of research available, specifically looking at a particular little phytochemical known as limonene, found in high quantities in the peels of citrus fruit, and lesser quantities in the pulp of citrus fruit. I am excited to report that the research I have found indicates that limonene has great potential for breast cancer.

Limonene (pronounced lime-oh-neen) is classified as a cyclic terpene and in some research you will also find it referred to as d-limonene. A great way to obtain limonene is through citrus essential oils, more specifically lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, lime, tangerine and orange.

The research I am about to share is mainly about limonene, although citrus essential oils do contain other potent phytochemicals as well.

Research On Limonene Showing Anti-Cancer Potential

A lot of research has been done on limonene, it has been fairly actively studied since the 1970’s and possibly prior to that.  Those early studies done in the 70’s indicated that limonene inhibited the initiation phase of skin cancer.

This website is all about breast cancer, however, so I will limit the research I mention herein to limonene’s helpfulness for breast cancer.  Here we go.

A 2011 study 1 reported that limonene had potential chemotherapeutic properties, exhibited chemopreventive (meaning cancer prevention) effects, was an immune modulator and had anti-proliferative properties.

Another 2011 study 2, although done with lemon fruit extract (LE) and not limonene, showed that the extract induced apoptosis (anti-tumor activity), in vitro (meaning in the test tube), on MCF-7 breast cancer cells. MCF-7 cells are invasive ductal carcinoma with estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) and progesterone-receptor-positive (PR+), and HER2 negative cells.  I have included this one because although the study didn’t specifically study limonene,  it is highly likely that the anti-cancer activity exhibited by the fruit extract was due to its limonene content.

One 2012 study 3 concerned itself with the safety and efficacy of using limonene via orange oil on the breast as an “alternative dosing strategy” and found that limonene is “bio available in mammary tissue after topical orange oil application in mice and this novel route of administration to the breast is safe and feasible in healthy women.”

A study done in 2013 4 on 43 actual women with breast cancer was very interesting. The 43 women were newly diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and about to undergo lumpectomies. The women took 2 gm of limonene daily 2-6 weeks prior to surgery. Limonene was found to “preferentially concentrate in the breast tissue” and reduced breast tumor cyclin D1 (a cell-cycle regulatory protein) expression that could lead to cell-cycle arrest and reduced cell proliferation.  Researchers felt that limonene should continue to be studied to establish its role for breast cancer prevention or treatment.  A subsequent study reported in January 2015 5 came to a similar conclusion, that limonene reduced cyclin D1 in patient tumor tissues.

One Iranian study reported in 2014 6 showed that a combination of an extract from lime peels and the cancer drug doxorubicin increased apoptosis (programmed cell death) in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.

Finally, a study reported in 2014 7 reflected that limonene had anti-inflammatory properties (always important in cancer, which is an inflammatory condition), exhibited “surprising” anti-angiogenesis properties (which relates to a tumor’s ability to invade surrounding tissue by sending out new blood vessels) and was useful for skin healing and tissue regeneration.

A Personal Note And A Bit Of A Soap Box

In the past, I have purposely held back from promotion of essential oils on this website – despite the fact that I have used them successfully myself for the past 16 years – indeed, as a representative for Young Living Essential Oils, we are specifically asked not to say that essential oils will treat or cure any disease. The United States Food & Drug Administration keeps a very close eye on the claims that essential oil representatives make.

I am not telling you to cure your breast cancer using essential oils. I would certainly not rely upon essential oils alone to do that job. But in combination with a holistic regimen of nutrition and other lifestyle changes, together with chemotherapy and radiation (should you choose to go that route) I believe that essential oils can be an extremely beneficial healing tool and chemopreventive aid.

New and exciting research is being released nearly daily now on the healing properties of essential oils and it is proof positive and undeniable. The authorities absolutely cannot keep a lid on this any longer and we are sick of being silenced.


1.  d-Limonene: a bioactive food component from citrus and evidence for a potential role in breast cancer prevention and treatment –

2.  Apoptosis-mediated inhibition of human breast cancer cell proliferation by lemon citrus extract –

3.  Safety and Feasibility of Topical Application of Limonene as a Massage Oil to the Breast –

4.  Human Breast Tissue Disposition and Bioactivity of Limonene in Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer –

5.  Plasma metabolomic profiles of breast cancer patients after short-term limonene intervention –

6. Combination of Ethanolic Extract of Citrus aurantifolia Peels with Doxorubicin Modulate Cell Cycle and Increase Apoptosis Induction on MCF-7 Cells  –

7.  Skin repair properties of d-Limonene and perillyl alcohol in murine models –

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Member No 267494

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