Lime Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
Be it acne, toothache, respiratory problems, or digestive issues, lime oil benefits are phenomenal. However, the use of lime essential oil isn’t new. It dates back to the ancient Egyptian times when people used it to deodorize their bodies and homes.
Let’s understand about lime oil in detail.
What Is Lime Oil?
Lime oil is a volatile byproduct of the lime tree, which is obtained from its dried peels and leaves. It has innumerable medicinal and culinary uses, which are also backed by research.
Lime oil is widely used in aromatherapy for making different blends, due to its refreshing and stimulating scents. It is an antiviral, astringent, antibacterial, disinfectant, and a natural antiseptic. (1)
These properties make it a versatile essential oil to heal infections, disinfect food, reduce fever, and prevent aging signs.
Scientific Name Of Lime Oil
The botanical name of lime is Citrus aurantifolia.
History Of Lime Oil
Lime is also known as christm, and its origin dates back to 4000 BC from South East Asia. It is a medicinal as well as a food plant that is widely grown in many parts of the world.
Generally, Citrus aurantifolia grows well in hot subtropical or tropical regions such as Southern Florida, Egypt, India, Mexico, and the West Indies.
The other popular names include key lime, sour lime, dayap, Mexican lime, bilolo, Egyptian lime, and Indian lime.
The plant belongs to the following categories:
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Rutaceae
- Genus: Citrus
The lime tree possesses short & stiff thorns and is dense. It is shrubby and grows up to five meters in height, bearing fruits throughout the year. However, the quantity of fruits is abundant from May to September.
The flowers are yellowish white. The fruits grow 3 – 6 centimeters in diameter and are globose to ovoid berry in shape.
For commercial use, they pick the fruits when they are green, but when we let them ripe, they turn yellow. Lime juice is incredibly popular and has innumerable medicinal benefits such as preventing the growth of HIV by a thousand folds.
The rind/ pericarp of citrus aurantifolia fruit yields 7% essential oil, which has innumerable health benefits. Other benefits are discussed in the below section.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Lime Oil
- The color of lime oil is pale yellow to light olive.
- The consistency of lime oil is thin.
- The smell of lime oil is fresh, sweet, tangy, and citrusy.
Properties Of Lime Essential Oil
The medicinal properties of lime oil include:
- Flavoring – Increases organoleptic properties such as taste, smell, and feel
- Fragrant – Has a pleasing aroma which makes it useful in perfume, personal, and household products
- Anti-inflammatory – Prevents inflammatory signs such as pain, redness, and swelling
- Antioxidant – Prevents oxidation and diseases such as cancer
- Anti-obese – Prevents excessive weight gain
- Astringent – Prevents excess oil production and prevents bleeding from minor skin issues such as abrasions
- Toner – Reduces oiliness and keeps the skin firm
- Antifungal – Effective against fungi
- Antimicrobial – Exerts strong activity against harmful bacteria
- Anticancer – Effective against cancerous cells
- Anticholinesterase – Fights nerve and muscle diseases
- Spasmolytic – Prevents muscle spasms
- Anti-depressive – Fights depression
Chemical Compounds In Lime Oil
Lime oil primarily constitutes these compounds:
D-limonene, D-dihydrocarvone, Limoniods, Flavonoids, Methanol, Ethyl acetate, Beta-pinene, Gamma-terpinene, α-terpineol, Terpinen-4-ol, 1,4-cineole , 1,8-cineole, β-pinene, p-cymene, β- bisabolene, 3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadien-1-ol, Geraniol, E-citral, Z-citral, β-ocimene, verbena, β-linalool, α-terpinol, Trans- α –bergamotene, Fenchon, Terpineol, and Bisabolene.
Health Benefits Of Lime Oil
The most noteworthy lime oil benefits include:
1. Effective against cancerous cells
When the body cells grow abnormally, the condition is known as a lump or a tumor. When those abnormal cells spread from one part of the body to the other, they are known as malignant tumors or cancer.
Usually, cells live for a certain period and then, die. But cancer cells don’t die, but only keep multiplying. The oil extracted from Citrus aurantifolia inhibits the growth of colon (intestine) cancer cells by 78%.
D-limonene, limonoids, flavonoids, and D-dihydrocarvone present in the lime essential oil have anticancer properties. The study also says that lime oil can prevent colon cancer, as it works via mechanisms such as DNA fragmentation and apoptosis (2).
2. Fights against bacteria
A study published in 2012 talks about the antibacterial activity of the leaf oil of C.Aurantifolia. According to the study reports, methanol and ethyl acetate present in the oil proved effective against a few disease-causing bacteria like:
- Bacillus cereus
- Enterobacter faecalis
- Escherichia coli
- Klebsiella pneumonia
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Salmonella paratyphi
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Proteus vulgaris
- Serratia marcescens
Also, the antibacterial activity of lime oil is comparable to the standard antibiotics (medicines that help kill bacteria) such as ofloxacin, tobramycin, gentamicin sulfate, and ciprofloxacin (3).
3. Gets rid of free radicals
The compounds ethyl acetate and methanol present in lime essential oil have antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are the chemical compounds that help in preventing oxidation, a process that forms harmful substances called free radicals. Free radicals cause diseases and fasten aging.
A paper published in the Asian Journal of Biochemical and Pharmaceutical research states that the synergistic effect of bioactive compounds present in the Citrus aurantifolia essential oil contributes to the antioxidant activities.
The study also confirms ethyl acetate and methanol present in lime oil are so potent that they can be used in medicines, which are popular antioxidants.
Another study published in 2018 confirms citrus aurantifolia oil has promising antioxidant properties.
A study published in 2018 states the essential oil obtained from Omani lime leaves is high in D-limonene. Thus, it’s useful in the pharmaceutical industry. Thanks to their safe toxicological profiles. (4)
4. Eases cold symptoms
Due to the rich vitamin C content, the lime essential oil is an immune booster. It helps you prevent and clear infections such as cold, sore throat, bronchitis, and flu.
Flu is a disease wherein there is fever, runny, stuffy nose, fatigue/ weakness, and throat infection.
When you have a sore throat, you will experience throat pain, stuffy nose, runny nose, fever, and difficulties in swallowing.
Bronchitis is the inflammation of airways wherein your cold and fever last longer than a few weeks. It has severe symptoms along with difficulty in breathing, coughing, and stiffness in the chest. (5)
5. Adds amazing flavor
Lime essential oil can flavor your drinks, foods, sweets, and medicines. Thanks to the sharp, fresh, and terpene-like flavor of lime oil.
It improves the organoleptic properties such as the sense of taste, smell, and texture. You can add a drop of oil to your favorite punch, salsa, marinade, or pudding. (6)
6. Good for body & home care
Lime oil is commonly used in perfumes, soaps, body oil, hair creams, cosmetics, and home cleaning products. The fragrance of Citrus aurantifolia oil makes it useful in cosmetics.
It has an astringent action, and prevents the production of excess oil in your skin as well as your hair, leaving them smelling great.
This astringent property helps clear the acne, treats cuts, insect bites, and is also useful in herpes (A virus that causes contagious sores, frequently around the genitals or mouth). Remember to dilute it while using. Else, it can cause adverse reactions.
You may add just a few drops of the oil to your homemade soaps or beauty products. (7)
7. Prevents obesity
A study reports that lime essential oil has anorexic (loss of appetite) properties; thus, it can help in weight loss. Obesity is when you weigh much above your healthy weight. Obesity is one of the common health problems worldwide.
It needs a serious intervention, as it can be deadly because it paves the way for several other diseases.
However, lime oil is reported to facilitate weight loss. During a study, researchers divided mice into two groups. They fed one group of mice with lime oil whereas the other group was left as such.
The group of mice that had lime oil ate less food, and also lost weight in comparison to the other group.
In another study researchers administered lime oil with ketotifen; it opposed the weight gain in mice. Ketotifen is an antihistaminic drug, which has an association with weight gain.
Antihistamines are medicines that reduce allergic reactions such as runny nose and watery eyes.
Few mice had ketotifen for 45 days, and at the end of which the mice ate more, and also weighed higher. Then, the researchers gave lime oil to mice, along with ketotifen during the experimental period.
At the end of it, the results said there was a reduction in weight gain in mice, and also they ate less. These outcomes confirmed that lime oil has anorexia properties. The study suggests lime oil can be useful to deal with drug-induced obesity. (8)
8. Effective against fungi
Citrus aurntifolia oil prevents the growth of the following fungi:
- Phaeoramularia angolensis
- Candida albicans
- Aspergillus parasiticus and its aflatoxins
- Aspergillus niger
Thanks to the monoterpenes present in the oil. Due to its antifungal actions, C. aurntifolia plant is popular as a fungicide (kills fungi) for the citrus fruit crop. (9)
The research also says that C. aurntifolia plant may be a potential candidate for protecting food and feeds from toxigenic fungal growth and their aflatoxin contamination.
*Aflatoxin is a type of toxin.
9. Relieves muscle spasms
Citrus aurantifolia oil has spasmolytic properties too. When it was tested on the organs of rabbits, the researchers concluded that lime oil has important spasmolytic properties. Researchers studied the spasmolytic effect on smooth muscles.
The lime oil reduces the muscle tone as well as the magnitude of contractions. The oil also prevents the nerve-induced spasms at least partially. (10)
10. Helps overcome depression
Depression is a state wherein a person is sad, he/she doesn’t find life enjoyable, and if it is left unobserved, the victim might have suicidal thoughts too.
Lime oil is popular as an antidepressant. It helps you refresh and stimulate your mind. The essential oil can also help you be more assertive. Try diffusing it using a diffuser or a vaporizer. (11)
What Blends With Lime Oil?
Lime oil blends the best with the following essential oils:
How To Use Lime Oil?
- Lime oil goes rancid faster. Hence, it is best to store it in the fridge.
- You can add a drop of lime oil when you are making marinade, salsa, punch, or pudding.
- Do not add lime essential oil to water as it doesn’t mix well, and can harm your mucous membrane.
- You can add a few drops of lime oil to your conditioner or shampoo. They can make your oil shinier while preventing excess oil production by your scalp.
- You can add a few drops of lime essential oil to your homemade soap.
- Add a few drops of lime essential oil to your favorite moisturizer, and it will help you control excess sebum/oil production in your face. Lime oil helps bring oily skin to normal skin.
- Take a whiff of lime oil to help you be more assertive in certain situations.
- Diffusing a few drops of lime oil relaxes and calms the mind.
- Add lime essential oil to your bath powder/ Epsom salt/ a carrier oil to tone your body. Using essential oils for bathing is a great way to tone your body.
Side Effects Of Lime Oil
- Phototoxicity/sensitivity to light: Do not go out in the sun/ sunlight after applying lime oil. It can make your skin sensitive. Few cases of tumors on the skin and forestomach skin are reported due to phototoxicity. Thus, make sure you have cleared the oil before you step out in the sun.
- A study says aurantifolia can cause myelotoxicity – a phenomenon wherein the body produces a low number of immunity-producing cells. Thus, be sure to speak to your doctor before you start using the oil especially if you are pregnant/nursing/suffering from any disease/have any allergy/are on medications.
- Always use lime oil with a carrier oil to prevent harm to your skin especially mucous membranes. Remember, lime oil doesn’t mix with water directly.