Limonene: Aroma of innovation in health and disease

Chem Biol Interact. 2018 Mar 1:283:97-106. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2018.02.007. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Natural products obtained in dietary components may aid the prevention and treatment of a variety of diseases. Reports in the scientific literature have demonstrated that the consumption of terpenes is a successful alternative in the treatment of several diseases, triggering beneficial biological effects in clinical and preclinical studies. The monoterpene limonene is largely used in alimentary items, cleaning products, and it is one of the most frequent fragrances used in cosmetics formulation. The therapeutic effects of limonene have been extensively studied, proving anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antinociceptive, anticancer, antidiabetic, antihyperalgesic, antiviral, and gastroprotective effects, among other beneficial effects in health. In this review, we collected, presented, and analyzed evidence from the scientific literature regarding the usage of limonene and its activities and underlying mechanisms involved in combating diseases. The highlighting of limonene applications could develop a useful targeting of innovative research in this field as well as the development of a limonene-based phytomedicine which could be used in a variety of conditions of health and disease.

Keywords: Biological activity; Citrus; Essential oil; Limonene; Terpenes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / chemistry
  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cyclohexenes / chemistry
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology
  • Cyclohexenes / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Limonene
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Metabolic Syndrome / pathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / pharmacology
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Terpenes
  • Limonene