Lime Essential Oil: History, Sustainability, and 8 Health Benefits


Limes are transcendental. We can transport our minds beyond the ordinary just from the aroma. That is because our sense of smell triggers our memory more than any other sense.

Think of a good childhood memory and food is undoubtedly integral to the memory; it gives the memory more context. Likely, the food memory is rooted and stored deeply in your mind due to the smell. 

As time goes by, memory for old favorite faces even fade, but try to picture your favorite childhood food; I’m willing to bet that your memory is crisp. I know mine is. 

I love all things food and plants, and I’ve got limes on my mind.  What is it, exactly, that gives lime its distinctive flavor and characteristic aroma?

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The Complexity of a Lime

Research is slightly scant about the exotic lime relative to its out-of this-world flavor.  But this in no way deters me from its use because its compounds have some pretty astounding health benefits in early research. 

Nutrition profiles and labels are overly simplified.  Nothing is simplistic when it comes to a lime; it has at least 60 compounds in the zest alone, and this is where the essential oils are extracted. 

Think about the nuances of the taste of a lime.  It is exotic, almost intoxicating.  We still have more to learn about this exotic citrus, but what we do know is that it is nothing short of medicinal. 

That intoxicating smell is likely why limes are iconic for their vacation vibe.  Think beach, cocktail, warm summer air.  Think Florida Keys.  No wonder we are so drawn to them on vacations; they unmistakably brighten up the mood almost instantly

Lime makes almost everything taste just a little bit better.   When the lime flavor is gone, I want some more.   

I think it bears repeating.  Lime zest and essential oils contain at least 60 beneficial compounds.  Way back in 1972, we already knew about 34 of them  (1,2).

Selected Compounds With Health Benefits in Lime Essential Oil  

  • Limonene 52%

  • B-Pinene 19%

  • Gamma-terpinene 8%

History of Limes

Limes, or citrus arantifolia, are hybrids of other citrus, including the citron, the mandarin orange,  and the pomelo (Citrus maxima). Easily hybridized, limes come in many varieties. Some common varieties include:

  • Kaffir

  • Key

  • Musk

  • Persian

  • Spanish

  • Wild (not a true citrus)

  • Limequat

  • Sweet


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The true origin of limes is unknown, but could be from the Southeast Asia region.   I was sad to find out that little is known about this exquisite plants’ origins.  

Trivia:  Lime oil is used in making perfume for men. Limes were used on boats by British sailors in the 19th century to prevent scurvy.  Vitamin C deficiency is still a problem in some populations today, even in children. 

Not to be confused with lime on tortilla chip ingredients; that is actually limestone, a substance that helps release and make available the vitamin called niacin or vitamin B3. However, citrus lime is often used to flavor tortilla chips.

Is Lime Essential Oil Sustainable? 

Essential oil production of lime is sustainable.  90% of citrus grown in the United States and Brazil is processed, usually turned to juice. 

This means that the oil from the rind is then available for production into essential oil. No additional harvesting or land is required for its production.

Doterra essential oil of lime is sourced from Brazil.  All Doterra oils are 100% pesticide and herbicide free as well. 

Lime essential oil from Doterra is cold-pressed. 

Why Use Lime Essential Oil

The zest of a lime is aptly named; it gives us a zest for life.  We might not quite know why, but when we smell that distinctive aroma, it gives us a little pep in our step and a little happy.  

A drawback to fresh limes is that they tend to be fragile, whether in the refrigerator or on the counter.  That is why I was delighted when I discovered the lime oil from Doterra. 

The oils are convenient.  For instance, I bring some with me when going to a movie theatre.  Drop a couple drops in sparkling water, and it tastes and feels so much better than chemical-laden soda. 

A little goes a long way.  Each bottle has around 250 drops, or the zest of over 80 limes.

It is an inexpensive way to get the following health benefits. 

Lime essential oil intensifies your cooking experience and food experience and helps eliminate the need for added sugar.  For instance, I add a drop or two to plain yogurt, and then I never miss the sugar.

Trivia: essential oils do not contain oil at all.  They are the naturally occurring, aromatic compounds that have positive effects on health. 

Lime Oil May Help Digestion

In rabbits, lime essential oil reduced digestive spasms. (3).

Many people use citrus oils, including lime to help with digestive issues, including nausea.  Check out my blog about lemon and indigestion

Some people have dramatic improvements in digestive function when using citrus oils including lime.  These case reports of benefits include a better response for heartburn than drugs use to treat, such as Prilosec and Nexium.

Even better, the citrus oils didn’t have any of the negative side effects that the drugs have. These drugs, while helpful for some, are over-prescribed, and are linked long-term to dementia, memory loss, bone loss, and even cardiovascular diseases (4).

Lime essential oil may be also helpful in treating or preventing gallstones

Lime Essential Oil May Help Reduce Body Weight

Lime essential oil reduced food intake and weight gain in animals given a drug known to promote weight gain (5). 

In rats, lime peel reduced body weight and cholesterol compared to controls when fed a high-fat diet (6). 

Limonene, a main compound in lime, reduced liver fat, fat cell size, blood fat and glucose levels in rats (7). 

This is fascinating:  the aroma alone of grapefruit compounds, particularly limonene, reduced appetite and stimulated fat breakdown in rats (8). 

Lime May Reduce Cholesterol and Diabetes Parameters

In overweight children, citrus peel given over 1 month improved the function of the blood vessel wall when compared to placebo (9). 

Lime juice as well as garlic reduced glucose in rat study (9).

Early research shows that lime and lemon essential oils may improve cholesterol (10). 

Lime May Help Protect Kidney and Liver Function

In a clinical study of patients with kidney stones, lime powder reduced kidney damage and had an alkalizing effect on the urine (11). 

Lime may help protect against Tylenol-induced liver damage as well (12). 

Like grapefruits, lemons, and oranges, lime oil’s protective effects may be due to their high antioxidant content (13). 

Lime Essential Oil May Improve Mood

Citrus, including lime, are time-honored remedies to brighten mood.  The volatile oils in the peel have an instant effect on the brain by directly affecting the limbic system and in turn our memory and emotional response. 

Limonene, the main compound in lime essential oil, was able to reduce anxiety symptoms in rats (14). 

One of the main compounds in lime essential oil, gamma terpinene, may increase the release of monoamines in the brain (15). These are brain chemicals that enhance mood. 

Lime Essential Oil May Help Reduce Cancer

Early cell research shows that lime essential oil has anti-cancer effects against colon, pancreatic, breast and lymphoma cancers (16). 

Limonene, the main component of lime, was given to 43 breast cancer patients with early-stage cancer before surgery at 2 grams per day.  The treatment reduced a protein that is involved in cancer spread (Cyclin D1).  Limonene also was detected in breast tissue after supplementation (17). 

Limonene protected the colon from the damage of chemotherapy treatment called Cytoxan in mice (18). 

Lime Essential Oil Is Cleansing and Detoxifying

Citrus tend to have strong antibacterial, anti-parasitic, and antifungal activities, and lime is a star among them (1920).

Limonene in lime essential oil has strong antimicrobial and antioxidant effects (21). 

Lime essential oil also may reduce toxins (aflatoxin), a risk factor for certain kinds of cancer (22). 

 β-Pinene in Lime Essential Oil 

Lime essential oil is high in a compound called β-pinene. β-pinene. found in plants is an organic monoterpene compound.  It is one of the main compounds in forest trees that give it a distinctive pine scent. 

When exposed to air, other compounds form, including the pinocarveol and myrtenol family.  

Its pine-like smell is why lime oil is used as a flavoring and fragrance agent.

β-pinene from essential oils and is also used in food manufacturing to provide flavoring effects to the food.

It is a natural preservative.

Lime Essential Oil May Help Reduce Pain

β-pinene, one of the main compounds in lime essential oil, has pain relieving properties in animal studies (R). 

Practical Uses for Lime Essential Oil

Here is a great little video about lime essential oil 


I add lime essential oil to:

  • Smoothies 

  • Protein shakes 

  • Chia pudding

  • Coffee

  • Sparkling water

  • Tea

 All the citrus essential oils from Doterra are delicious;  I am especially fond of the lime oil because it makes me feel like I’m somewhere tropical.

Lime oil is a great little oil for a sore throat.  Simply gargle with water and lime oil.  It really does work. 

It is an inexpensive cleaner, with 2 drops costing only pennies. 

Diffusing lime essential oil is a great way to feel like you are on vacation and to lift the energy of a room. 

It cleanses the air and reduces pet odors and household toxins (toxins with indoor air are over 3 times higher than outdoor air). 

Lime essential oil brightens the skin.  Use it diluted in your night moisturizer to reduce the appearance of age spots. 


  • Lime citrus oil is generally safe.

  • As with any citrus oil,  topical application should be diluted to avoid skin sensitivity.

  • Application should be 12 hours before exposure to sunlight.

  • Use only high quality oil (I recommend Doterra)

  • Whenever you change your healthcare regimen, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider. 

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.

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