D-Limonene: Help for Digestion, Metabolism, Detoxification, Mood

By Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

February 27, 2013

D-Limonene: Help for Digestion, Metabolism, Detoxification, Mood
D-Limonene, an oil nutrient called a terpene, is an amazing natural compound found in lemon and orange peels. It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, offers assistance for a variety of metabolic and health problems and helps with weight management.

As a health compound, it has shown a wonderful ability to help with a variety of health issues including improving digestion, occasional acid reflux and sluggish bowel. It is a unique fat cleanser and helps clear cholesterol sludge including the sludge in the gall bladder. Another aspect of cleansing assistance is that it also helps liver detoxification enzymes. Its calming properties help settle nerves and therefore can be used as a natural sleep aid. It helps reduce appetite and improve metabolism, making it one more nutrient to assist with healthy weight management.

All plants synthesize terpenes and they are used by the plant as a natural defense against insects and environmental stress and to repair injuries and wounds. People naturally ingest a wide variety of terpenes in the diet, which is essential for good health. For example, all carotenes are terpenes. Many of the medicinal properties of herbs and plants are based on their terpene activity. Common to terpene activity is the interaction of terpenes with NF-kappaB, the core gene signal that regulates immunity and cellular inflammation in plants and humans.

D-Limonene is a type of terpene called a monoterpene. A person consuming 1 - 2 servings of citrus per day is likely to get 15 - 40 mg of d-Limonene; if the peels are consumed in some way this level may rise to 50 - 90 mg.

Dietary supplements of d-Limonene are typically produced from the peels of oranges, with a typical dose of 1,000 mg per capsule. This natural compound is safe in high doses and offers assistance for a variety of metabolic and health problems.

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties

Because d-Limonene has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be used by any person as part of a general health program. In this case a dose ranging from 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg per day is adequate to significantly support your natural defense systems. Many nutrients contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thus d-Limonene is simply another member of your team. The reason to add it to your team is to support specific health issues that it improves, wherein you actually notice the improvement. Let’s review some of these important topics.

Bowel Motility & Digestive Balance of Power

Your bowels must move forward in a timely manner. Preferably you should have a bowel movement shortly after getting up and another after breakfast or lunch. To help move your bowels forward 1,000 mg of d-Limonene per day can be enough, although higher doses may be desired.

Use enough d-Limonene to notice an improvement in the flow of your bowels.

Occasional Reflux Indigestion

Reflux occurs partly because motility is not moving forward at the optimal pace, partly because contents in the stomach are irritating, and often because bile is backing up into the stomach. D-Limonene appears to help all three aspects of this issue. Human studies have found that 1,000 mg per day or even every other day has a beneficial impact on reflux within 10 doses.

Because d-Limonene actually dissolves the sludge buildup in the gall bladder it can help solve the problem at its source, along with not eating too often or meals that are too large.

Detoxification & Gallstones

D-Limonene activates several of the Phase I and Phase II liver detox enzymes responsible for clearing toxins. However, I believe its greatest detoxification effect is its ability to clear fat sludge all around the body. The terpenes of d-Limonene literally dissolve fat sludge. For example, turpentine is nonfood terpenes used to dissolve oil based paint. Similarly, terpenes are one of the best compounds for dissolving cholesterol.

D-Limonene is also active in the lymphatic system where fat-soluble sludge often builds up and causes "plumbing problems." These include excess mucous, shoulder stiffness, and many types of headaches. Of course, a stagnant lymph system is an immune system handicap.

An overweight person tends to build up stagnant fat in all the wrong places, which needs to be cleansed and metabolized. D-Limonene offers tremendous promise in this regard.

Metabolism & Weight Loss

D-Limonene has a mild appetite suppressant effect, which can be used by anyone to help settle down their appetite.

The ability of d-Limonene to act as an antioxidant, suppress food intake, and help fat flow along in metabolism are all attributes that help to solve the type of metabolic problems an overweight person is experiencing.

Sleep & Mood

D-Limonene is a selective activator of the adenosine A(2A) receptor on cell membranes, which senses molecules outside the cell and in turn triggers activity within the cell. These receptors are vital for nervous system function. The lack of their activation is associated with anxiety, insomnia, and impaired dopamine transmission (addictive tendencies and lack of motivation). A lack of activation of adenosine A(2A) receptors on immune cells results in a hyperimmune response (allergic reactions).

Taking d-Limonene before bedtime will help calm nerves and promote restful sleep, yet another benefit of this multitalented nutrient.

Safety and Absorption of D-Limonene

D-Limonene is rapidly and easily absorbed by the human digestive tract. The oil is spread throughout the body with a preference for fatty tissues such as white adipose tissue, breast tissue, the liver and brain. It exerts direct metabolic activity as well as combines with oxygen to produce a variety of secondary metabolites that are also biologically active.

An oral dose of 1.6 grams (1,600 mg) in humans was mostly cleared through the urine within 48 hours. A dose of 500 mg from specially prepared lemonade was cleared within 24 hours. The biological activity of a dose of d-Limonene lasts from 12 - 24 hours. A single dose of 20 grams of d-Limonene in healthy men was found to have no toxic effects. Ongoing supplementation with 100 mg per kilogram (about 7 grams per day for an average adult) was found to have no toxic effects. Doses up to 15 grams per day have been used in human breast cancer studies with no toxic effects. High doses of d-Limonene are considered safe for human consumption, with no toxicity to the liver or kidneys.

At these higher doses a person may experience belching of the oil, which is annoying but is not a health problem. Because the nutrient has relaxing and anti-anxiety properties, higher doses may make a person tired, (which may be quite useful as a sleep aid). Because the nutrient moves peristaltic motion forward, higher doses could cause diarrhea. Because the nutrient unclogs sludge in the gall bladder, higher doses could move stagnant bile rapidly into the digestive tract, which could cause nausea.  If any of these should occur when taking d-Limonene, cut back the dose or discontinue for a few days, then try a lower dose.

Useful metabolic doses of d-Limonene range from 1,000 mg to 6,000 mg per day (1 – 6 grams per day).

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