Citrus fruits are among the most popular and versatile in the plant kingdom. Every culture has its favorite, from big and bright grapefruits to bite-sized orange peels and everything in between. While most people enjoy the taste and texture of citrus fruits as a snack, essential oils have long been a reliable way to get the health benefits of citrus by alternative means.
Now, more than ever, citrus essential oils are reaching new heights in popularity worldwide as individual users and alternative medicine practitioners discover more through research and discovery. While these oils have been used for centuries for various purposes, we’re seeing a renaissance of citrus unfold today, sparking new interest and scientific focus.
We’re giving you the full story on citrus essential oils, sharing the capabilities and benefits of these concentrated fruit compounds. If you’ve only just stepped foot into the world of essential oils, you’ll certainly find something worthwhile to add to your routine. Let’s get started.
What are citrus essential oils?
Citrus essential oils are a concentrated liquid that is extracted from citrus fruits of various kinds. The most commonly used fruits are oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, though mandarin tangerines and even yuzu are utilized for their unique oil properties.
These oils are not a new phenomenon — evidence shows that citrus essential oils have been used for thousands of years. From ancient China and India to classical Greece and Rome, essential oils have been part of medicine, cuisine, and culture far before modern times.
What did the ancients know about citrus essential oils that we don’t? As we unlock more secrets about these unique concentrated liquids, we’ll begin to relearn some of the techniques and applications that have helped citrus stand the test of time for so long.
How are citrus essential oils produced?
Nowadays, citrus essential oils are mainly produced through a process known as expression. This method involved cold pressing citrus rinds and peels to push out oils and collect them in a concentrated liquid format.
Producers focus on harvesting citrus fruit of the highest quality and at the right stage of ripeness, then washing and separating fruits to ensure the product is free of dirt and impurities. In cold pressing, machines are used to mechanically press peels at a low temperature to prevent heat from degrading the quality and aroma of the oils.
The liquid pressed from citrus isn’t pure essential oil, however. Another separation step is followed to ensure that the remaining fruit juice and water are removed from the oil for maximum purity and concentration. Finally, the oil is collected, filtered, and packaged following precise quality control standards.
While there is variation in the quality of citrus essential oils, the most natural and organic processes deliver high-quality finished products, and are preferred for safe consumption.
How are citrus essential oils used?
Citrus essential oils are incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of applications for health, wellness, therapeutics, and ambient enjoyment. Aromatherapy with citrus essential oils is the most common approach, involving the use of a diffuser or humidifier to disperse tiny particles along with filtered water and circulated air.
Aromatherapy allows for the inhalation of key phytochemicals found in citrus essential oils, offering a fresh and invigorating scent along with notable health benefits. Citrus oils are also used broadly in the perfume, cosmetics, and skincare industries to add pleasant scents and astringent properties to products for topical applications.
Because citrus essential oils are so potent in aroma and chemical profiles, they are typically diluted with carrier oils like jojoba, coconut, or almond oil for topicals. This ensures that citrus oils are not over concentrated and can be evenly distributed onto skin or hair.
Finally, citrus essential oils are being increasingly found in food and beverage flavoring, though these must be approved as food-grade products by the FDA before use. These natural flavorings are often preferred in higher quality products by discerning consumers as an alternative to synthetic ingredients.
What are the key benefits of citrus essential oils?
There’s no doubt that citrus essential oils are popular and have been for a long time. Now, we want to know the exact health benefits that citrus oils offer for the mind and body. Let’s explore some evidence-backed benefits that essential oils bring to the table so you know what to expect and how to maximize your results.
1. Calming and soothing effects
Citrus essential oils can calm and soothe the mind and body through several different mechanisms. The aromatic properties of citrus oil scents are naturally relaxing, as the olfactory system is directly linked to the limbic system of the brain. When citrus essential oil particles circulate through the air, we pick them up through sense of smell, and this can offer a calming, relaxing sensation.
On a deeper level, it’s the terpenes and phytochemicals that are naturally found in citrus oils and have a relaxing effect on the brain and emotions. Limonene is a common component found in many citrus oils and has been shown to support a healthy stress response in both animals and humans. Combined with deep breathing and relaxation techniques, citrus aromatherapy may help you break out of the fight or flight cycle and ease into a state of calm.
Of course, aromatherapy is just one delivery method for these compounds. You can also tap into the calming power of citrus oils by ingesting diluted oils in drinks, using tinctures, applying topicals, and other ways.
2. Cleansing properties
Those delightful citrus aromas are nice to have in your favorite products and your essential oil diffuser, but did you know that they also pack a punch in terms of natural cleaning mechanisms? If you see citrus essential oils in your all-natural hand soap or surface cleaner, now you know it’s not just for scent or for show.
Specifically, citrus essential oils contain bioactive compounds like citral, linalool, and other terpenes that have been shown to have a wide range of benefits for overall wellness.
As society trends towards more natural and non-toxic ways of cleaning and preserving our environment, citrus essential oils will likely be a go-to method in more consumer and industrial applications. See if you can find an all-natural hand soap with essential citrus oils and experience a clean sense of refreshment.
3. Potent antioxidant profiles
With compounds like limonene, citral, and various flavonoids, citrus oils are loaded with antioxidants that help keep cells healthy and resilient. Even healthy cells can fall victim to oxidation, resulting in the release of free radicals that can cause damage over the years. Citrus essential oils support your health during exposure to these molecules.
These antioxidant effects are partly why citrus essential oils are so popular in a range of cosmetics and health food products. Antioxidant-rich resources are always in demand and add another layer of efficacy to already-established ingredients and compounds.
4. Skin and hair care
If you’ve considered using citrus essential oils for skin or hair care, you have the right idea. The compounds in citrus have a considerable brightening effect on the skin, helping to even out skin tone and reduce the severity of blemishes, dark spots, and other imperfections. This is in part due to the antioxidant properties of citrus fruit, as well as the presence of vitamin C and various terpenes.
For those who experience oily skin or dry skin, citrus oils can regulate sebum production and create conditions for a more even-looking skin complexion. Paired with detoxifying effects that combat bacteria and breakouts, you have a recipe for clear, vibrant skin thanks to citrus essential oils.
Many of these same properties apply to hair and scalp health as well, whether you’re dealing with dandruff, bacteria buildup, or issues with oil and dryness. Some of the most popular natural shampoos use citrus oils as a main ingredient, in combination with other essential oils like peppermint to help keep hair clean and growing strong.
Just be cautious when using essential oils on the skin, as they are typically potent and may increase sensitivity to sunlight for people with lighter skin tones.
5. Immune-supporting effects
Citrus essential oils are known for assisting the body’s immune system and maintaining the proper function of both innate and active defenses against microbes and pathogens. The cleansing effects of citrus oils may help your body keep bacteria, fungi, and viruses at bay, which can reduce the strain on the immune system as it tries to fend off these potentially harmful germs.
The vitamin C content in citrus essential oils plays a big role here, as this organic compound can help regulate immunity and create strong defensive membranes in the body. At the same time, citrus oils can ease tension, which is the hidden source of many immune dysfunctions. A calm and stress-free body will always have more energy and resources to combat pathogens, which is why lowering stress is so key to overall health.
Immunity is a complex equation with many moving parts, but citrus essential oils work in multiple ways to keep the body’s defenses strong and dynamic. To get the most from citrus for immunity, add fruits like lemons and oranges to your diet, as well food or beverages including citrus essential oils.
6. Support for focus and concentration
With invigorating components like limonene, citrus essential oils are thought to have a mild stimulating effect on the brain. The bright and fresh aromas of citrus can help clear the mind, improve alertness, and even provide a mental boost that helps you lock in your most important tasks.
Cognitive function is complex, and although citrus might not be a true nootropic, even a small boost in mental clarity can make a difference in your daily grind. Furthermore, citrus oils can reduce the effects of fatigue on the brain and body, giving you an extra source of natural stamina to keep going when the going gets tough.
The next time you need to tackle a lengthy to-do list, try adding some citrus essential oils to your diffuser or using an ingestible form that helps you concentrate. It could be the hidden cognition hack you’ve been looking for to get more done during the day.
7. Uplifting feelings
The scents of oils like orange, lemon, and grapefruit are naturally stimulating and can provide a considerable lift in mood, making them a great part of any self-care routine.
It’s not only the relaxing and refreshing aromas of citrus oils that make this possible. The molecules in citrus oils can actually trigger feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which assist in mechanisms of motivation, positive outlook, and more.
The next time you feel the need for a natural pick-me-up during the day, look no further than invigorating citrus to hit the reset button and feel better fast.
8. Digestive support
Digestion is a struggle for many, especially those with dietary restrictions and other health issues related to stress and lifestyle. Thankfully, the compounds present in citrus essential oils can help the entirety of the gastrointestinal system, from digestion and nutrient absorption to regulation and reduced bloating.
This works via the stimulating properties of citrus oils which help get digestive juices and enzymes flowing. When you can break down your food more effectively, you’re less likely to deal with bloating, gas, and other issues.
Citrus can also help ease digestive discomfort after eating something disagreeable, giving you another way to soothe your stomach and feel good inside and out.
How do you start using citrus essential oils in your routine?
If you’re intrigued by the many benefits of citrus essential oils, it’s time to make them part of your daily routine. Luckily, these products are easy to find and relatively affordable — plus, a little goes a long way. Just a few drops of citrus essential oil can be used in a diffuser or humidifier for hours, and you can create DIY hair or skincare products with a minimal amount as well.
For those looking for a streamlined way to enjoy citrus essential oils, several of Sunmed’s best-selling products contain these oils alongside cannabinoids and other plant-derived ingredients. For example, our Broad Spectrum Rise CBG Tincture is loaded with lime and orange essential oils, in addition to high-quality hemp extract for uplifting, energizing, and focusing effects.*
Furthermore, this tincture taps into the entourage effect with its various plant compounds, giving you a synergy of terpenes, cannabinoids, and other potent ingredients. Give your morning a much-needed boost and check all the boxes for balance and wellness at the start of your day.*
The bottom line
With so much to love about citrus, it’s no surprise that citrus essential oils are equally enjoyable and satisfying to use. From tinctures to aromatherapy and everyday applications around the home, you can certainly find a way to use citrus oils to your advantage for health and wellness.
Sunmed is always on the frontier of using natural, science-backed ingredients to improve our products and use everything that nature has to offer. With citrus essential oils, we found a reliable way to add refreshing scents and powerful wellness properties to some of our best-selling products.
Stay tuned with Sunmed to discover more about essential oils, wellness concepts, and other explorations to take your health and wellness even further.