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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

Using Citrus Oils to Support Immunity

Let's talk about why citrus oils are so powerful for supporting immunity. It's one thing to know they're amazing, but another to really understand why!

d-Limonene and Citrus

Most citrus oils contain at least 60% d-limonene. The largest amounts of d-limonene (also known as (+)-limonene) are found in the citrus oils--such as Grapefruit, Orange, Clementine and Tangerine--which contain amounts ranging from 80-95%. Lemon, Mandarin, and Tangelo oils contain amounts ranging from 65-80%.

The Research

Why do we care? Research on d-limonene is significant. I know we can't assume that results from animal research (ugh!) will be the same as results from human use. That being said, there's still a lot to gain from this information.

Immunostimulant effects of d-limonene seen in rodent studies include stimulating lymphocyte proliferation (4), increasing the total white blood cell count (5), increasing the number and phagocytic activity of macrophages (1,2), and stimulating antibody production (5). Natural killer cell activity was enhanced in vitro by d-limonene (3).

Here are two ways I use citrus essential oils in my daily life for immune support:

Kitchen and Bathroom Disinfectant
Clean all kitchen and bathroom surfaces

20 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)
20 drops Orange (Citrus sinensis)
20 drops Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)

Directions: Blend essential oils in a 16 oz (480 ml) spray bottle filled with 14 oz (420 ml) of water and 2 oz (60 ml) of white vinegar. Spray freely and wipe with a towel or sponge. I recommend making this product fresh every few weeks.

Solid Deodorant
This recipe is a sneak preview into Aromahead Institute's upcoming eBook!
Makes about four 1 oz (30 ml) deodorant tubes.

1 oz (28 gm) Beeswax (Cera alba)
3 oz (90 ml) Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
20 drops Orange (Citrus sinensis)
20 drops Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)

Kitchen scale
Pyrex style large measuring bowl
Medium stove top pot
Glass stirring rod or spoon
Four 1 oz (30 ml) deodorant tubes


  1. Use the Stove Top Melting Method to liquefy and combine the base carriers. Place the Pyrex measuring cup in the soup pot, and fill the pot 1/4 of the way with water. Boil water, add beeswax and jojoba to Pyrex, and allow to melt.
  2. After removing the melted wax from heat, add the essential oils and stir.
  3. Immediately pour the liquid into the deodorant tubes and cover.
  4. Allow deodorant to solidify for at least five minutes before applying.

Alternate Essential Oils Blends for Different Aromas:

For a woodsy aroma:
10 drops Cypress essential oil (Cupressus sempervirens)
10 drops distilled Lime essential oil (Citrus aurantifolia)

For a floral aroma:
10 drops Geranium essential oil (Pelargonium roseum x asperum)
10 drops Orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)


  1. Del Toro-Arreola S, Flores-Torales E, Torres-Lozano (2005) Effect of d-limonene on immune response in BALB/c mice with lymphoma. International Immunopharmacology 5:829-838
  2. Hamada M, Uezu K, Matsushita J et al (2002) Distribution and immune responses resulting from oral administration of d-limonene in rats. Journal of Nutritional Science & Vitaminology (Tokyo) 48:155-160
  3. Li Q, Nakadai A, Matsushima H (2006) Phytoncides (wood essential oils) induce human natural killer cell activity. Immunopharmacology & Immunotoxicology 28:319-333
  4. Manuele MG, Ferraro G, Anesini C (2008) Effect of Tilia x viridis flower extract on the proliferation of a lymphoma cell line and on normal murine lymphocytes: contribution of monoterpenes, especially limonene. Phytotherapy Research 22:1520-1526
  5. Raphael TJ, Kuttan G (2003) Immunomodulatory activity of naturally occurring monoterpenes carvone, limonene, and perillic acid. Immunopharmacology & Immunotoxicology 25:285-294

References and research provided by Robert Tissserand for the Aromahead Institute Component Database.

Founder at Aromahead Institute
Andrea Butje is an internationally-recognized Aromatherapist who has changed the educational paradigm through her inspired approach to teaching essential oils and Aromatherapy Certification. Check out her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy, at Aromatics International!

Topics: d-limonene, essential oils for immune system health, aromahead institute, Recipes and Blends, citrus essential oils, essential oil research

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