Orange oil comes from the fruit of the Citrus sinensi orange plant. Sometimes also called “sweet orange oil,” it’s derived from the outer peel of the common orange fruit, which has been highly sought after because of its immune-boosting effects.
Most people have come into contact with small amounts of orange oil when peeling or zesting an orange. If you’re unfamiliar with various essential oil uses and benefits, you might be surprised to know just how many different common products they’re used in. Ever use soap, detergent or kitchen cleaner that smelled like oranges? That’s because you can also find traces of orange oil in household and cosmetic products to improve their smell and cleansing abilities.
What is orange essential oil used for? The short answer: so many things! It’s added to many beauty products like lotion, shampoo, acne treatments and mouthwash since it has antibacterial properties and a strong, fresh scent.
In your home, you’ve likely got some furniture spray and kitchen or bathroom cleaners that also contain orange essential oil. The oil is also commonly used as an approved flavor enhancer in drinks, such as fruit juices or sodas, although there’s much more natural ways to obtain its benefits.
Orange Oil Benefits
What are the benefits of orange essential oil? There are many! Let’s look at some of the top benefits of this impressive citrus oil.
1. Immunity Enhancer
Limonene, which is a monocyclic monoterpene that’s present in orange peel oil, is a powerful defender against oxidative stress that can negatively affect our immune systems. Orange oil even has cancer-fighting abilities, since monoterpenes have been shown to be very effective chemo-preventive agents against tumor growth.
2. Natural Antibacterial
Essential oils made from citrus fruits offer the potential for all-natural antimicrobials for use in improving the safety of foods. Orange oil was found to prevent the proliferation of E. coli bacteria in one 2009 study published in the International Journal of Food and Science Technology. E. coli, a dangerous type of bacteria present in contaminated foods like some vegetables and meat, can cause serious reactions when it’s ingested, including kidney failure and possible death.
Another 2008 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that orange oil can inhibit the spread of salmonella bacteria since it contains powerful antimicrobial compounds, especially terpenes. Salmonella is capable of causing gastrointestinal reactions, fever and serious side effects when food becomes unknowingly contaminated and consumed.
3. Kitchen Cleaner and Ant Repellant
Orange oil has a natural fresh, sweet, citrus smell that will fill your kitchen with a clean scent. At the same time, when diluted it’s a great way to clean countertops, cutting boards or appliances without needing to use bleach or harsh chemicals found in most products.
Add a few drops to a spray bottle along with other cleansing oils like bergamot oil and water to create your own orange oil cleaner. You can also use orange oil for ants, as this DIY cleaner is also a great natural ant repellant.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
Orange oil is a natural remedy for high blood pressure and is capable of improving blood flow and fighting hypertension, some of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. A study published 2014 compared the effects of human subjects inhaling fresh air compared to orange essential oil. They found that the people who inhaled the orange oil experienced significant reductions in their both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In addition, a “feeling of comfort” was significantly greater during inhalation of the orange essential oil than during inhalation of fresh air.
Because of its blood-dialing abilities, it might also be useful for improving low libido, reducing pain from headaches and lowering PMS-related symptoms.
Use orange oil with a carrier oil to create a homemade massage oil that can be rubbed into the abdominal area to improve blood flow.
The strong anti-inflammatory effects of orange oil have been researched in regard to its effects for fighting pain, infection and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In fact, among several popular anti-inflammatory oils, including lemon, pine and eucalyptus oils, orange oil has shown the greatest reduction in inflammation. This was demonstrated in a 2009 in vitro study published in the European Journal of Medical Research that investigated the antioxidant potential of various essential oils including orange oil.
6. Pain Reducer
If you suffer from muscle, bone or joint pain, orange oil can help turn off inflammatory responses that increase swelling in tissue, making it a natural remedy for bone and joint pain.
A randomized clinical trial published in 2017 looked at the effects of orange oil aromatherapy on patients admitted to the emergency ward of a hospital for bone fractures. The researchers put just four drops of orange oil on a pad and pinned it to each patient’s collar a little less than eight inches from the head. The old essential oil infused pad was replaced by a new one each hour and the patients’ pain and vital signs were checked every hour for at least six hours.
Overall, the researchers conclude, “Aromatherapy with orange oil can relieve pain in patients with fractured limbs but has no effect on their vital signs. Therefore, aromatherapy with orange oil can be used as a complementary medicine in these patients.”
Orange oil also promotes a more positive mood, which is useful for raising pain tolerance and helping you get better sleep when you’re sore or uncomfortable. Rub orange oil mixed with a carrier oil onto sore muscles or swollen areas to bring down inflammation.
7. Anxiety Calmer and Mood Booster
Orange oil has also been proven to be uplifting and tranquilizing. Aromatherapists and natural health practitioners have used orange oil as a mild tranquilizer and natural antidepressant for centuries. Because it has anxiolytic properties and reduces anxiety-related symptoms, as little as five minutes of exposure to diffused orange oil can alter moods and enhance motivation, relaxation and clarity.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Complimentary Therapies of Medicine found that olfactory stimulation using orange and rose oils induces physiological and psychological relaxation. The study investigated the effects of orange and rose essential oil on prefrontal cortex activity in 20 female participants’ brains, which revealed their level of stimulation or relaxation.
After half of the women were exposed to diffusion of orange and rose oil for 90 seconds, they experienced a significant decrease in oxyhemoglobin concentration in the right prefrontal cortex of the brain compared to the control group, which resulted in increases in “comfortable,” “relaxed” and “natural” feelings.
Another study also published in 2014 demonstrates how aromatherapy with C. aurantium oil is “a simple, inexpensive, noninvasive, and effective intervention to reduce anxiety during labor.”
Diffusing orange oil in your home, adding some to your shower wash or perfume, or inhaling it directly can lift your mood and bring on relaxation. Orange essential oil has a direct effect on the olfactory system of the brain that quickly evokes emotional responses.
8. Better Sleep
Is orange essential oil good for sleep? It definitely can be! Since research shows that orange oil is both uplifting and calming, it’s a great scent for brightening your mood in the morning or calming your nerves after a long day. A systemic review of essential oils published in 2015 includes sweet orange on its list of beneficial oils for insomnia.
Try diffusing orange essential oil before bed for a better’s night’s rest.
10. Skin Saver
You can use orange oil for skin, too! Citrus fruits are known to provide high levels of vitamin C that help protect and heal skin, making oranges one of the best vitamin C foods around. Orange oil, like other citrus oils, comes from the peel of the fruit and research shows that orange peel contains even higher levels of vitamin C than the fruit itself! So this means that orange essential oil is also very beneficial for fighting signs of aging like wrinkles and dark spots since its high vitamin C content means it can help to promote the production of collagen.
Can you use orange oil on your skin? You can apply a very small amount of orange oil to your face along with a carrier oil, but first make sure to do a skin test to avoid any negative reactions. Try combining it with other skin-healing oils like frankincense oil and tea tree oil.
11. Acne Fighter
Orange oil has been shown to effectively fight bacteria that causes breakouts. Since we’re now seeing antimicrobial resistant bacterial strains that cause breakouts, it’s so important to find healthier, natural solutions like orange oil to use as a home remedy for acne.
Remember that a very little bit goes a long way, so use a tiny amount combined with coconut oil on a cotton ball that you can apply to the affected area. Redness, pain and swelling from acne should also improve, while you’ll avoid drying chemical ingredients found in most commercial acne treatments. Try using it with other powerful oils like geranium oil or cinnamon oil.
12. Natural Mouth Wash and Gum Protector
Because orange oil has the ability to fight bacterial growth, it can help to protect teeth and gums from infections. It’s also been used to help ease a sore throat for fast relief when gargled with water and salt.
You can also try coconut oil pulling using a couple of drops of orange oil mixed with pure coconut oil. This citrus addition makes the flavor and scent of oil pulling more enjoyable too!
13. Cancer Fighter
D-limonene, which comprises over 90 percent of orange peel oil, is a monoterpene that has strong chemo-preventive activity as it’s been shown to reduce tumor growth in many animal studies. Research suggests that monoterpenes block mammary, skin, liver, lung, pancreas and stomach cancers. The ability to fight carcinogenesis is likely due to the induction of Phase II carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes, resulting in carcinogen detoxification. Monoterpenes also help induce apoptosis and growth-regulating proteins.
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, orange oil can effectively help stop the proliferation of human lung and colon cancer cells. This is due to orange oil’s hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones (a group of flavonoid compounds mainly found in citrus plants) that are associated with modulating key signaling proteins related to cell proliferation and apoptosis.
In another study conducted by the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, orange oil showed the ability to suppress tumor growth because it enhances the liver’s detoxification functions, nerve signaling and cellular rejuvenation. Rats that were administered orange oil for a period of five and a half months displayed chemo-preventive effects of orange oil that were monitored using the weight of their livers. Orange oil administration resulted in decreased liver weights, increased intercellular gap junctional complexes, and improved cell density and polarity when compared with the control group.
How to Choose & Use Orange Oil
To get the most benefits from orange oil, look for one that’s derived using a cold-pressed method from the actual peel of the orange. This preserves the heat-sensitive antioxidants and active ingredients that can easily become destroyed during processing and steam distillation.
Since the extract comes exclusively from the outer layer of the orange, which is exposed to the environment it grows in, it’s also important to look for organic, cold-pressed orange oil to avoid chemical toxicity. This type is made by powerfully squeezing the rind of oranges that have been grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
Orange oil is really versatile and goes well with almost any other oil, which is why it’s included in all types of oil blends, including relaxants, stimulants, cleansers, purifiers and aphrodisiacs. Some essential oils to try combining it with include cinnamon, allspice, anise, basil, bergamot, clary sage, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, sandalwood, jasmine and clove oil.
Taken from my essential oil guide, here are several methods for safely using orange oil at home:
Aromatically: You can diffuse the oil in your home using a diffuser or inhale the oil directly. To make a natural room freshener, put a few drops of oil along with water into a spritz bottle.
Topically: Before applying orange oil to your skin, it should be diluted with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, in a 1:1 ratio. Once you know your reaction to orange oil is safe, you can add a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath, lotion or body wash.
Internally: Ingesting orange oil is ONLY recommend when you’re using a very high-quality, organic, “therapeutic grade” brand. You can add a drop to water or seltzer, or take it as dietary supplement mixing it with honey or into a smoothie. This helps lower bloating and improves digestion and detoxification from the inside-out. The FDA recognizes it as safe for consumption (21CFR182.20), but this is only the case if you purchase a pure, unadulterated oil. You get what you pay for, so make sure to seek out a reputable, tested brand!
Wondering where to buy orange oil? It’s not hard to find orange essential oil online or at your local health store. Always make sure to buy a high quality, 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade orange oil so that you can get the most of it and also so that it’s truly a safe edible orange oil. You can use orange oil for cooking when it’s high quality as I just described.
How do you make orange oil? At home, you can infuse a base oil like olive oil with orange peels, but this is not at all the same as pure essential orange oil. How to make orange oil like you find in stores or online requires specialized equipment so it really is worth purchasing a high quality, professionally made orange oil to get the best, purest possible version.
History and Interesting Facts
Have you ever noticed the slight amount of oil that leaches out when cut into an orange or “zested” its skin to use the outer peel in recipes? The strong taste and aroma that come from the oils are exactly what’s concentrated in orange essential oil. A potent formula of orange’s active ingredients is responsible for its healing abilities.
As an all-natural method for improving immune function and fighting various ailments, orange oil has been a popular remedy in folk medicine throughout the Mediterranean, India and China for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Throughout history, orange oil has been used to treat widespread conditions, including: poor digestion, chronic fatigue, depression, oral and skin infections, colds, flu, and low libido.
Orange oil is often used in green pesticides for pest control. It’s especially known for naturally killing ants and also for getting rid of their scent-pheromone trails and help to prevent re-infestation.
Orange Oil Side Effects and Interactions
Because it’s very potent, the oil can cause reactions on the skin when you use it directly, so start out with a small amount and make sure you don’t experience any redness, swelling or hives. It’s a good idea to do a “skin patch test” on a small piece of skin — for example, your forearm — before using it on larger patches or delicate areas like your face.
If you’re allergic to oranges or other citrus fruits, you shouldn’t use orange oil, which can cause serious reactions both internally and externally. Also be careful when using it on your children topically or if you’re pregnant, nursing, taking medication or have a medical condition. Essential oils are powerful and interact with other medications, so talk to your doctor if you’re unsure how using orange oil will impact an existing health condition like cancer, heart disease, liver damage or skin disorders.
Another thing to keep in mind is that citrus oils can increase the effects of UV light exposure on the skin. It’s a good idea to avoid direct sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after applying the oil to your skin so you don’t experience a burn.
- Orange oil benefits are many including: immune system enhancement and possible cancer fighter; natural antibacterial agent for cleaning and skincare; natural ant repellant; blood pressure reducer; anti-inflammatory and pain reducer; and anxiety calmer, mood booster and sleep promoter.
- With its delightful citrus scent, orange oil is easy to enjoy and use on a daily basis.
- Orange oil is commonly found in so many common household products because it is so beneficial from natural cleaners to dental products to cosmetics.
- You can used a high quality orange essential oil aromatically, topically and internally.
- A “high quality” orange essential oil is one that is 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and organic.
By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS