Orange Essential Oil

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Orange Essential Oil
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Orange Essential Oil – General Description

Orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil is well favored among aromatherapists not only because of its warm, invigorating aroma, but also because of the numerous benefits one can acquire fromit, most of which being pharmacological and medicinal in nature – at a reasonable cost.

Orange essential oil endows a very zesty citrusy aroma that is described as “refreshing, uplifting, and comforting” – a sweet but intense and concentrated smell, very like of the orange peels where the essential oil is derived. [1]

Orange essential oil is obtained by cold pressing the fruit peel of sweet oranges [2] and appears as a rather thin, yellowish-orange to dark-orange liquid. It is reported to have antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, cordial, deodorant, digestive, stimulant (nervous), and tonic (cardiac, circulatory) properties. [3]

Orange Essential Oil – Uses and Reported Benefits

Orange essential oil possesses a magnitude of therapeutic uses, but it is chiefly and commonly utilized in the management of colds, constipation, flatulence, flu, slow digestion, stress-related symptoms, [3] muscular tension, poor circulation, obesity, water retention, and bronchitis. [1] Its versatility, efficacy, and affordability are even more compounded by the fact that it works well too with other essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, myrrh, sandalwood, nutmeg, cinnamon bark, and clove bud essential oils, contributing to its popularity. [3]

Orange Essential Oil – Contraindications and Safety

Being highly concentrated, like any other essential oil, orange essential oil is applied in diluted form other than for aromatherapy use. Carrier oils such as jojoba, grape seed, olive, or almond oils serve for such diluting purposes. [4] Few reports have claimed dermatitis to have occurred upon the use of orange essential oil as a result of its limonene content. [3] (Limonene is also found in lemon essential oil.) Orange essential oil is phototoxic – in other words can cause skin irritation if skin on which it has been placed is exposed to sunlight. It reacts strongly to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light, [4] and hence, exposure to sunlight should be avoided.

Orange Essential Oil – Scientific Studies And Research

Using disc diffusion method, Pattnaik, Subramanyam, and Kole (1996) illustrated in their study the antibacterial and antifungal action of orange essential oil, in particular against the twenty-two bacterial strains of Gram-positive cocci and rods and Gram-negative rods and against three yeast-like and nine filamentous fungi. [5] Schelz, Molnar, and Hohmann (2006) reported the antimicrobial activity of orange essential oil against Staphylococcus epidermidis and Escherichia coli F’lac K12 LE140. [6]

Orange essential oil is well appraised for its potential as a topical antistaphylococcal agent. Muthaiyan, Biswas, Crandall, Wilkinson, and Ricke (2012) used in their study terpeneless cold-pressed essential oil from Valencia oranges as a topical therapy against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The results from this study indicated that the cold-pressed orange essential oil successfully suppressed the strains of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA) in disc diffusion vapor assay and in vitro dressing model and that at low concentration, the addition of orange essential oil to MRSA- and VISA-infected keratinocytes eliminated the bacteria without any traceable toxic effect on the keratinocytes. [7] This inhibitory effect on S. aureus strains is clinically valuable to combat infections associated with this facultative Gram-positive bacterium, including pneumonia; mastitis; impetigo, cellulitis, and staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome; osteomyelitis; endocarditis; and bacteremia. [8] Given the emergence of strains resistant to the β-lactam antibiotic methicillin, which poses a significant public health challenge, the use of alternative therapies such as orange essential oil becomes of worth. [7] Aside from S. aureus, orange essential oil has also been determined to be potent and active against Campylobacter jejuni. [9]

Administration of diet consisting of orange peel essential oil microcapsules seems to alleviate oxidative injury in acute otitis media animal models, potentiating the activities of antioxidant enzymes and decreasing serum and cochlea malondialdehyde (MDA), immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin G (IgG), and immunoglobulin M (IgM) levels per pharmacological test. [10]

Inhalation of orange essential oil alters emotional states, improves mood, promotes calmness, and reduces anxiety among patients waiting for their dental procedures. Such has been the results of the study of Lehrner, Marwinski, Lehr, Johren, and Deecke (2005) where two hundred 18–77-year-old patients waiting for their respective dental treatments have been stimulated with either orange or lavender ambient odor. [11] Scientific support regarding the acute anxiolytic activity of sweet orange essential oil can also be obtained from the study of Faturi, Leite, Alves, Canton, and Teixeira-Silva (2010), who screened the effect of orange essential oil on male Wistar rats using an elevated plus maze and light–dark paradigm. The exposure of experimental rodents to orange essential oil aroma for 5 min resulted in a remarkable anxiolytic activity in at least one of the tests. At the highest dose, exposure to orange essential oil aroma produced significant effects in animal models, as evidenced by an increased exploration of the open arms of the elevated plus-maze (time, p = 0.004; entries, p = 0.044) and of the lit chamber of the light–dark paradigm (time, p = 0.030). [12]

Using orange essential oil in conjunction with aromatic ginger (Zingiber officinale) in massages has been reported to be effective in rendering short-term knee pain relief among the elderly recruited for a double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental study. In this study, six massage sessions using both ginger and orange essential oil were offered over a three-week period, and knee pain intensity, stiffness level, physical functioning, and quality of life were assessed at baseline, after a week, and after 4 weeks since treatment. Results revealed significant mean changes between the three time points within the intervention group: knee pain intensity (p = 0.02), stiffness level (p = 0.03), and enhancing physical function (p = 0.04). Moreover, better improvement as regards physical function and pain was recorded after a week from treatment in the intervention group (p = 0.03). [13]
Aromatherapy consisting of rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning and lavender and orange essential oils in the evening has also been reported to potentially improve the cognitive function of the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease, specifically significantly enhancing personal orientation as reflected on the improvement in Gottfries–Bråne–Steen Scale and Touch Panel-Type Dementia Assessment Scale scores after the therapy without known side effects based on routine laboratory tests. [14]

Orange Essential Oil – Molecular Components and Chemistry

The major chemical component of orange essential oil is limonene, with sweet orange containing 68–98%. [15] In the investigative work of Bourgou, Rahali, Ourghemmi, and Saïdani Tounsi (2012) on the chemical composition of bitter orange (C. aurantium), lemon (C. limon), sweet orange (C. sinensis), and mandarin orange (C. reticulata) essential oils, it appears that bitter orange essential oil is principally composed of limonene (67.90–90.95%) and 1,8-cineole (tr-14.72%), whereas mandarin orange essential oil contains limonene (51.81–69.00%), 1,8-cineole (0.01–26.43%), and γ-terpinene (2.53–14.06%).

A limonene content of 81.52–86.43% was recorded in orange peel oil during ripening stage. [16] Using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, Kumar, Mishra, Malik, and Satya (2012) revealed the compositional analysis of orange essential oil: D-limonene (73.24%), α-pinene (5.86%), and myrcene (4.45%). [17]


[1] Sweet Orange 100% Pure Essential Oil -10 ml. Plantlife. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[2] doTerra Wild Orange Essential Oil 15 ml. doTERRA Single Oils. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[3] Orange Essential Oil. 10 ml. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. Plant Therapy Essential Oils. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[4] Now Foods Orange Oil. Now Foods. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[5] Pattnaik S., Subramanyam V. R., & Kole C. (1996). Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. Microbios, 86(349): 237–246. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[6] Schelz Z., Molnar J., & Hohmann J. (2006). Antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of essential oils. Fitoterapia, 77(4):
279–285. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[7] Muthaiyan A., Biswas D., Crandall P. G., Wilkinson B. J., & Ricke S. C. (2012). Application of orange essential oil as an antistaphylococcal agent in a dressing model. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12:125. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-125. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[8] Stapleton P. D. & Taylor P. W. (2002). Methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. Sci Prog, 85(Pt 1): 57–72. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[9] Friedman M., Henika P. R., & Mandrell R. E. (2002). Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils and some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. Journal of Food Protection, 65(10): 1545–1560. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[10] Lv Y. X. et al. (2012). Effect of orange peel essential oil on oxidative stress in AOM animals. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 50(4): 1144–1150. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2012.02.002. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[11] Lehrner J., Marwinski G., Lehr S., Johren P., & Deecke L. (2005). Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology & Behavior, 86(1–2): 92–95. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[12] Faturi C. B., Leite J. R., Alves P. B., Canton A. C., & Teixeira-Silva F. (2010). Anxiolytic-like effect of sweet orange aroma in Wistar rats. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 34(4): 605–609. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2010.02.020. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[13] Yip Y. B. & Tam A. C. (2008). An experimental study on the effectiveness of massage with aromatic ginger and orange essential oil for moderate-to-severe knee pain among the elderly in Hong Kong. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 16(3): 131–138. doi:
10.1016/j.ctim.2007.12.003. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[14] Jimbo D., Kimura Y., Taniguchi M., Inoue M., & Urakami K. (2009). Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Psychogeriatrics, 9(4): 173–179. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2009.00299.x. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[15] Moufida S. & Marzouk B. (2003). Biochemical characterization of blood orange, sweet orange, lemon, bergamot and bitter orange. Phytochemistry, 62(8): 1283–1289. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[16] Bourgou S., Rahali F. Z., Ourghemmi I., & Saïdani Tounsi M. (2012). Changes of peel essential oil composition of four Tunisian citrus during fruit maturation. Scientific World Journal, 2012: 528593. doi: 10.1100/2012/528593. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

[17] Kumar P., Mishra S., Malik A., & Satya S. (2012). Insecticidal evaluation of essential oils of Citrus sinensis L. (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) against housefly, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae). Parasitology Research, 110(5): 1929–1936. doi:
10.1007/s00436-011-2719-3. Retrieved 2 April 2013 from

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