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Your Guide to the Uses and Benefits of Sweet Orange Essential Oil

The earliest mention of the citrus fruit is found in Chinese literature from 314 BC. Oranges were used in China as part of traditional medicine to treat a number of ailments; the medicinal preparations were used for constipation, cough, cold, anxiety, and stress.

From ancient China, orange fruits were then introduced to other cultures, including Arabian, African, and European. In America, oranges are believed to be introduced by Christopher Columbus in 1493, when he brought orange seeds from his travels.

Today, the top producers of sweet oranges are Brazil, India, China, Mexico, Spain, and Egypt. Eighty percent of this fruit is used to make extracts and the remaining is sold as whole fruit. The fruit is valued for containing useful organic compounds including vitamins, flavonoids, steroids, fatty acids, and peptides. 

This article expands on the uses and benefits of sweet orange essential oil for skin, hair, overall health, and anxiety.

Origins and Extraction of Sweet Orange Essential Oil

oil in bottle with sliced orange 

Sweet orange essential oil is extracted from Citrus sinensis, a species of evergreen trees native to China and Vietnam. Citrus sinensis belongs to the Rutaceae or rue plant family, known for plants with five-petalled flowers with strong scent. The tree grows to a height of 6 to 12 meters, and has smooth glossy leaves and white flowers. The flowers mature into fruits after 6 to 9 months. Sweet orange essential oil is derived from the thick, leathery rinds of the citrus fruit which contain useful bioactive organic compounds.

The extraction method used is hydrodistillation or cold pressing. Cold pressing does not involve the application of heat allowing the essential oil to retain all of the effective components of the original plant peel. According to a research study conducted in 2021, cold-pressed citrus peel essential oils had a better antioxidant effect in comparison with hydro-distilled citrus peel essential oil. Wholesale Botanics’ sweet orange essential oil is cold-pressed and contains active non-volatile compounds. 

Chemical and Aromatic Profile of Sweet Orange Essentail Oil

Sweet orange essential oil consists of terpenes and terpenoids, organic compounds which have vast medicinal and therapeutic uses. The oil contains nearly 90 percent limonene, 2 percent myrcene, and 2 percent a-pinene. It also contains the compounds octanal and decanal.

Limonene is a monoterpene that is found in most citrus peel extracts. It has several therapeutic properties that are evidenced by scientific studies; thanks to these, it is known to be potentially effective as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic.

Myrcene and a-pinene are also known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and both of these organic compounds are responsible for improving skin absorption. These terpenes enhance the permeability of the essential oil into the skin, making it more effective.

Types of Orange Essential Oil

There are two common varieties of orange essential oil with slight differences in therapeutic effects, scents, and appearance: bitter orange and sweet orange essential oil.

Sweet orange essential oil is scientifically known as citrus sinensis, while bitter orange is scientifically known as citrus aurantium. Bitter orange essential oil can also be derived from citrus sinensis; however, it tends to be phototoxic. Phototoxicity is when the skin is exposed to a chemical that may cause irritation upon subsequent exposure to light. 

In terms of therapeutic effects, bitter orange essential oil may be used for the same purposes as sweet orange essential oil. Just remember to stay away from the sun when applying bitter orange essential oil topically. 

In terms of aroma, bitter orange essential oil tends to have a slight tartness to it, reminiscent of grapefruit essential oil. In contrast, sweet orange essential oil has a bright aromatic profile. As for the appearance, bitter orange essential oil may be a slightly darker yellow while sweet orange essential oil is a yellow liquid. 

Therapeutic Effects of Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Sweet orange essential oil exhibits several pharmacological properties that have been tested through scientific research. The essential oil has been found to be potentially  anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant. This makes it possibly effective in improving skin health, alleviating pain, and combating fungal and bacterial infections. Moreover, the essential oil may have an anxiolytic effect, reducing stress and anxiety. 

The following sections elaborate on the therapeutic effects of sweet orange essential oil and how it can most effectively be used.

Sweet Orange Essential Oil for Skin

Sweet orange essential oil is a valuable addition to skin care routines because of its suitability for topical use. It absorbs into the skin well and is not phototoxic. 

The essential oil’s antibacterial activity can help combat skin infections such as acne; sweet orange essential oil is shown to inhibit acne-causing bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes. Compounds such as limonene and linalool are responsible for this effect.

The essential oil’s anti-aging properties are also well documented as it is a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds such as hesperidin and quercetin. These compounds reduce damage caused by oxidative stress such as fine lines and sunspots. The anti-aging effects are further enhanced by the anti-inflammatory properties of sweet orange essential oil. This can be attributed to the presence of 1, 8 cineole in the essential oil, helping reduce redness and irritation. For individuals with sensitive skin, sweet orange essential oil can be used to improve symptoms of rosacea and eczema. 

Moreover, the essential oil may also be used to treat fungal infections such as athlete's foot or ringworm. It contains polymethoxylated flavones and terpenes that inhibit the growth of fungi such as Aspergillus and Candida.

To safely use orange essential oil in skincare, make sure you are using sweet orange essential oil. Bitter orange essential oil varieties are phototoxic and can cause burns when applied during the day. It is also important to follow proper guidelines for dilution and ensure that the oil is mixed with a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut before topical application. 

Sweet Orange Essential Oil for Anxiety

The therapeutic potential of citrus sinensis essential oil is evidenced by several scientific studies, supporting its use as a relaxant and sedative. A study conducted by Lehrner in 1999 investigated the effectiveness of citrus sinensis in reducing anxiety among dental patients. Results demonstrated that the patients had a lower level of anxiety, felt more calm, and were in a positive mood after inhaling citrus sinensis essential oil. 

Research conducted in 2005 by Miyazaki et. al. demonstrated that the presence of a flavonoid called hesperadin was responsible for the sedative activity of the essential oil. As a result, sweet orange essential oil may be used as a relaxant and to induce sleep. 

To enjoy the relaxing effects of sweet orange essential oil, diffuse it in your room and let the bright aroma envelop your senses. You can create your own blend for relaxing by mixing sweet orange and lavender essential oil. Alternatively, you can add diluted sweet orange essential oil to your bath and enjoy a spa-like bath experience that helps you wind down. 

Sweet Orange Essential Oil for Blood Pressure

Citrus sinensis essential oil shows promise as a natural aid that may be used to manage blood pressure levels. A study published in Scholars Academic Journal of Pharmacy investigated how sweet orange essential oil aromatherapy may affect blood pressure in hypertensive and prehypertensive patients. Results showed that after the patients inhaled sweet orange essential oil, there was a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. 

Another research study carried out in 2018 identified the effect of limonene, a major component of citrus sinensis peel, on cardiovascular health. Limonene has vasodilatory properties and it can relax blood vessels allowing blood to flow better. This may also aid in reducing blood pressure. 

You can incorporate sweet orange essential oil into your routine for improving cardiovascular health by diffusing it in your surroundings. However, it cannot be used as a treatment for hypertension as it may interact with the medication. 

Sweet Orange Essential Oil for Hair Health

Scientific research that directly investigates the effect of sweet orange essential oil on hair health is limited. However, the biological properties of its chemical constituents suggest that it may be used to cleanse the scalp, potentially treat dandruff and add shine to hair. 

The essential oil possesses cleansing and antimicrobial properties, which helps create a healthy scalp microbiome. It potentially reduces the presence of harmful microbes on the scalp, also encouraging healthy hair growth. In addition, sweet orange essential oil has antifungal properties which may aid in treating dandruff and fungal infections of the scalp. 

To use citrus sinensis essential oil to improve hair and scalp health, add a few drops to your hair care products. You can also make your own hair mask by making a hair care essential oil blend with sweet orange essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, lavender essential oil and a carrier oil such as argan oil or jojoba oil. 

Safety Information for Using Orange Essential Oil

If you plan to use the oil topically, make sure to dilute sweet orange essential oil in a carrier oil. Additionally, conduct a patch test on your skin before using the oil in other blends or in skincare products. Citrus sinensis essential oil may also cause irritation in some individuals and may also act as an allergen. Be cautious when using sweet orange essential oil on the skin.

Additionally, citrus essential oils may be phototoxic so it is important to verify that you are using sweet orange or Citrus sinensis essential oil when applying on the skin. Bitter orange essential oil can cause phototoxicity and irritate the skin. 

Final Notes on Sweet Orange Essential Oil Benefits orange oil in bottle with oranges

Sweet orange essential oil has diverse uses from being used in a hair mask to being used to manage blood pressure. It has potent biological effects such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory, and anxiolytic. When using sweet orange essential oil, ensure that you buy from a trusted seller as the essential oil needs to be packaged and stored according to specific guidelines. The chemical components in citrus sinensis essential oil degrade when it is exposed to light, reducing its shelf life. 

Finally, despite its popularity as a medicinal aid, sweet orange essential oil cannot be used as a treatment for any health condition. If you already take medication for certain health concerns, be sure to consult your medical professional for advice on drug interaction. 

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