How d-Limonene in Citrus Oils Boosts Happiness

4 min to read
Karen Williams
How d-Limonene in Citrus Oils Boosts Happiness

Does your hand lotion bring more happiness?

Maybe that’s asking a lot from hand lotion. 

Or maybe not! If you blend essential oils rich in d-limonene into your lotion, there’s a scientific reason to expect more happiness and positive energy in your day.

Research on d-limonene 

d-Limonene is a natural monoterpene component found in some essential oils. A ton of research has been done on the way d-limonene creates a good mood! Here are a few examples: 

. . . A 2007 study concluded that it helps inhibit the rise of stress hormones, and therefore has “a potent stress-alleviating effect.”

. . . In 2013 and 2014, researchers found that limonene significantly reduced signs of stress and anxiety in mice.

. . . A 2006 study determined that d-limonene (along with other aromatherapeutic components) was a “potentially effective treatment”

for a range of emotional and mental troubles.

And that’s just the tip of the research iceberg for d-limonene. 

ALL citrus oils contain high amounts of d-limonene!

Grapefruit and Wild Orange contain over 90%. That means when you open a bottle of Grapefruit and take a generous sniff, over 90% of the molecules you inhale are d-limonene. 

This recipe includes three mood-boosting citrus essential oils, along with a gorgeous exotic floral that I’ll tell you about below.

Use it to moisturize your hands as needed. To get more of the aroma, bring your palms to your face and breathe in for a few moments.

Come On, Get Happy!

Use to moisturize your hands as needed.

  • 1 oz (28 g) Unscented Lotion

  • 4 drops Grapefruit Oil (Citrus paradisi)

  • 3 drops Davana Oil (Artemisia pallens)

  • 3 drops Wild Orange Oil (Citrus sinensis)

  • 2 drops Yuzu Oil (Citrus junos)

  • One 1 oz (30 ml) jar

  • Glass stirring rod or stainless steel spoon

  • Put the lotion in the jar and add the essential oil drops.

  • Stir until the essential oil blends into the lotion.

Want another reason to smile?

d-Limonene also helps reduce germs—especially bacteria. So while you’re moisturizing your hands, you’re also purifying your skin. 

Why did I include Davana oil in this recipe?

Davana is distilled from the beautiful, sunny yellow flowers of Artemisia pallens, which grows in India. It’s a sweet, exotic floral, and it’s highly prized for natural luxury perfumes.

Like most florals, Davana’s intoxicating scent can comfort your heart. It elevates your mood by inspiring more compassion, self-trust, and appreciation for the beautiful world around you. 

If you don’t have Davana in your collection, you can substitute Neroli, Ylang Ylang, or Geranium. (Or try this floral-based recipe from our blog!)

Safety note on phototoxicity

Maybe you’ve heard that citrus essential oils are phototoxic. That means if you put the oil on your skin and then expose that skin to sunlight, you can get burns or blisters.

So what does that mean for this blend, which has three citrus oils in it?

There’s no reason to worry! Not ALL citrus oils are phototoxic. Wild Orange and Yuzu are safe. And while Grapefruit is phototoxic, we’d have to put at least 24 drops of it in this lotion before there was a safety issue. Learn more about phototoxic oils. 


de Almeida AA, de Carvalho RB, Silva OA, de Sousa DP, de Freitas RM. Potential antioxidant and anxiolytic effects of (+)-limonene epoxide in mice after marble-burying test. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2014 Mar;118:69-78. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Jan 24. PMID: 24463201. 

Lang, G. and Buchbauer, G. (2012) A review on recent research results (2008-2010) on essential oils as antimicrobials and antifungals. A review. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 27, 13-39.

Fukumoto, S., Morishita, A., Furutachi, K., Terashima, T., Nakayama, T. and Yokogoshi, H. (2007) Effect of flavour components in lemon essential oil on physical or psychological stress. Stress and Health 24, 1, 3-12.

Lima, N.G., de Souza, D.P., Pimenta, F.C., Alves, M.F., de Souza, F.S., (2013) Anxiolytic-like activity and GC-MS analysis of (R)-(+)-limonene fragrance, a natural compound found in foods and plants. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 103, 450-454

Perry, N. and Perry, E. (2006) Aromatherapy in the management of psychiatric disorders: clinical and neuropharmacological perspectives. CNS Drugs 20, 4, 257-280.

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About the author

Karen Williams - Aromahead Institute

Karen Williams

R.N. Certified Aromatherapist, Educator

I love to create amazing blends that inspire and promote a healthier lifestyle. I got my start many years ago as a registered nurse working in the hospital system. I wanted to help people more holistically. Then, I discovered essential oils, and my approach to life changed forever. Now, I’ve made it my mission to share what I’ve learned about aromatherapy with my friends, family, and the world. Because - life is so much better with health, happiness, and community.

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