Citrus oils are some of my favorites. Their uplifting (and practically mouth-watering) scent can literally transport you to a citrus grove.
I recently created a room spray for a client that was a delicious blend of:
- Sweet orange (citrus sinensis)
- Red mandarin ( Citrus reticulata)
- Lemon (Citrus limon)
- Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Care must be taken when using these beautiful oils as some of the citrus oils are phototoxic.
Citrus peel oils – which are extracted through expression/cold pressing – are different from most other essential oils which are steam distilled (Schnaubelt, 2011).
Steam distillation limits the size of molecules traveling into the essential oil, but cold pressing does not. Because of this, larger, photosensitizing coumarine molecules are generally present in citrus peel oils (Schnaubelt, 2011).
The following cold-pressed citrus oils contain the phototoxic furanocoumarin molecule called bergaptene (NAHA, 2015):
- Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Tisserand and Young recommend a dermal maximum use of 0.4% to avoid phototoxicity.
- Lemon (Citrus limon) Tisserand and Young recommend a dermal maximum of 2.0% for the cold pressed oil to avoid the risk of a phototoxic reaction.
- Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) Tisserand and Young recommend a dermal maximum of 0.7% for the cold pressed oil to avoid the risk of a phototoxic reaction.
- Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) Tisserand and Young recommend a dermal maximum of 4% to avoid risk of phototoxic reaction.
The following cold-pressed citrus oils are NOT phototoxic:
- Bergamot – Bergapteneless FCF: Furanocoumarin Free (Citrus bergamia)
- Mandarin (Citrus reticulate)
- Orange sweet (Citrus sinensis)
Interestingly, steam distilled lemon and lime essential oils are not phototoxic; however, these oils are mostly used in the fragrance and flavor industry and are inferior oils for aromatherapy (Price, 1993).
If you’d like to try citrus oils for yourself, here’s a sunny, uplifting blend for your diffuser:
- 4 drops grapefruit
- 4 drops lime
- 4 drops orange
Price, S. (1993). Aromatherapy Workbook. (1993). London: HarperCollins
Schnaubelt, K. (2011). The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils. Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
National Association of Aromatherapy. (2015). Safety Information [web page]. Retrieved from http://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety/#dermal
Tisserand, R. & Young, R. (2013). Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill Linvingstone.