Lemons & Limonene – A Natural Diuretic?

Limonene, on its own, is a clear, colorless liquid – a hydrocarbon, to be exact. It’s the luscious, lemony scent in many of the cleaning products you see on the supermarket shelf. It’s the biggest component of the oil that comes from lemon and other citrus peels.

It’s what gives lemon peels their bold tangy flavor, and what makes lemon zest a delicious addition to many dishes. It’s also been used for generations in West African traditional medicine to fight fluid build -up. Science now seems to be backing up the use of limonene as a natural diuretic.

The Study
A 2010 study by Japanese researchers using doses of four different compounds on mice found that d-limonene not only significantly increased urine volume, it had little effect when body fluids were normal. At increased levels, its diuretic effect kicked in to increase urine output. That makes it a potential treatment for edema.

What is Edema?
Edema is a condition where an abnormally large amount of fluid accumulates under the skin. It is often experienced in the lower legs, ankles, and feet. This is known as peripheral edema and is visible as swelling and tightened skin. Pulmonary edema, where fluid accumulates in the lungs, is a more serious condition.

Edema occurs when capillaries, the smallest of the blood vessels, begin to leak fluid into the surrounding tissue. As you can imagine, it means that the blood vessels are under pressure from either inside or outside, or the walls of the capillaries are damaged in some way.

There are a variety of underlying causes for edema, including,

  • Pregnancy,
  • Certain medication such as steroids and estrogen, among others,
  • Liver or kidney disease,
  • Heart failure,
  • Venous insufficiency, a condition where the blood does not circulate properly from the lower extremities back to the heart.

Untreated, it can cause a variety of issues from discomfort to deep venous thrombosis or blood clotting.

More studies are needed to determine the right dosage and other details, but a possible natural diuretic without the harsh side effects of artificial chemical compounds is surely a step in the right direction.

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