Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) belongs to the genus Citrus which is a member of the plant family Rutaceae. The genus Citrus is the world’s number one fruit tree crop with an annual production of about 123 million tonnes as of the year 2010.
Sweet orange is a native Asian crop but is now widely spread across the Pacific and the warm regions of the world. It has a height of 9-10m with large spines on its branches. Its leaves contain copious oil which makes them emit a characteristic citrus aroma (Goldhamer et al., 2012).
The sweet orange crop produces globe-shaped or oval-shaped fruits which turn yellow or orange on ripening. The fruit comprises a sweet/sour pulp with numerous seeds enclosed within.
Sweet orange is consumed world over as an excellent vitamin C source (Etebu & Nwauzoma, 2014). Traditionally, it has been used for the treatment of cold, menstrual disorder, obesity, tuberculosis, diarrhea, cramps, cough, bronchitis, anxiety, angina, constipation, stress, depression and hypertension (Milind & Chaturvede, 2012).
The sweet orange leaves, peels, fruits, juice and roots contain important chemical compounds that find their application in pharmacology. These chemical compounds include peptides, steroids, carbohydrates, carotenoids, alkylamines, alkanes, fatty acids, carbamates, coumarins, hydroxyamides, flavonoids, potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium (Favela-Hernandez et al., 2016).
Several studies have been conducted to demonstrate the antibacterial property of sweet orange essential oil. O’bryan et al. (2008) conducted a study on orange essential oils antimicrobial activities against Salmonella spp. In the study, disc diffusion assay method was used to examine the antibacterial action of seven citrus essential oils against 11 strains of Salmonella. According to the results, orange terpenes, orange essence terpenes, and single-folded d-limonene showed inhibitory activity against the Salmonella spp.
In another study, Fisher and Philips (2009) explored the antimicrobial effect of a mixture of sweet orange and bergamot essential oils on Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis. The results showed that the two essential oils affected the cell membranes and cell homeostasis of bacteria cells leading to inhibited cell growth and subsequent death.
Matiz-Melo et al. (2012) did a study on effectiveness of antimicrobial formulations for acne based on sweet orange and sweet basil essential oils. In this study, gel formulations were prepared based on the two essential oils and acetic acid, and their effectiveness was examined in patients affected by acne. The findings showed that all the subjects that received treatment reported a remarkable improvement of their acne condition with a 43% to 75% clearance of lesions.
Research showing the antifungal activity of sweet orange essential oil exists in literature. Trovato et al. (2000) explored the in vitro antimycotic activity of some medicinal plants containing flavonoids. In the study, antimycotic activity of sweet orange oil was examined “in vitro” on strains of a fungus known as Candida albicans. The findings revealed that petroleum ether and aqueous ethanol extracts of sweet orange essential oil inhibited growth of the strains of the fungi.
Singh et al. (2010) examined the chemical profile, antifungal, antiaflatoxigenic and antioxidant activity of Citrus maxima Burm. and Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) essential oils and their cyclic monoterpenes, DL-limonene. Both oils showed antioxidant activity as well as inhibiting the production of aflatoxin. The researchers therefore recommended use of plant based antimicrobials and antioxidants to check against fungal infestation, production of aflatoxin and peroxidation of lipids to enhance the shelf life of food products.
Liu et al. (2012) explored the effect of citrus polymethoxylated flavones on a fungus called Aspergillus niger. The findings established that the citrus polymethoxylated flavones had good inhibitory effect on growth of Aspergillus niger fungus. The findings recommended that sweet orange essential oil be exploited and used as a natural biopreservative in place of synthetic food preservatives.
Empirical research shows that sweet orange essential oil has antiparasitic property. This means the ability to inhibit growth of parasites. Parasites are among the major causes of diseases in the entire world. Due to the resistance developed by parasites against most synthetic treatments, natural products present a good alternative.
Bhat and Surolia (2001) sought to explore the antimalarial activity of extracts obtained from Citrus sinensis, Carica papaya, and Swertia chirata. Aqueous and organic solvent of these extracts were tested against Plasmodium falciparum. According to the findings all the extracts showed significant antiplasmodial activity. The conclusion was that, with further research, extracts from the three plants could be used to develop anti-malarial drugs.
Habila et al. (2010) evaluated the activity of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus citriodora, and Cymboogon citratus against Trypanosoma brucei brucei (Tbb) and Trypanosoma evansi. According to the results all the essential oils significantly decreased the number of Tbb and Trypanosoma evansi cells. Notably, the activity of sweet orange essential oil against the Trypanosomes was found to be highest. The researchers recommended that more research is needed to establish the real mode of action of these extracts before they are utilized in the manufacture of anti-trypanosomes drugs.
In another study to examine the antiplasmodial activity of botanical extracts against Plasmodium falciparum, Bagavan et al. (2011) established that the extracts of sweet orange plant had a moderate inhibitory effect on growth of the parasite. Thus the researchers recommended that extracts from the sweet orange plant should be used to develop anti-protozoan drugs.
Research shows that extracts from sweet orange plant show antiproliferative activity against selected cells. That means, the sweet orange oil has the ability to inhibit or prevent the rapid increase in number of cells in tissues or organs found in living organisms.
Research conducted by Vitali et al. (2006) showed that a standardized extract of sweet orange juice inhibited proliferation of fibroblast cells in the lungs and epithelial prostate cells.
Carmada et al. (2007) did a study on the antiproliferative activity of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), Citrus deliciosa, Citrus clementine, Citrus aurantium extracts against human chronic myelogenous leukemia, human leukemia, and human breast adenocarcinoma cell lines. The findings showed that juices extracted from all the plants independently showed antiproliferative activity of the targeted cells.
Sergeev et al. (2007) showed that sweet orange peel contains flavonoids that were antiproliferative and apoptotic (death of cells) to the cells causing human breast cancer.
In another study, Xiao et al. (2009) examined the effect of polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) extracted from the peels of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) fruit on the growth of human lung cancer cells. The findings revealed that the sweet orange extracts had the capacity to inhibit growth of the human lung cancer cells.
Chinedu et al. (2014) evaluated the antiproliferative and cytostatic effect of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) fruit juice on rapidly proliferating cells. The results showed that sweet orange fruit juice extracts had the potential for causing antiproliferative and cytostatic effect on fast proliferating or cancerous cells.
Research shows that sweet orange juice has anti-obesity properties. Cardile et al. (2015) examined the benefits of red orange juice and its active components in weight management and obesity. The findings revealed that sweet orange juice had synergistic effect on fat reduction in humans.
Bagavan, A., Rahuman, A.A., Kamaraj, C., Kaushik, N.K., Mohanakrishnan, D. and Sahal, D.(2011). Antiplasmodial activity of botanical extracts against Plasmodium falciparum. Parasitology Research, 108, 1099-1109.
Bhat, G.P. and Surolia, N.(2001). In vitro antimalarial activity of extracts of three plants used in the traditional medicine of India. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 65(4), 304-308.
Camarda, L., di Stefano, V., del Bosco, S.F. and Schillaci D. (2007). Antiproliferative activity of citrus juices and HPLC evaluation of their flavonoid composition. Fitoterapia, 78, 426-429.
Cardile, V., Graziano, A.C. and Venditti, A. Clinical evaluation of Moro (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck) orange juice supplementation for the weight management. Natural Product Research, 15, 1-5.
Chinedu, E., Arome, D., Ameh, S.F. and Ameh, G.E. (2014). Evaluation of the antiproliferative and cytostatic effect of Citrus sinensis (orange) fruit juice. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, 4(1), 20-22.
Etebu, E. and Nwauzoma, A.B. A. (2014). A review on sweet orange (Citrus Sinensis Osbeck): health, diseases, and management. American Journal of Research Coomunication, 2(2), 33–70.
Favela-Hernandez, J.M.J., Gonzalez-Santiago, O. Ramirez-Cabrera, M., Esquivel-Ferrino, P.C. and Camacho-Corona, M. R. (2016). Chemistry and Pharmacology of Citrus sinensis. Molecules, 21(2), 247.
Fisher, K. and Philips, C.A. (2009). The mechanism of action of a citrus oil blend against Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 106(4), 1343-1349.
Goldhamer, D.A., Intrigliolo, D.S., Castel, J.R. and Fereres, E.(2012). Citrus. In: Pasquale Steduto P., Theodore C., Hsiao T.C., Elias Fereres E., Dirk Raes D., editors. Crop Yield response to Water: FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 66. 1st ed. Volume 49. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Rome, Italy: 2012. pp. 300–315
Habila, N., Agbaji, A.S., Ladan, Z., Bello, I.A., Haruna, E., Dakare, M.A. and Atolagbe, T.O. (2010). Evaluation of in vitro activity of essential oils against Trypanosoma brucei brucei and Trypanosoma evansi. Journal of Parasitology Research.
Liu, L., Xu, X., Cheng, D., Yao X. and Pan, S.(2012). Structure-activity relationship of citrus polymethoxylated flavones and their inhibitory effects on Aspergillus niger. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60(17),4336–4341.
Lu, Y., Xi W., Ding, X., Fan, S., Zhang, Y., Jiang, D., Li, Y., Huang, C. and Zhou, Z. (2013). Citrange Fruit Extracts Alleviate Obesity-Associated Metabolic Disorder in High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese C57BL/6 Mouse. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, (14), 23736–23750.
Matiz-Melo, G., Osorio, M., Camacho, F. and Atencia, M. (2012). Effectiveness of antimicrobial formulations for acne based on sweet orange and sweet basil essential oils. Biomedica: revista del Instituto Nacional de Salud, 32(1), 125-133.
Milind P., Chaturvede D. Orange: Range of benefits. Int. Res. J. Pharm. 2012;3:59–63.
O’bryan, C., Crandall, P.G., Chalova, V., and Ricke, S. (2008). Orange essential oils antimicrobial activities against Salmonella spp. Journal of Food Science, 73(6), 264-267.
Sergeev, I.N., Ho, C.T., Li, S., Colby, J. and Dushenkov, S. (2007). Apoptosis-inducing activity of hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones and polymethoxyflavones from orange peel in human breast cancer cells. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 51,1478-1484.
Singh, P., Shukla. R., Prakash, B., Kumar, A., Singh, S., Mishra, P.K. and Dubey, N.K. (2010). Chemical profile, antifungal, antiaflatoxigenic and antioxidant activity of Citrus maxima Burm. and Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck essential oils and their cyclic monoterpene, dl-limonene. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 48(6), 1734-1740.
Trovato, A., Monforte, M.T., Forestieri, A.M. and Pizzimenti, F. (2000). In vitro anti-mycotic activity of some medicinal plants containing flavonoids. Journal of Bollettino chimico farmaceutico, 139(5), 225-227.
Vitali, F., Pennisi, C., Tomaino, A., Bonina, F., De Pasquale, A., Saija, A., Tita, B.(2006). Effect of a standardized extract of red orange juice on proliferation of human prostate cells in vitro. Fitoterapia, 77, 151–155.
Xiao, H., Yang, C.S., Li S., Jin, H., Ho, C.T. and Patel, T. (2009). Monodemethylated polymethoxyflavones from sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) peel inhibit growth of human lung cancer cells by apoptosis. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 53:398-406.
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