Recent years have seen a shift in trends from traditional western medicines to including alternative and natural remedies. Interest in the use of natural products for their curative properties has been increased due to widespread drug resistance as well as the prevalence of negative side effects. Greater awareness of the potential harms from a lot of pharmaceutical drugs or chemicals is always steering people away from prescription drugs and towards natural solutions. The use of natural compounds is seen as promising in overcoming the dangerous side effects associated with anticancer drugs on the market today.
The calamansi fruit is a native citrus present throughout Southeast Asia but remains popular and widespread only in the Philippines. It resembles a lime and is an essential-oil-rich fruit popularly used in beverages and condiments. It is used in the Philippines for a myriad of purposes, for anything from ordinary household uses to medicinal applications. For example, it can be used on the hair to eliminate itching and promote hair growth. Rubbing calamansi juice on insect bites banishes the itching and irritations. It bleaches freckles and helps clear up symptoms of acne vulgaris and pruritus vulvae. It is taken orally as a cough remedy and antiphlogistic. When slightly diluted and induced warm, it serves as a laxative. Due to this, scientists have begun to look into its anticancer properties. (1)
Researchers from various universities in Manila in the Philippines have begun to look into calamansi as a potential treatment for cancer. It has a very high level of something called ‘D-limonene’. This is a common compound found in some plants and is especially abundant in the peel of citrus fruits. It is a promising natural compound currently being studied for cancer prevention. (2)
Now, because the calamansi fruit is so popular in the Philippines and used for so many things, there is a high quantity of waste product, which includes the D-limonene-rich peel and pulp. Therefore, researchers began to look at if there were ways to reuse some of this product’s waste. The amount of waste produced through the processing of calamansi is equal to half of the entire fruit. The disposal of this waste in dumps contribute to pollution problems and environmental issues and has been a critical problem for environmental green ecology policies in the Philippines for years. Therefore, the extraction of limonene-rich essential oil from calamansi waste products assists with biodegradation of the waste. It also creates a high-value byproduct that could have a great economic impact. (2)
Anticancer Essential Oils
The researchers in this study looked at the amount of D-limonene in the essential oil of the calamansi fruit and found that it was the main component, at 92.67 percent of the total oil. This is more than is found in lemons! They also looked at something called the cytotoxicity, which is basically how well it fought off breast cancer cell lines in their study. They found that it was twice as toxic to the cancer cells than to normal cells.
From their findings, researchers decided that calamansi essential oil can be a good candidate for a natural low-cost chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent. That doesn’t mean you should import loads of them and get munching. It does, however, mean that you should watch this space. The natural remedy for cancer that you’ve been waiting for might not be as far away as we thought!