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Citrus aurantifolia


Citrus limonellus Miq., Citrus medica Linn. var. acida Brandis., Citrus acida Roxb., Citrus aurantium Linn. var. amara Engl., Citrus javanica Blume., Citrus notissima Blanco. [2] [3] [5]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Limau Nipis, Limau Masam

Kelangsa (Aceh); Jeruk Nipis (Sunda); Jeruk Pecel (Java); Jeruk Alit, Kaputungan, Lemo (Bali); Dongaceta (Bima); Mudutelong (Flores); Jeru (Sawu); Lemo Ape, Lemo Kapsa (Bugis); Ahusi Hinsi, Aupsifis (Seram); Inta, Lemonepis, Ausinepis, Usinepese (Ambon); Wanabeudu (Halmahera)

Thailand: Somma Nao, Manao
Philippine: Dayap, Sour Lime
Vietnam: Chanh, Chanh Ta
India: Nibu, Nimbu (Hindi) 

Limoo, Limou Torsh, Omani, Amani 

China: Zhi Qiao 


French: Lime Acide, Llimettier 
German: Limette, Limone 

Lima, Lima Agria [3]

General Information


Citrus aurantifolia is a member of the Rutaceae family. It is an evergreen tree which can reach up to 5m high. The leaves are medium sized measuring 6-9cm long, ovate, bluntly pointed at tips, rounded to cunate at the base. The flowers are white, solitary or in a short racemes, small and fragrant. The fruits are yellow when ripe, globose measuring 4-5 cm in diameter with thinner rind and very sour. [1]

Plant Part Used

Fruit, leaves, flowers, bark and roots [1] [2] [3] [4]

Chemical Constituents

1,4-cineole, linalool; 1,8-cineole; 2,4,6-trichloroanisole; 5-geranoxy-7-methoxy-coumarin; 6,7-dimethoxycoumarin; 8-geranoxypsoralen; 9,10-dimethyl-1,2-benxanthracene; a-bergamotene; a-phellandrene; a-pinene; a-terpineol; b-bisabolene; b-caryophyllene; b-pinene, d-limonene;camphene; g-terpenene; p-cymene; apigenin; apigenin-6-C-[alpha-l-arabinopyranosyl-(1-->6)]-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside; apigenin-8-C-[alpha-L-arabinopyranosyl-(1-->6)]-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside; benzo-[a]-pyrene; berfapten; bergamottin; ciral; citronellol; diosmetin-6,8-di- C-beta- d-glucopyranoside; fenchol; germacrene B; imperatorin; isoimperatorin; isopimpinellin; isovitexin; kaempferol; kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside-6"-(3-hydroxy-3-methyl glutarate);  kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside-6"-(3-hydroxy-3-methyl glutarate)-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside; l-camphor; limettin; limonene; nobiletin; o-cymene; oxypeucedanin hydrate; phellopterin; quercetin; rutin; sabinene; terpinolene; vicenin II; vitexin. [1] [6] [21] [22]

Traditional Used:

C. aurantifolia is considered an antiscorbutic, stomachic, appetizer, refrigerant and febrifuge. It is bitter, sour and cooling and dissipate blocked energy, expectorant, mucolytic, diuretic, diaphoretic and digestive. 

In traditional Malay medicine the juice fruit of C. aurantifolia is much revered as a solvent for many concoction. It forms the medium for dissolving active principles from plant parts into the medicine. 

Gastrointestinal Diseases

Decoction of the roots helps in controlling biliousness, dysentery and diarrhea. It is also used in the treatment of colic. The juice has antidiarrhoeal properties while the seeds can expel intestinal worms. Decoction of the bark can help relieve flatulence. 

Inflammatory diseases

The roots, fruits and leaves each has the ability to control fever including influenza and malaria. Infusion of the leaves has been given for fever with jaundice, sorethroat and oral thrush. The decoction of the roots can help relieve gonorrhea. 

Other uses 

The fruit juice is used to increase stamina, treat dysfunctional uterine bleeding. In Mayan medicine the juice is considered a tonic for libido and an antidote for poisons. They make use of the juice as facial wash to rejuvenate skin and remove stains. Amongst the Malays, the juice is used to control epistaxis and given in its pure form as a remedy for athralgia, diabetes and atherosclerosis. The diluted form is good as mouth wash for sore mouth and sorethroat. The leaves as a poultice is applied over the head to relieve headache while a decoction is considered a tonic and is used in the treatment of hypertension and common cold. A decoction of the flower is believed to help induce sleep for those with insomnia. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antiplatelet activity

A hydroalcoholic extract of lime in the form of tincture had been found to have anti-platelet aggregation activity. It was found to have significantly inhibit ADP and epinephrine induced platelet aggregation in a concentration dependent manner. [7] 

Antimicrobial activity

C. aurantifolia root extract was amongst those found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella penumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Beta-haemolytic streptococci, Escherichia coli and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The fruit on the other hand was found to inhibit Anaeorbc facultative bacteria i.e. Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25213, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella paratyphi, Shigella flexnerii, Streptococcus faecalis, Citrobacter spp. Serratia spp, Klebsiella pneumonia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli ATTC 25922, and Escherichia coli. C. aurantifolia proved to have significant antimycobacterial activity especially against the isoniazid resistant strain. [9] [10] [11] [12] 

Immunomodulatory activity

Clarified fresh lime juice was tested in mitogen activated cultured mononuclear cells to exhibit its immunomodulating activity. It was found that it could significantly inhibit proliferation of phytohaemagglutinin activated mononuclear cells at 250 and 500microg/l of the extract and inhibited the proliferation of staphylococcal protein A (SPA) activated mononuclear cells at 500 microg/l dose. [13] 

Cytotoxic activity

Two studies done on the anticancer activity of concentrated lime juice found that it could effectively inhibit the growth of human lymphoblastoid B cell line (RPMI-8866) and human pancreatic cancer cells (Panc-28 cells). In the case of RPMI 8866 cells it was concluded that this activity is attributed to the presence of biologically active macromolecules, while in Panc-28 cells the apoptosis was inducted by the presence of flavonoids and limonoids. [14] [15] 

Antityrosinase activity

Citrus aurantifolia was amongst the plants tested for their antityrosinase activity. At a concentration of 50 microg/l the methanolic extract of the plant showed 59.0% inhibitory activity against mushroom tyrosinase. [16] 

Antifertility activity

Undiluted lime juice was found to significantly reduced the number of ova shed by adult female Sprague-Dawley rats. The juice caused irregular oestrus cycle, partially block ovulation and thus could possibly compromise fertility. [17] 

Antiobesity activity

The essential oil extracted from C. aurantifolia was found to promote anorexia and thus aid in reducing weight when given alone in animal models of obesity. When given in combination to ketotifen, it caused significant suppression in weight gain. [18] 

Antioxidant activity

The essential oil of Citrus aurantifolia had significant antioxidant activity, the highest amongst 3 citrus species tested. The juice and peel extract also showed antioxidant activity in a dose dependent manner. [19] [20] 

Anticholinesterase activity

The essential oil extracted from the leaves of C. aurantifolia showed anticholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase activity. The methanol extracts of the peel and leaves also demonstrated similar activity. [21] [22]


Expressed lime oil contains certain constituted coumarins which are known to cause phototoxicity in humans. It has also been found to promote tumour formation on the skin and forestomach epithelium of mice caused by 9,10-dimethyl-1,2-benxanthracene and benzo-[a]-pyrene, respectively. The distilled lime oil is devoid of these toxic activities. [1]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

The lime juice has been found to reduce the effects of warfarin in Wistar strain albino rats. On the other hand the hydroalcoholic extract of lime has the possibility of potentiating the effects of anticoagulants. Thus, patient on warfarin should not take lime indiscriminately. [7] [8]

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info

  2) Cultivation


  1. Khan IA., Abourashed EA., Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients John Wiley and Sons Publication, New Jersey 2010, pg. 422 – 423.
  2. Khare CP., Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary, Springer, Berlin 2007, pg. 154.
  3. Dalimartha S., Atlas Tumbuhan Obat Indonesia, Volume 2, Niaga Swadaya, Jakarta pg. 85 – 92.
  4. Kunow MA., Maya Medicine: Traditional Healing in Yucatan, UNM Press, New Mexico 2003, pg. 117.
  5. Ong HC., Buah – Khasiat Makanan & Ubatan Utusan Publications and Distributors, Kuala Lumpur 2004, pg. 94 – 95.
  6. Berhow MA, Bennett RD, Poling SM, Vannier S, Hidaka T, Omura M. Acylated flavonoids in callus cultures of Citrus aurantifolia. Phytochemistry. 1994 Jul;36(5):1225-7.
  7. Piccinelli AL, García Mesa M, Armenteros DM, Alfonso MA, Arevalo AC, Campone L, Rastrelli L. HPLC-PDA-MS and NMR characterization of C-glycosyl flavones in a hydroalcoholic extract of Citrus aurantifolia leaves with antiplatelet activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Mar 12;56(5):1574-81. Epub 2008 Feb 16.
  8. Adepoju G, Adeyemi T. Evaluation of the effect of lime fruit juice on the anticoagulant effect of warfarin. J Young Pharm. 2010 Jul;2(3):269-72.
  9. Ebana RU, Madunagu BE, Ekpe ED, Otung IN. Microbiological exploitation of cardiac glycosides and alkaloids from Garcinia kola, Borreria ocymoides, Kola nitida and Citrus aurantifolia. J Appl Bacteriol. 1991 Nov;71(5):398-401.
  10. Aibinu I, Adenipekun T, Adelowotan T, Ogunsanya T, Odugbemi T. Evaluation of the antimicrobial properties of different parts of Citrus aurantifolia (lime fruit) as used locally. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2006 Nov 13;4(2):185-90.
  11. Camacho-Corona Mdel R, Ramírez-Cabrera MA, Santiago OG, Garza-González E, Palacios Ide P, Luna-Herrera J.  Activity against drug resistant-tuberculosis strains of plants used in Mexican traditional medicine to treat tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. Phytother Res. 2008 Jan;22(1):82-5.
  12. Rahman S, Parvez AK, Islam R, Khan MH. Antibacterial activity of natural spices on multiple drug resistant Escherichia coli isolated from drinking water, Bangladesh. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2011 Mar 15;10:10.
  13. Gharagozloo M, Ghaderi A. Immunomodulatory effect of concentrated lime juice extract on activated human mononuclear cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Sep;77(1):85-90.
  14. Gharagozloo M, Doroudchi M, Ghaderi A. Effects of Citrus aurantifolia concentrated extract on the spontaneous proliferation of MDA-MB-453 and RPMI-8866 tumor cell lines. Phytomedicine. 2002 Jul;9(5):475-7.
  15. Patil JR, Chidambara Murthy KN, Jayaprakasha GK, Chetti MB, Patil BS. Bioactive compounds from Mexican lime ( Citrus aurantifolia ) juice induce apoptosis in human pancreatic cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Nov 25;57(22):10933-42.
  16. Adhikari A, Devkota HP, Takano A, Masuda K, Nakane T, Basnet P, Skalko-Basnet N. Screening of Nepalese crude drugs traditionally used to treat hyperpigmentation: in vitro tyrosinase inhibition. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2008 Oct;30(5):353-60.
  17. Salawu AA, Osinubi AA, Dosumu OO, Kusemiju TO, Noronha CC, Okanlawon AO. Effect of the juice of lime (Citrus aurantifolia) on estrous cycle and ovulation of Sprague-Dawley rats. Endocr Pract. 2010 Jul-Aug;16(4):561-5.
  18. Asnaashari S, Delazar A, Habibi B, Vasfi R, Nahar L, Hamedeyazdan S, Sarker SD. Essential oil from Citrus aurantifolia prevents ketotifen-induced weight-gain in mice. Phytother Res. 2010 Dec;24(12):1893-7.
  19. Tundis R, Loizzo MR, Bonesi M, Menichini F, Mastellone V, Colica C, Menichini F. Comparative study on the antioxidant capacity and cholinesterase inhibitory activity of Citrus aurantifolia Swingle, C. aurantium L., and C. bergamia Risso and Poit. peel essential oils. J Food Sci. 2012 Jan;77(1):H40-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02511.x.
  20. Boshtam M, Moshtaghian J, Naderi G, Asgary S, Nayeri H. Antioxidant effects of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) juice and peel extract on LDL oxidation. J Res Med Sci. 2011 Jul;16(7):951-5.
  21. Chaiyana W, Okonogi S. Inhibition of cholinesterase by essential oil from food plant. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jun 15;19(8-9):836-9. Epub 2012 Apr 15.
  22. Loizzo MR, Tundis R, Bonesi M, Menichini F, De Luca D, Colica C, Menichini F. Evaluation of Citrus aurantifolia peel and leaves extracts for their chemical composition, antioxidant and anti-cholinesterase activities. J Sci Food Agric. 2012 May 16. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.5708. [Epub ahead of print]

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