If you've been to my site, you'll notice that I have long reported the health benefits of lemons. Packed with nutrients, lemons are one of the most widely used tropical fruits in the world. Their positive reputation mainly comes from their high concentrations of vitamin C. But it's not just the lemon fruit that's beneficial. When used as an essential oil, lemon oil can be applied topically, used for cleaning, and used for many other applications.
Lemon essential oil, also known as Citrus limon oil, is extracted from lemon peels, which have many volatile oil glands in their pits.1 Approximately 1,000 lemons are needed to produce one pound of lemon oil.2 The citrus scent of lemons comes from a chemical compound called limonene, which comprises the majority of lemon oil.3
Lemons were used by ancient Indians, Egyptians and Romans as a remedy for infectious diseases. Today, they are commonly grown in Europe and the United States, and are used in various products.
Apart from being used in making lemonade, lemon oil can be used as: 4,5
• Food ingredient — A tasty addition to pastries like pies, cakes and marinades
• Aromatherapy oil and air freshener — Because of its pleasant citrus fragrance
• Medicine — May be used for health problems like headaches, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and asthma
• Gargle — To help relieve sore throat, mouth inflammations and tonsillitis
• Treatment for calluses and warts — Applying it to affected areas regularly can help reduce the appearance of these on your skin
• Skin and hair product — Can help treat blemished skin, exfoliate dead skin and reduce acne. It can also improve appearance of hair and used to remove dandruff. Lemon oil is also added to personal care products
• Disinfectant — An ideal disinfectant for chopping boards, countertops, public bathrooms and even hospitals
• Spot remove — Can help remove gum, oil and grease stains from clothes and surfaces
• Insect repellent and insect bite treatment — Works as natural repellent and antibacterial
Limonene makes up majority of lemon oil (about 50 to 70 percent). Lemon oil contains organic compounds, such as pinene, terpinene and terpineol, and non-volatile compounds.
Lemons are packed with a potent nutritional profile and are a low-glycemic fruit. The fruit contains citric acid, which is a natural preservative and makes up 8 percent of the lemon. Lemons are also excellent sources of vitamin C or ascorbic acid, a potent water-soluble antioxidant. In spite of their acidic nature, they have an alkalizing effect when metabolized in your body.6
Lemons also have phenomenal antioxidant properties due to unique flavonoid compounds. In a study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, lemons, as well as other citrus fruits, contain a dominant flavonoid class called flavanones, such as hesperidin and eriocitrin.
These nutrients are found to have anti-inflammatory and free-radical quenching properties. Lemons also contain other antioxidants, such as alpha- and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. Other nutrients that can be found in these citrus fruits are:
- Vitamin A
- Folate and B-vitamins
- Pectin (a type of fiber)
Because of lemon's outstanding nutrient profile, it helps treat numerous health conditions. Lemon oil helps:
- Fight respiratory infections like bronchitis, coughs and sore throat. It can also bring relieve to discomfort from colds, fevers, flu and asthma
- Lower blood pressure and promote healthy blood circulation
- Support immune function by stimulating the production of white blood cells
- Detoxify your skin and body of toxins
- Inhibit inflammation
- Reduce broken capillaries and varicose veins
- Calm anxiety, improve mood and prevent emotional outbursts and violent behavior
- Control overactive sebaceous glands that contribute to acne and poor hair conditions
- Soothe acidity and heartburn, as it is helps balance your stomach pH level
- Address constipation and promote elimination of waste
- Sanitize wounds, household objects and hospital rooms due to its antibacterial properties
- Relive arthritis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties
Lemon oil is made by cold-pressing the peels. Heat processing, as opposed to cold pressing, negatively affects the quality of the oil by stripping its nutrients, flavor and color. Because of this, cold-pressed oils have higher quality and price. Lemon oil can also be produced through distillation. Distilled lemon oil is used in soluble essences in lemon drinks. However, this type of lemon oil has an inferior scent compared with its cold-pressed counterpart.
Lemon oil can be added to foods and beverages, or applied topically on your skin or on surfaces. Below are some ways on how lemon oil works its magic:7,8
- Adding two to three drops of lemon oil to tea or warm water can help relieve sore throat
- Applying a few drops of lemon oil to your nails can strengthen them. It may also help kill nail fungus
- Applying a drop or two of lemon oil behind your ears can calm you down
- Applying two to three drop of lemon oil to cold sores, calluses or blisters daily can help remove them
- Using one to two drops of lemon oil can help remove stains due to oil, grease and crayon marks
- Soaking dishcloths overnight in water with a drop of lemon oil can disinfect them
- Rubbing lemon oil on your hands can help sanitize them
- Apply a few drops of lemon oil on cotton balls and use on your skin for cleansing
- Use lemon oil in a diffuser to spread its fruity scent
- When inhaled, lemon oil can help improve mood
- One to two drops of lemon oil can help sterilize countertops and surfaces
It is advisable not to use lemon oil without diluting it first, as it can irritate skin. It must be used with a carrier oil for direct application to skin.9 Effective carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil and jojoba oil.
There are findings showing that lemon oil may promote photosensitivity, which increases your sensitivity to the sun and may lead to sunburn and uneven darkening of the skin. I also recommend you to avoid applying lemon oil and other citrus oils to your skin when outdoors, as blistering may occur.
People with sensitivities should use essential oils with caution. Reactions can vary from person to person. Some may experience skin reactions, while some may have respiratory problems.10 Consult your physician first before use. Pregnant women and children should also see a doctor before applying lemon oil.