Used widely in cleaning products and as an air freshener, lemons have long been regarded for their purifying properties. The bright, fresh scent cleanses your senses and the essential oil offers excellent health benefits that go far beyond its use as a cleaner.
The sharp aroma and vivid color of freshly picked fruit lend lemon oil its recognizable characteristics. With health benefits ranging from improved mood to more beautiful skin, lemon essential oil is a true powerhouse.
What Is Lemon Essential Oil?
Lemon essential oil is derived from the lemon plant known scientifically as Citrus limon. The lemon plant is native to Asia, particularly India where it has been cultivated for centuries for use in traditional medicine as well as for furniture polish and a household cleanser to brighten wood finishes. Lemon trees and oil are a staple in North America and Europe in modern times, but they weren’t imported to Europe until the Middle Ages.
This plant features highly perfumed flower blossoms that are pink and white in color. The lemons start out as green and turn yellow once they ripen. After harvest, the oil is cold pressed from the rinds of the lemons. The aromatherapy shelf life of lemon essential oil is around eight to 10 months, but you can still use this oil in a diffuser as vapor therapy after that time frame.
The color of a vivid school bus or a lively canary, fresh lemons pack a punch in the visual department. Lemon essential oil tends to be more of a chartreuse color with yellow as the main hue with a touch of green mixed in. The viscosity of lemon essential oil is watery, which pairs well with other citrus oils such as tangerine, eucalyptus, bergamot and tea tree oil.
The main chemical components of lemon essential oil are pinene, camphene and terpene, which lend this essential oil its crisp, refreshing aroma. Nicknamed “liquid sunshine,” this essential oil can brighten your day from the moment the drops leave the amber glass bottle. The aroma of lemon essential oil is sharp, fresh and citrusy.
Health Benefits and Lemon Essential Oil Uses
Eliminates Bacteria and Freshens Breath
Lemon essential oil can be added to warm water as a mouthwash to freshen breath, whiten teeth and kill bacteria. Lemon oil contains antimicrobial properties that work to destroy bacteria that cause common oral ailments including cold sores and halitosis.
One study published in 2014 demonstrated the effects of lemon essential oil in treating candida that can cause oral thrush — an oral fungal infection that causes bumps, difficulty swallowing and scabbing. Researchers examined several commercial lemon essential oils against five strains of candida yeast including Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis. A majority of the commercial lemon oils showed antifungal properties that could inhibit growth or completely eliminate the candida strains.
The powerful citrus compounds in lemon essential oil can also whiten teeth and prevent tooth decay. While excessive use of acidic compounds can lead to the breakdown of tooth enamel, studies have shown these effects are not present in citrus essential oils.
That means you can use lemon essential oil to cleanse your palate and keep your teeth looking white and healthy without fear of tooth damage. For these health benefits, simply add a couple drops of lemon essential oil to warm water and use as a mouthwash. For whiter teeth, make a paste using a few drops of lemon essential oil, baking soda and coconut oil. Rub onto teeth, leave for two minutes and rinse well.
Lemons have been recommended in traditional and modern medicine as a powerful component to accelerating weight loss. You’ve probably read that you should start your day off with a cup of hot water and lemon or lemon essential oil to reduce fat stores and eliminate toxins. That’s because lemons and their oils contain d-limonene, a chemical compound that supports metabolism and cleans your lymphatic system to accelerate fat reduction.
A 2008 Japanese study tested lemon essential oil on mice in the lab to investigate the effects of lemon polyphenols on obesity. The mice that received lemon polyphenols in addition to their high fat diet, showed lower body weight gain rates and insulin resistance after 12 weeks. To reap these health benefits of lemon essential oil, simply add one or two drops of lemon essential oil to hot water and drink before each meal or once in the morning.
Aromatherapy and Vapor Therapy
Lemon essential oil is used widely in Ayurveda where it is known by the names Nimbuka, Jambira and Dantashata. Used for culinary, medicinal and purification purposes, lemon essential oil boosts focus and concentration, builds immunity, purifies blood and supports digestion.
Lemon oil has been shown to have powerful effects when it comes to streamlining digestion and alleviating conditions such as constipation and gastritis. A study published in 2009 found that when rats were given lemon oil, they showed reduced symptoms of gastritis. The lemon oil works to reduce the erosion of the stomach lining to protect against lesions that can cause pain and digestive problems.
A second Chinese study published in 2005 examined the effect of aromatherapy in treating constipation. The study examined patients who had symptoms of constipation over a 10-day period. The experimental group was given an abdominal massage using essential oils including lemon, peppermint and rosemary. The control group received a placebo massage that did not contain essential oils or aromas. At the end of the study, the experimental group showed significantly lower degrees of constipation and increased bowel movements.
To reap these digestive health benefits, use lemon essential oil aromatherapy. You can rub the oil on your stomach to alleviate cramps and pains associated with bad digestion. Alternatively, add a few drops of lemon oil to a diffuser and breath deeply for five to 10 minutes.
Lemon essential oil is particularly useful for people who are prone to motion sickness and women in the early stages of pregnancy who experience morning sickness. A natural and effective remedy, this essential oil is a great choice for pregnant and breastfeeding women as you don’t have to worry about harming the baby by taking prescription medications.
A study published in the Iran Red Crescent Medical Journal examined the effects of lemon essential oil on nausea during pregnancy. The clinical trial consisted of 100 pregnant women who reported nausea and vomiting, which were divided into intervention and control groups. The two groups were either given aromatherapy using lemon essential oil or a placebo at the first signs of nausea over a period of four days. The results showed significantly lower levels of nausea in the women who received lemon oil when compared to the control group.
If you feel nauseous, add a few drops of lemon oil to your diffuser. You can also place a drop underneath your nose, just above your upper lip before boarding an airplane or boat to alleviate motion sickness.
Lemon oil also has the ability to boost mood through both aromatherapy and topical applications. When used in a diffuser, lemon oil offers an uplifting sensation that can lead to a positive mood and improve your day. The lemon oil also purifies the air in the room, leading to fresher, healthier air with each inhalation.
Great in aromatherapy, lemon oil also boasts these benefits when applied topically as a massage oil. For these health benefits, add four drops of lemon oil to your diffuser, sit back and enjoy the invigorating and energizing effects. Alternatively, massage muscles and sore spots with two drops of lemon oil and two drops carrier oil. Make sure to inhale the aroma for the best results.
Lemon oil is a popular additive in many facial creams and body lotions thanks to its potent health benefits. Lemon oil has the potential to reduce the appearance and occurrence of acne while rejuvenating skin by decreasing cell and tissue damage.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Researchers have shown that lemon oil contains antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, which work to reduce free radicals that can cause signs of premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. A scientific review published in 2017 found that lemon essential oil is effective in treating skin disorders ranging from rosacea and cellulite to warts, blisters and insect bites. Scientists believe the antimicrobial compounds in lemon oil work to eliminate the bacteria that cause many of these skin conditions.
For these skin benefits, add lemon oil to your daily skin care regimen. Make a face wash by blending a few drops each of lemon oil, lavender oil, frankincense oil and coconut oil. Apply to skin and rinse well. Alternatively, you can combine two to three drops of lemon oil with honey and baking soda to make a rejuvenating face mask.
Lemon oil derives its powerful purifying and cleansing properties from antimicrobial compounds such as b-pinene and limonene. This makes lemon oil a useful tool for everything from cleaning leather furniture that can harbor bacteria in tiny folds to washing down kitchen countertops.
The beauty of using lemon oil as a household cleaner is that you don’t have to contaminate your home with harmful chemicals and toxins that are present in modern cleaners. Studies have shown that lemon oil is particularly useful in preventing listeria and salmonella that can cause dangerous digestive issues. To use lemon oil as a cleaner, simply add 40 drops of lemon essential oil along with 20 drops of tea tree oil, a dash of white vinegar and purified water to a 16-ounce spray bottle.
Side Effects of Lemon Essential Oil
In general, lemon oil is non-toxic and has few reported side effects. Some minor issues have been reported including skin irritation and allergic reactions in certain individuals. In addition, lemon essential oil comes with some precautions when it comes to use and exposure to sunlight.
As with many all-natural products, lemon oil can cause skin irritation and allergies in sensitive individuals. To avoid this side effect, avoid lemon essential oil if you are allergic to lemons or byproducts that contain large amounts of lemons. Test the lemon essential oil on a small part of your skin before applying to larger areas. Avoid using on sensitive areas such as around the eyes and mouth. Stop use if a rash or irritation occurs and always remember to apply using carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil.
Don’t apply lemon oil to skin when heading out in the sun as the oil can cause sensitivity when exposed to UV rays. When exposed to direct sunlight, lemon essential oil can cause irritation, a burning sensation and hyperpigmentation. To avoid this side effect, avoid exposing skin treated with lemon oil to sunlight for eight hours.
Remember, there are a few things you can do to avoid most of these side effects. Since the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate essential oils, always use high-quality or therapeutic-grade essential oils. Lower quality oils can contain harmful chemicals that can trigger additional side effects. If you have a serious medical condition, consult with a physician before using essential oils.
Brighten Up Your World With Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon oil is a vibrant citrus fruit that has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that work to purify the body and your home. Use lemon oil in aromatherapy to boost your mood and alleviate nausea or opt for oral use where you can increase weight loss and freshen breath. However you decide to use lemon essential oil, you’re sure to love the bright fragrance and the health benefits it provides.