Lemon Essential Oil

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Lemon oil is an essential oil extracted from the rinds of the lemon. The peel of a lemon contains many aromatic oils and volatile compounds. These make up the lemon essential oil, which is a sharp smelling, citrus flavored oil. It is pleasing to the senses and has many applications in aromatherapy. Lemon essential oil provides many health benefits. It is also a powerful antioxidant and has quite an effect on our mind and spirituality.



Source

Lemon essential oil is produced from the rind of lemons ( citrus limon ). There is more oil in the greenish lemons than in ripe yellow ones. So, for producing the oil, green lemons are used. There are many varieties of lemons, each with a slight different flavor. So, lemon essential oil from different varieties has different aroma. Lots of lemons go into making just 1 ml of the oil, which shows how concentrated and powerful lemon essential oil.
Lemon, though very common, is a very powerful food. This citrus fruit performs a detoxification of the liver which in a way cleanses the whole body and makes us more active. Lemons are native to Assam, India but they had been transported to most parts of the world way back in the medieval times. They are used not only for culinary purposes but also as a medicinal agent. Many famous herbalists have commented on the medicinal uses of lemons.

Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

Lemons, as we know are citrus fruit, that is they are tart to taste and have high amounts of citric acid. There are many other citrus fruits and almost all of them produce an essential oil which has characteristic aroma of that fruit. Some of them are –

  • Orange oil
  • Bergamot oil
  • Grapefruit oil
  • Mandarin orange oil

These oils are so pleasing, aromatic and bear a refreshing aroma.



Color and Aroma
Lemon essential oil has a clear color. There is a greenish tinge to it, especially if it is made from green lemons. It is thin and light with a powerful citrus aroma. The smell lingers for a long time in the mind long after it is gone. It is very refreshing and energizing.

Properties

Lemon essential oil is very powerful at certain things, like driving away insects. It is a natural insecticide. It exhibits many more beneficial therapeutic properties.

  • Anti-rheumatic – relieves pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Anti-inflammatory – lemon oil is strongly anti-inflammatory.
  • Anti-oxidant – lemon essential oil is a moderately powerful antioxidant among oils.
  • Cicatrizant – heals wounds.
  • Anti-parasitic – aids the body in expelling worms.
  • Anti-tumor – inhibits the growth of tumors.
  • Expectorant – helps in expelling phlegm.
  • Diuretic – increases urine output.
  • Anti-bacterial – strongly active against specific bacteria, like P. acnes ( the acne bacteria )
  • Anti-fungal – helps in killing mold and common fungi.
  • Carminative – promotes release of intestinal gas.
  • Rubefacient – reduces redness on skin.
  • Anti-anemic – prevents anemia when taken internally.
  • Diaphoretic – increases sweating naturally.
  • Hypotensive – reduces blood pressure
  • Insecticide – drives away many insects and even kills many of them.
  • Anti-pyretic – reduces fever.
  • Anti-septic – prevents infections in wounds, cuts and scrapes.
  • Anti-sclerotic – relieves and prevents multiple sclerosis.
  • Stimulant – awakens the senses and makes a person get more information about the environment.
  • Antinociceptive – reduces the sensation of pain by blocking the path of pain along a nerve.
  • Cleanser – effective cleans any surface off dirt, grease and germs.
  • Phototoxic – makes skin sensitive to the sun. Leads to accelerated sun damage and faster tanning.
  • Anti-viral – It also helps the body in killing certain types of viruses.

Uses and Health Benefits

Lemon essential oil is used to improve health and for many tasks at home. These are the many ways in which one can utilize a vial of lemon essential oil.

Lemon oil for acne

Lemon essential oil kills the Propionibacterium Acnes which is believed to the bacteria that causes acne [1]. It resides in the pores of our skin and in the oil glands. Lemon oil can be applied to the skin in order to kill these bacteria. When their numbers start to lower, there is much lesser inflammation in the oil secreting glands. This eventually reduces the chances of a skin pore turning into a red, swollen inflamed pimple.
How to apply lemon oil for acne ?

  • Ingredients
    Lemon essential oil
    Carrier Oil ( Jojoba oil only )
  • Directions / How to use
    Take 10 ml of jojoba oil, organic and cold pressed. Add 4 – 5 drops of lemon oil. The combination readily smells like a hundred lemons. Mix it well. Now, massage this oil on acne that is active or dormant. Make sure to cover the whole area, and not just the pimples because acne bacteria could be residing anywhere in that region. So, if you have acne on your back, that means the massage should be done on the entire back which takes up lot more oil.
    The oil may sting. That’s because lemon oil is pungent and antiseptic. If it interacts with fresh blood from a pimple, there would be sharp, stinging pain. However, it is generally harmless as lemon oil is only trying to protect the blood from getting infected while it has come to the surface.
    Apply the oil only at night, never during the day. Next morning, wash the face and apply sunscreen or sunblock. This is required because lemon oil would have made the skin photosensitive.

Lemon oil for skin

One can also incorporate lemon oil in regular skin care. Since it is an essential oil, it is essential that it is added in small amounts to base oil. To use lemon oil for skin massage, dilute it in this manner.

Take 4 oz oil bottle, about 100 ml or so. Add 15 drops of lemon essential oil, and other oils that blend well with lemon oil, like lavender, orange and bergamot. For carrier oils, there is a large set of options. Visit massage oils to know more about base oils and carrier oils.

Health benefits of a massage using lemon oil.



  • It cleanses the skin brilliantly. Lemon oil is one of the best natural skin cleansers out there. It removes left over make up, dirt, dead skin cells and toxins that could not penetrate into the skin. One can observe a visibly clearer skin which is clean and devoid of excess oil.
  • It kills many bacteria on the skin – Lemon essential oil has a highly acidic pH. Most bacteria cannot survive in such a highly acidic environment. Even when only a few drops of lemon oil are added, it is still acidic. This also prevents infection by many strains of bacteria, as they are killed as soon as they contact such a highly acidic surface.
  • Lemon oil also acts as a skin lightening agent[2]. It lightens dark spots caused by sun and even blemishes. This effect may be useful, or not useful, depending on the need.
  • Prevents insect bites – Applying lemon oil on the skin prevents it from various kinds of insect bites. This is really helpful when trekking in the woods. Out in the forest or wilderness. there are variety of dangerous insect species that we normally do not encounter at homes. Some of these insects, or parasites can burrow into our bodies and start living inside. Examples are mango fly, mites that cause scabies and many more.
  • Achieve radiant skin – Lemon oil also adds a lustre to skin when applied with a base oil. It looks glossy and bright.

Get rid of toenail fungus

Lemon oil effectively gets rid of toenail fungus. Take a pan of water and boil some water in it. When it is warm enough to bear for the skin, add about 20 drops of lemon essential oil. Stir the water and then immerse your feet in it. This feels relaxing and soothing for the feet, kind of like foot spa.

Lemon oil gargle for dental health

Lemon oil is excellent for getting rid of harmful bacteria in the mouth. This effectively prevents teeth from cavities and damage caused by bacteria and minute worms. Moreover, it freshens up your mouth by getting rid of foul odor. By the way, who wouldn’t want to smell like a citrus ?
Pour 5 – 6 drops of lemon oil in 1 glass water. Keep it warm. Now gargle with this water. Let the water reach deep towards the throat and the tonsils as well.

Lemon oil for Hair

Lemon oil is excellent for getting rid of dandruff, just like lemons are. It is a cleansing agent and can be used in herbal washes, shampoos and conditioners. A simple way to get rid of dandruff is to add 4 – 6 drop of lemon oil in about 300 ml water. Wash the scalp with it. Use more water if needed, but use lemon oil in the given ratio. After the wash, comb hair after putting some hair oil. One would notice lots of dandruff coming out if there was any before the wash.

Lemon oil can combat fungal scalp infections. Add a few drops of lemon oil to any good oil, like olive oil or castor oil. Warm this oil and apply on the scalp as a hot oil treatment. Cover head with a shower cap and let the oil seep in for about 4 hours. Then wash the hair with alternate warm and cold water to get rid of the thick carrier oils. This effectively kills fungi proliferating on the scalp. Do this treatment once every week if you have exposed scalp which allows fungi to take hold. This treatment also kills head lice.
Lemon oil also removes hair color very well, and that too naturally.

Applications in Aromatherapy

Lemon oil, and other citrus oils have a pleasing and refreshing aroma. This aroma can be utilized to relieve the symptoms of many conditions.

  • Relieves anxiety – The aroma of lemons is quite relieving. It provides relief from anxiety.
  • Boosts concentration – Smelling lemon oil can help one stay alert and active. It is thus a counter against fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Alleviates sore throat – Being present in a room with aroma of lemon oil provides significant relief from sore throat. This is because lemon oil contains many VOCs ( volatile organic compounds ) that reach our threat and help the body in killing viruses or bacteria that cause sore throat. In most cases, it is because of a virus which leads to so much inflammation that your throat starts to hurt.

In many places, like in Japan, lemon oil is diffused into offices using vaporizers to boost alertness of all the employees, especially in high risk and error prone work environments.

Lemon oil for Respiratory Distress

Lemon essential oil is helpful in relieving breathing difficulties. It relieves asthma, coughing in bronchitis, pneumonia, sleep apnea and COPD. The patient starts feeling better as soon as lemon oil is diffuse inside the room using an oil burner, diffuser or vaporizer.
Lemon oil contains limonene, which has been identified to relieve asthmatic symptoms. [3] But, one should consult a doctor first, as there are a few cases in which limonene has aggravated asthmatic symptoms. So, it definitely doesn’t work for everyone.

Relieving arthritic pain

Lemon oil reduces the pain of arthritis. It can be taken in two ways. One can drink lemon oil by adding 2 – 3 drops of oil in a glass of water, or a tasty juice. Another way to use lemon oil is to use a pain relief oil pack. Take about 1 oz of a carrier oil ( preferably castor oil as it is good for joint pain ). Then add 6 – 8 drops of lemon oil. Mix well and then apply this oil all around the painful joint in copious amounts. Cover the joint with a cotton cloth soaked in castor oil so that the oil you applied on skin does not seep into the cloth. As time passes by, the oil slowly gets absorbed into skin right above the joint. This provides relief from inflammation on the skin, swelling and redness. Lemon oil is an anti-inflammatory and rubefacient, so one should be able to notice significant reduction in redness on the painful joint. Oil packs can be great for arthritis pain relief.

Get rid of Cellulite

Lemon oil is helpful in getting rid of cellulite. One can use this excellent cellulite treatment which is completely natural and home based.

  • Ingredients
    Lemon essential oil
    Coffee grounds
    Olive oil
  • Directions / How to use
    Take a bowl of coffee grounds. Add 2 tablespoon olive oil and about 10 drops of lemon oil. Mix them together. Now massage this on cellulite prone skin. The key is to massage firmly into the skin and not applying much shear. The skin would appear a little inflamed, but this is what stimulates the regeneration of connective tissue that makes up our skin. The main ingredient is ground coffee. Lemon oil serves to increase blood flow to the region and penetrate into the skin. Olive oil, as usual is good for general skin care.

Uses of lemon essential oil around the house

Besides its health benefits, lemon oil is also great for the upkeep of a house. It is an aid in the kitchen. These are some of its uses.

  • Eliminate bad odor anywhere – Foul odor may sneak into the house occasionally. Many times it happens that we are lazy and we forget to wash our juicer, blender or kitchen utensils. Food products soil quickly and produce foul odor. This can be eliminated by placing a cotton ball with 2 – 3 drops lemon oil in that area. If foul smell has overtaken your house, use a vaporizer to spread lemon oil all over.
  • Cleanse greasy hands and items – Grease is disgusting. If you have been working on a mechanical device which has lubrication, chances are that your hands get soiled in grease. It is difficult to wash away even with soap. Use lemon oil to get rid of grease. Add 8 – 10 drops of lemon oil in warm water in a mug. Put your hands in this solution. Keep the hands in it and then use soap. The grease now comes off much easily. If it is still sticking to the skin, then there is a workaround. Take a cotton ball and dip it in olive oil. Add 3 – 4 drops lemon oil over it and then rub your hands with this cotton. Grease should now dissolve away.
    If there is grease on a machine part or kitchen utensil, get your regular scrubber. Add few drops of lemon oil on the scrubber and rub the utensil firmly. This is powerful enough to cleanse away greasy substances.
  • Sanitize your house – Lemon oil kills many pathogens. it can be used in regular household cleaning product to add more antiseptic power to it. Add 4 – 5 drops to a bottle of cleaner and wash your kitchen counter tops, tables, desks, movables, and any other item. Keep it away from things that are inflammable, as lemon oil can inflame in presence of heat.
  • Keep moths and insects out of the closet – take ping pong balls. Coat them in lemon oil and place in the closet and other places where insects may come, like in the windows and over drains. Insects don’t like citrus smell, so they stay away. One of the best natural insect repellents is citronella oil, which has a lemon like scent.Lemon oil sprayed on wood keeps insects away and prolongs the life of wooden furniture.

It is not possible to make lemon essential oil at home but one can make a lemon infused oil. This is much different than the essential oil. An infusion is prepared by peeling off many lemons and letting the peels sit in a carrier oil ( like olive ) for 1 day. One can use this oil for massage purposes.

History

Lemon oil is associated with the ancient Roman goddess of youth, Juventas. This goes to show that lemon essential oil had significance in the great Roman civilization.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

Lemon oil is generally non-toxic. However, some people may be sensitive to it and may develop contact dermatitis. It is a phototoxic. Thus, it can lead to sunburns and heat rashes very quickly. So, one should never step out in the sun after applying lemon essential oil.

Lemon oil is one of the few essential oils that can be taken internally. However, make sure to put only 2 drops of lemon oil in a full glass of water, or juice. For internal use, one should take therapeutic grade essential oil only.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Lemon essential oil has a wide variety of micro-nutrients. These have their individual health benefits . Some of the prominent natural compounds in lemon essential oil are :

  • Limonene – It is a common flavoring agent and an insecticide. Limonene is believed to help with acid reflux and associated symptoms.
  • ϒ – Terpinene – It is a powerful antioxidant and is also used as a flavoring agent in perfumes and certain food products, like confectionery. Gamma terpinene is found in most citrus fruit essential oils.
  • β – Pinene – It is a really powerful volatile compound with a strong turpentine odour. It has been found to possess cytotoxic acitivity [5], anti-inflammatory power and even anti-fungal activity against candida fungus.

Complete Nutritional Value of Lemon essential oil

Nutrient Percentage
Limonene 59.10
γ – Terpinene 9.66
β – Pinene 5.20
p-Cymene 3.29
Geranial 2.11
cis-Thujopsene 2.38
β – Bisabolene 3.61
α – Pinene 0.62
Sabinene 0.94

Source:  6

Important chemical properties of lemon essential oil.

Nutrient Percentage Property
Density 0.834 g/ml light, low in density
Storage temperature 5 ° C Refrigeration at all times
Comedogenicity Rated from 0 to 5
ORAC 6125 Trolox Moderate antioxidant

Source : 7

Lemon essential oil, being a citrus oil has a really refreshing aroma, and is great for us and the pets at home or at work too.

Buying and Storage

Where to buy lemon essential oil from is a difficult one. Lemon essential oil contains limonene, which is prone to oxidation. Once limonene starts oxidizing, the therapeutic properties of this oil reduce. Therefore it is important to buy lemon essential oil from a producer that uses strict quality control performs GC-MS (Gas chromatography -mass spectroscopy ) analysis of the oil and most importantly, stores it at the ideal temperature. Once bought, lemon oil should be kept below 5 degrees Celsius to ensure quality as the original pure lemon oil.

References

1. Activities of Ten Essential Oils towards Propionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 Cancer Cells. Yuangang Zu et.al.Molecules 2010.
2. Tyrosinase Inhibitory Activity of Citrus Essential Oils. Matsuura et.al.J. Agric. Food Chem., 2006
3. Limonene inhalation reduces allergic airway inflammation in Dermatophagoides farinae-treated mice.Hirota R et.al.Inhal Toxicol 2012.
4. A study of the phototoxicity of lemon oil.Naganuma M. et.al.PubMed.
5. Biological activity of the essential oil of Myrcianthes sp. nov.Setzer et.al. Planta Med.
6. Chemical composition of commercial citrus fruit essential oils and evaluation of their antimicrobial activity acting alone or in combined processes. Laura Espina et.al.Food Control.
7. Yield and chemical composition of Citrus essential oils as affected by drying pretreatment of peels. Kamal et.al.International Food Research Journal 18(4 )1

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