Have you ever used lemon as a natural disinfectant? This simple yellow fruit is often used as a natural cleaning agent in the home or to add a fresh flavor to water, yet lemon essential oil boasts more than just disinfectant and flavoring properties.
This fresh, citrusy essential oil can be used topically, aromatically, and internally for a wide variety of health benefits. It boosts immune system function, alleviates stress, keeps the hair strong and healthy, and treats skin conditions.
Without a doubt, lemon has a lot of health benefits. Since it can be used to benefit both you and your home, this is one essential oil that you should always have on hand.
The History of Lemon
Lemons have a bit of a muddy history. Some taxonomic systems have acknowledged Citrus limon as its own species, although more recent studies have suggested that the lemon is actually a hybrid of a pomelo, citron, and mandarin. 1
Citrus limon is a small evergreen tree native to Asia. It is believed that this tree wasn’t introduced to Europe until around 200 AD, and didn’t make it to the Americas until 1493 when it was introduced as seeds by Christopher Columbus. 2
Lemons were originally cultivated as an ornamental plant, although people soon began to see the medicinal properties of this unassuming fruit. Lemons are full of antioxidants and Vitamin C. Although limes were more widely available, lemons were also used to cure scurvy among explorers. 3
Lemons continued to be used both ornamentally and medicinally until around 1800 when they began to be grown in Florida. It was here that they began to be used in both cooking. 4 Today, lemon essential oil is used to provide a range of benefits, ranging from improving health to reducing odors to polishing wood.
Lemon essential oil is extracted from lemon peels through the method of cold compression. The resulting oil has a strong, fresh citrus scent and is yellow-green in color.
Lemon essential oil is known for its antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-anemic, anti-rheumatic, anti-sclerotic, carminative, diuretic, insecticidal, tonic, and bactericidal properties. These result from a combination of chemical components including:
- Trans-a-bergamotene 5
Common Uses for Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil can be used for a wide variety of conditions, from relieving nausea to reducing bad breath. Let’s take a look at the benefits this potent fruit provides.
Using lemon essential oil is a great way to relieve nausea, especially related to pregnancy and morning sickness.
A study conducted in 2014 investigated the effects of lemon essential oil on nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. One group inhaled the lemon oil as soon as they felt nauseous, and the other group inhaled a placebo. The study found that there was a significant difference between the two groups, with the group that inhaled the lemon essential oil reporting significantly lower levels of nausea. 6
Since lemon essential oil is carminative, it can reduce cramps, heartburn, indigestion and an upset stomach. If you’re feeling a bit nauseous, simply smell the uplifting fragrance of lemon. You can smell it directly from the bottle, diffuse throughout the home, or use it in a personal essential oil diffuser.
Treats Skin Conditions
Lemon essential oil’s antimicrobial properties make it an ideal essential oil for treating a range of skin conditions. It is also an astringent, which helps cleanse the skin while shrinking pores. Additionally, lemon is particularly good for oily skin since it helps control the production of sebum and can reduce breakouts. 3
To cleanse the skin and reduce acne, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to an unscented cleanser. Alternatively, mix water, witch hazel, and lemon essential oil for a natural astringent that will cleanse and tone the skin. To treat other skin conditions, mix lemon essential oil with a carrier oil and apply directly to the affected area. For a general skin cleanser, add a mixture of lemon essential oil and Epsom salt to a warm bath.
Reduces Stress and Improves Concentration
A 2008 study investigated the effects of lavender and lemon essential oils on stress. Fifty-six men and women were exposed to a stressor and then were exposed to lemon, lavender, or water (a no-odor control variable). Some of these participants were told what effects to expect and some were not. The results of the study showed that lemon essential oil improved mood and reduced stress, regardless of whether the participants were expecting this outcome or not. The mood-enhancing effects of lemon essential oil were much higher than from either lavender or water. 8
If you’re feeling a bit down or lethargic and need a quick pick-me-up, smell lemon essential oil directly from the bottle or diffuse it throughout the home. You can also get these benefits on-the-go with a personal aromatherapy diffuser.
Boosts Immune System Function
The antibacterial and antiviral properties of lemon essential oil help boost the immune system and fight off harmful pathogens. This oil also supports the lymphatic system, which helps the body remove toxins and waste. 9 Lemon essential oil can also fight viruses in the home. Diffusing this oil cleanses the air and reduces your chances of getting sick.
To give your immune system a boost, diffuse this oil throughout the home, add a drop to a glass of water, or add a drop to a tablespoon of honey and ingest once daily.
Keeps Hair Healthy
Using lemon essential oil in your hair care routine can help keep the hair strong, healthy, and shiny. Additionally, lemon essential oil helps regulate sebum production in the scalp, preventing oily or stringy hair. 3
For a cleansing treatment, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to your shampoo before washing. Alternatively, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to a glass of warm water and pour over your hair after washing for a cleansing rinse.
Improves Respiratory Function
Diffusing lemon essential oil can help reduce symptoms of respiratory conditions such as cold, cough, bronchitis, and congestion. It is especially effective for those suffering from allergies or asthma. 9
If you’re suffering from congestion, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head with a towel, and breathe in the vapors for five minutes.
For a cough or itchy throat, add a drop of lemon essential oil to a tablespoon of honey, or mix a tea with a drop of lemon essential oil, honey, and hot water.
Supports Digestive System
Just as lemon essential oil can help reduce symptoms of nausea and other stomach problems, it can also to reduce gas and alleviate constipation. 9
To maintain general digestive health, add a drop of lemon essential oil to a glass of water. You can also mix a few drops of lemon essential oil with a carrier oil and gently massage onto the stomach.
Boosts Oral Health
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of lemon essential oil help treat a wide variety of oral conditions, including ulcers, oral thrush, bad breath, and gum disease. 9
To help reduce the symptoms of these conditions, use a mixture of warm water and lemon essential oil as a gargle after brushing your teeth.
Alternative Uses for Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil isn't only beneficial for the body: it can also be used to clean, polish, and disinfect throughout the home.
This oil is an ideal natural disinfectant. Its antimicrobial properties make it the perfect essential oil to cleanse surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, and shower. For a quick and easy disinfectant, mix lemon essential oil, white vinegar, and water in a spray bottle.
Acts as a Natural Insecticide
Lemon essential oil is a natural insecticide. If you are having problems with ants in your home or pests in your garden, use this oil as a natural alternative to pesticides.
Polishes Wood and Stainless Steel
For a quick and easy way to polish wood furniture, mix a couple of drops of lemon essential oil and olive oil on a cloth and gently polish the wood for a beautiful shine. You can also add a few drops of lemon essential oil to a cloth to wipe down stainless steel.
Diffusing lemon essential oil throughout the home can remove of odors caused by smoking, pets or cooking. It leaves the home smelling fresh and clean while increasing energy levels and improving mood.
If you’ve forgotten a pile of damp laundry in the washing machine, it can develop a musky smell. Instead of washing it again, simply add a few drops of lemon essential oil and throw it in the dryer. The oil will get rid of the smell.
Lemon essential oil is especially effective at cutting through grease. Mix lemon essential oil with a Castille soap for a chemical-free dish wash.
Flavors Food and Water
Add a drop of lemon essential oil to a glass of water for a refreshing beverage. You can also use lemon essential oil in citrus desserts or main courses. Spraying freshly-cut fruit with lemon essential oil can also keep the fruit fresh until you’re ready to serve it. 10
Safety and Precautions
Lemon essential oil is safe for topical, aromatic, and internal use. However, always be sure to purchase 100 percent therapeutic grade essential oil.
Since lemon essential oil is phototoxic, exercise caution when going out in the sun. It is recommended to avoid direct sun exposure for at least 12 hours after using lemon essential oil topically.
This oil can irritate sensitive skin, so it’s important to conduct a patch skin test before using on larger areas of the body. Dilute this essential oils with a carrier oil before applying topically.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before use. Additionally, if you are attempting to treat a chronic medical condition with this oil, always consult with a medical professional.
If stored correctly in a cool, dark place, lemon essential oil will last for one to two years. Unfortunately, citrus oils are prone to oxidation. Light, heat, and oxygen can all negatively affect the oil, so it’s important to take note of the aroma and how it affects your skin to determine whether or not it has oxidized. If you suspect it has, discontinue use immediately.
Fortunately, while oxidized oils shouldn’t be used for internal, aromatic, or topical use, you can still use them for household cleaning purposes. Just be sure to wear gloves.
As you can see, lemon essential oil is incredibly versatile. Whether you’re using it internally to improve immune system function, aromatically to boost energy and mood, topically to treat skin conditions, or in your home to disinfect surfaces, there are uses for this oil that can benefit everyone.