Referred to as ‘Golden Apple’ in the Indian subcontinent, Lemon is a universal remedy for many health disorders and is often called as a panacea for its ability to heal the mind and the body in manifold ways. The essential oil of Lemon is cold pressed from the external rind or peel of the Lemon fruits.
Known as Nimbuka, Jambira and Dantashata in Ayurveda, Lemon is a popular Ayurvedic remedy that is used in medicine, food and also in the process of purification. It is used for stimulating the nervous system, improve concentration power, enhance immunity, purify blood and support digestion.
Lemon and its essential oil is a popular ingredient of many Ayurvedic weight loss remedies and lemon juice taken with lukewarm water in empty stomach in the morning is said to reduce fat deposits and eliminate toxins from the body.
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Historical importance of Lemon and its essential oil:
The real origin of Lemon lies as a mystery and it is said that Lemon is indigenous to India, Myanmar and China. The first historical mark of Lemon was in 90 BC where it was used to shower a high priest in a festival of Jews in Jerusalem though certain sources say that Lemon has been used since 800 BC.
It was introduced to Europe in the 1st century AD during the Roman reign and slowly spread to other parts of the world like Persia, Egypt and Iraq. It is also said that Lemon was grown as an ornamental plant in the primordial Islamic gardens.
Affluent Victorians grew Lemon trees in their gardens as a symbol of high regard and for garlanding their estates with the naturally refreshing aroma of citrus trees. Serving Lemon wedges along with tea during their tea dances in the afternoon was a popular custom in their tradition.
It was Christopher Columbus who introduced Lemon to America by bringing Lemon seeds to the Island of Haiti during his voyages in 1493. Botanically known as Citrus limon, Lemon is a hybrid of citron and sour orange.
The most notable use of Lemon in the history was its use as a promising protection against scurvy by sailors all over the world. This was endorsed by James Lind, the celebrated Naval Surgeon in his book ‘Treatise on Scurvy’.
Chemical components or Gas Chromatography Report of Lemon essential oil:
According to the Gas chromatography report, Lemon oil constitutes of 5 major chemical components that contribute to its fresh citrusy fragrance, remedial values and distinct quality. Lemon oil is enriched with about 67.6 percent of Limonene constituent.
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The table below on the Gas Chromatography report talks about the primary chemical constituents and its role in granting the therapeutic values and other attributes to Lemon essential oil.
Therapeutic properties of Lemon essential oil:
The remedial properties of Lemon essential oil are antiviral, antibacterial, immune stimulant, digestive, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, calming, diuretic, expectorant, astringent, anti-anemic, detoxifying, antioxidant, tonic and antidepressant.
Ayurvedic health benefits of Lemon essential oil:
Ayurvedic healing dates back to more than 5000 years and it is the oldest of all medicinal systems on earth. Lemon has been an important part of Ayurvedic treatments in many forms. The top ways to start a refreshing Ayurvedic life begins with the use of Lemon in lukewarm water as this therapy is said to cleanse the system, clear impurities in the blood and energize the mind and the body.
Human being is a unique creation and Ayurveda adorns the beauty of an individual constitution that differentiates each and every individual with a unique physical and mental setup. This uniqueness is determined by the combination of the three biological energies known as doshas.
They are vata, pitta and kapha. Vata dosha is responsible for blood circulation, creative thinking, metabolic functions and the process of elimination. Pitta energy governs body temperature, digestive fire, leadership skills and perfection. Kapha dosha lies behind the movement of fluids in the body, love and affection and body mass.
Predominance of any one of these doshas determines character, personality and behavioral attributes. Dosha balance contributes to good health and imbalance of doshas indicates illness.
Ayurveda sticks to nature and trusts that natural remedies are the best ways of healing human beings as they are an incredible part of nature. Ayurvedic therapies are unique for every individual and are focused towards treating dosha imbalances.
Ayurvedic remedies are often aimed at treating the five senses of human body. They are the sense of sight, sense of smell, sense of taste, sense of touch and sense of sound. Lemon is by far the best Ayurvedic remedy that has the power to retreat and recharge the four vital senses of the human body.
Lemon and its essential oil is said to pacify kapha and vata energy and aggravate pitta dosha.
Let’s have a look at the Ayurvedic health benefits of Lemon essential oil in the order of the five senses of human beings.1. Sense of sight:
The very sight of Lemon gives energy, confidence and inner strength. This is because the bright yellow color of Lemon indicates brilliance, cheerfulness, brightness and sunshine. These are the symbols of potency and real power paving way for improvement in one’s health physically and mentally. Healing through the sense of sight is known as color therapy in Ayurveda.
This holistic healing methodology states that every color has various impacts on the physiological and psychological attributes of mankind. Yellow color of Lemon and its essential oil according to Ayurveda has the power to promote clarity of mind, grants motivation, enhances the energy level, augments communication and instills the power of winning. So the next time, when you are feeling down and depressed, just look at the ‘Golden apple’ (lemon) that has the power to mend your mind to peace and prosperity.
2. Sense of smell:
Aroma plays a vital role in uplifting the body and mind. By inhaling the aroma of Lemon essential oil, the therapeutic molecules in the oil reach the limbic system of the brain through the nasal passages, where limbic system is the body’s control center that controls feelings, emotions and the corresponding behaviors.
The citrusy, fresh, energizing and enlivening aroma of Lemon essential oil spreads positive energy, calms the mind, grants mental clarity, treats anxiety, fatigue, nervous tension, dizziness, improves concentration, instills hopefulness and assists in weight loss when 2 drops of this oil is added to aromatic lamps, diffuser, air freshener, vaporizer or burner.
A 2004 study published in Brain Research stated that Lemon essential oil may contain pain-relieving and anxiety-reducing properties. When used in steam inhalation, Lemon oil aids in opening blocked nasal passages and clear chest congestion. The revivifying fragrance of Lemon oil makes it a favorite flavor in household cleaners, disinfectants, soaps, shampoos and detergents.
3. Sense of taste:
The best way to take Lemon internally is to drink the fresh juice. Ayurvedic therapies like Chardi Nivarana and Kaphotlesha suggests drinking lemon juice during nausea, vomiting, excessive salivation, gastritis, heaviness in the stomach and sluggish bowel movements. This helps in eliminating the excess deposits of kapha in the stomach.
Lemon is also called as Amadoshahara where ama is the toxic substances in the body. Drinking lemon juice is a proven Ayurvedic remedy for eliminating ama, which is a result of indigestion and improper absorption of nutrients.
Drinking lemon juice mixed with warm water and honey in the morning in empty stomach is said to treat obesity by stimulating the bowel movements and burning the excess fat deposits in the body. Lime has diuretic properties and it helps in expelling the excess fluids in the body causing obesity through urine and sweat.
4. Sense of touch:
Ayurvedic massaging or Abhyanga is an important therapy in Ayurveda for healing numerous illnesses and for eliminating the toxic substances from the body. Abhyanga is the art of maneuvering the body with hands, legs, elbows and certain other massaging equipments. The success of an Ayurvedic massage therapy lies in choosing the right massaging technique along with right essential oils that suits your health condition and unique individual constitution.
Treating through the sense of touch means using essential oils and herbal medications on the skin as skin is the best organ through which the therapeutic properties of these natural remedies penetrate deeply into the bloodstream.
(i) As topical application:
Lemon oil is an excellent remedy for treating skin problems like acne, rough skin, dull skin, oily skin, wounds, pigmentation, cold sores, cellulites, warts, varicose veins and sun tan. The antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent, antiviral and soothing properties of this oil assist in rejuvenating and toning the skin naturally by improving blood circulation. Skin care specialist Lia Schorr says that using Lemon oil mixed with glycerin can assist in treating rough patches on the knee, feet, hands and elbows.
Blend 2 drops of Lemon oil with 15 drops of Jojoba oil and apply it topically on pimples, boils, pustules, blackheads and whiteheads. It helps in removing excess oil, eliminate impurities in the skin and clears acne on regular use. You can also apply this blend on cold sores, tanned skin, dull skin and rough skin.
(ii) As Ayurvedic massage oil: Gently massaging your abdomen with 3 drops of Lemon oil mixed with 20 to 25 drops of coconut can help in treating dysentery, intestinal parasites, gas, flatulence, nausea, food poisoning, stomach upset, acidity, cramps and heartburn.
Massaging your chest, throat, foot soles and back with this blend can assist in treating throat infections, tonsillitis, fever, flu, cough and cold. The disinfectant, antiviral and expectorant properties of Lemon oil aid in controlling the growth of viruses responsible for cold, arrests infections and helps expel phlegm and mucous deposits in the body. This is due to the kapha pacifying property of Lemon essential oil.
Gently massaging your scalp with 3 drops of Lemon oil blended with Almond oil can help in controlling dandruff, moisturize the scalp, and augment the strength, volume and shine of your hair with its tonic and stimulating properties.
(iii) As bath oil: 3 to 4 drops of Lemon essential oil added to warm bathing water helps in relaxing your muscles, alleviate stress, lessen depression, promote good sleep, induce peace of mind, wipe away negative feelings, enhance skin health, detoxify the body, cleanse the digestive system and treat respiratory ailments.
(iv) As cold or warm compress: Few drops of Lemon essential oil added to cold or warm compress can help treating acne scars, pain, inflammation, headache, fever, congestion and stomach ache.
5. Partnering with the sense of sound:
Healing through the sense of sound means listening to appeasing music and reciting mantras and slogans that would enrich one’s spiritual values. Add 2 drops of Lemon essential oil to your vaporizer, burner or diffuser during your meditation time or while practicing yoga with the background of soothing instrumental music. This is a simple and an effective remedy for staying refreshed, uplifted and re-energized throughout the day.
Inhaling the invigorating aroma of Lemon essential oil during prayers, chanting mantras or reciting holy books can augment your oneness with the Divine power and pacify your mind and aura simultaneously. Feeling down? Then it’s not a bad idea to listen to motivational tapes with the company of the magical Lemon aroma around you. Add 1 drop of Lemon essential oil to your hanky or wear it on your wrist and you’ll be amazed to see the energy flow from within along with the motivational speech.
Never use essential oils internally as pure essential oils are highly concentrated in nature. Dilute it in suitable carrier oils before using them externally. Do not go out in sun as soon as using Lemon oil because this oil has phototoxic effect just like other citrus essential oils and can harm your skin due to the exposure to ultra violet rays.
This article is for educational purpose only and is not intended to replace any expert advice or prescribed medicines. Consult your Ayurvedic practitioner before using the appropriate essential oils for your unique constitution and health condition.
The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) of Lemon oil is readily available for your enhanced safety and healthier usage.
Gas Chromatography Report of Lemon essential oil.
Lemon Essential Oil – Possible Skin Issues:
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Lemon essential oil is witnessed as one among the photosensitizing citrus oils that may cause burning sensation, irritation, hyperpigmentation (discoloration of the skin surface) and other changes due to its effect of stimulating the photosensitivity of the skin, when exposed to visible light from the sun up to 12 hours of use. The primary reason is the reaction of the photoactive chemical components that absorbs light and leads to toxicity via molecular alterations in the skin.
The chief chemical component accountable for the skin sensitizing and other dermal effects of Lemon oil is Limonene and few other furanocoumarins.
Certain studies (like the 1994 study on the ‘Occupation Contact Dermatitis from Citrus fruits’ and a 2006 study on ‘Skin Diseases in Workers at a Perfume factory’) on the adverse skin reactions of using the essential oil of Citrus limon reports few cases, including the incidence of allergic contact dermatitis with the use of Lemon rind oil in the workers of the perfume industry. Patch testing also witnessed certain allergic effects on using Lemon rind oil.
Research reveals that Lemon oil has furocoumarin derivatives like oxypeucedanin and bergapten; however the phototoxic effect of oxypeucedanin was just 1 quarter of that of bergapten. It is also stated that these components are the major cause of concern behind the phototoxicity of Lemon essential oil. This study also states that oxypeucedanin educes photo pigmentation on the skin of colored-guinea-pig prior to visible erythema.
It is also stated that the quantity of these 2 phototoxic components in Lemon oils from various countries differed by about a factor greater than 20 (bergapten, 4-87 ppm; oxypeucedanin, 26-728 ppm (parts per million), with a wavering ratio.
The safe dilution use level of Lemon oil, a potential phototoxic essential oil is 2%, which is about 12 drops per ounce of any carrier oils, according to the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). This applies only for products employed for dermal use to prevent phototoxicity and is not valid for wash-off items like shampoos, soaps and other bath products.
Lemon oil has ‘Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)’authorization by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). As per the European decree, essential oils containing furanocoumarins can be used provided the aggregate level of bergapten does not exceed 15 ppm in cosmetic products that are ready-to-use on the skin, which is prone to be exposed to direct sunlight sans wash-away items and 1 ppm in bronzing and sunscreen products.
On a lighter note, Furocoumarins are also used in remedial practices along with the long-wave ultraviolet light therapy for curing psoriasis, mycosis fungoides and vitiligo.
Reference Links Substantiating the Possible Skin Issues of Lemon Oil:
- A study of the phototoxicity of lemon oil by Naganuma M, Hirose S and Nakayama Y, Nakajima K and Someya T, published in the Archives of Dermatological Research and PubMed
- Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals By Robert Tisserand, Rodney Young
- Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics by Ikhlas A. Khan and Ehab A. Abourashed.
- Citrus limon, American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition by Zoe Gardner, Michael McGuffin
- Lemon oil side effects by WebMD
- Safety Information on Essential Oils by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
Thought for the day:
When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade.
– Dale Carnegie
- HEALING POWERS OF LEMON OIL (The Aromatherapy Professional: Healing with Essential Oils) by KG Stiles
- Lemon: 50 Plus Recipes for Skin Care, Hair Care, Home and Laundry Cleaning along with Lemonade, Vegan, Curd, Chicken, Cookies, Cakes and Desserts by Pamesh Y
- How to Use Lemon Essential Oil (Aromatherapy) by Miriam Kinai
- Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing by Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
- 35 Health Benefits of Lemon – Ayurveda Details by Dr JV Hebbar MD (Ayu) in Easy Ayurveda
- Lemon by Wikipedia
- Health Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil by Alternative Medicine, About.Com
- The Benefits of Lemon Oil on Skin by Livestrong.Com
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