The lemon is considered to be the most valuable of all fruits for preserving health. It is used widely in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine system of India. It is revered for its cleansing properties. When following an Ayurvedic lifestyle, the recommendation is to begin the day with a glass of lemon water. This is believed to stimulate digestion and purify the body. Lemon is also used to stimulate the nervous system and immune system. Its antimicrobial properties are used to fight viruses, infectious disease, ear infections and cellulitis. Lemon oil topically manages oily skin.
Uses in Chinese Medicine
Lemon is considered a cooling food in traditional Chinese medicine, harmonizing the stomach and supporting digestion. Although lemon is strongly acidic as a fruit, it is considered alkalinizing to the body, which is extremely valuable to a society that eats a meat-rich diet. Lemon is believed to replenish fluids, including depleted body fluids and unquenched thirst. As in Ayurvedic medicine, it is considered cleansing to the liver, kidneys, blood, mouth and urinary tract.
Hesperidin, a bioflavonoid found in the oil of the lemon peel, has been found to help improve the cognitive deficits that happen in Alzheimers disease. Specifically, aluminum chloride causes oxidative stress in the brain, affecting memory and learning. Hesperidin, when given to animals at the same time as aluminum chloride, prevented the cognitive deficits from happening. Lemon peel essential oils used in a regimen of aromatherapy were shown to be beneficial for improving cognitive function in Alzheimers disease in humans as well.
Stress And Anxiety
Lemon essential oils helped lower the stress hormone cortisol in a trial done with rats. Smelling lemon essential oils can raise the heart rate and improve mental and physical performance on tests. Lemon scent improves the overall sense of well-being. People exposed to the scent of lemon reported fewer physical symptoms than they did when smelling something unpleasant. People who smelled lemon essential oils saw a bigger improvement in their mood than people who were exposed to the scent of lavender, which was neutral in its effect.
A trial of 84 premenopausal women assigned to either make no changes, use very low-calorie diet with a placebo drink or a very low-calorie diet supplemented with lemon juice for seven days showed promising results for the benefits of lemon juice. In addition to weight loss, which occurred in the lemon and placebo groups, the lemon group saw a reduction in inflammation markers and no loss of important blood markers hemoglobin or hematocrit.
An even stronger effect may be seen when using the polyphenols found in the peel. A study in obese mice on the ability of these polyphenols to break down adipose showed that weight gain was moderated when the mice took hesperidin from lemon peels at the same time as the fatty food. More clinical trials are needed to see if this effect is true for humans as well.
Cancer Prevention And Treatment
Anti-oxidants have long been recognized for their effect on cancer, but promising research is being done into the effect of specific components of the lemon peel. One of the flavonoids in lemon, eriocitrin, has been shown to cause apoptosis, or cell death, in acute myelomonocytic leukemia cells. Limonene is being explored for its effect on breast cancer. It has been shown that this abundant component concentrates well in breast tissue and may play a role in slowing the progression of breast tumors. As complementary care, when given in conjunction with chemotherapy, polyphenols from lemon extracts protected organs from the toxic effects of the chemotherapy.
Oil extracted from the peel of lemons contains several compounds, including 8-geranyloxypsolaren, 5-geranyloxypsolaren and 5-geranyloxy-7-methoxycoumarin that are anti-microbial. These compounds, which are abundant in lemon peel essential oil, kill bacteria such asstreptococcus mutans,which cause cavities and periodontitis.
The anti-microbial action and positive impact on mood lend to the popularity of lemon in cleaning products. Lemon is astringing, which means that it tightens tissue. This helps reduce the pain of a swollen throat when lemon is drunk in warm water.
More Lemon Oil Facts
Cold-pressed lemon essential oils may be bright green to yellow and should smell strongly like lemons. If they have been distilled they will be clear and may be thinner, as all waxes and residues will have been removed in processing.
Do not use lemon oil on the skin of kids if they will be in the sun. It can raise their risk for sunburn or skin cancer. Although other members of the citrus family are common allergens, lemon usually is not, but always watch for irritation when using essential oils on the skin. Allergies can develop over time. Never give a child any essential oil internally. A drop of essential oil diluted in a carrier oil applied to the feet is sufficient to get the benefits for a child.
You can cook with lemon oil. Lemon extract is a popular ingredient in baking recipes, and the nutrient-rich peel is frequently grated into a zest in cooking. Lemon oil is popular in salad dressing and can be made at home for optimal freshness. The medicinal properties and scent of the lemon will break down with heat.
Lemon oil has a short shelf life. It should be stored a dark bottle, in a cool dark place since light and heat will oxidize it, but even under those conditions, it only lasts about eight to 10 months. Watch for clouding or an unpleasant smell as signs it has spoiled.
Lemon oil is very drying, so it not recommended for use on eczema or other dry skin conditions. Because of this, it is great for treating oily skin, but remember that lemon oil on the skin in the sun is photosensitizing, possibly increasing your risk of a sunburn, and photocarcinogenic, potentially increasing the risk of skin cancer. This will not occur if a soap scented with lemon oils is used, as the soap breaks down the oil and does not leave the furocoumarins on the skin. Use caution with cold-pressed lemon oils in products used on sun-exposed skin.
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