The lemon is a synonym for health. Besides the many lemon health benefits, the fruit makes the saliva glands increase production, making our mouths water. James Cook, the famous 18th-century seaman who discovered Hawaii and New Zealand, made his sailors take some lemons with them in their baggage. In his time, vitamins had not been discovered; however, his acute seaman instinct made him guess that there may be a secret for healing scurvy of his crew in the lemon.
Captain Cook was right. His sailors endured the harshness of those oceanic journeys with more strength than any other crew, which fell victim to scurvy. That sea dog discovered fantastic places and dominated the oceans thanks to this little fruit. The British Navy also owes her success to the many lemon health benefits.
In 1928, the Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi isolated ascorbic acid; the substance citrus owes their anti-scurvy effects, which was named vitamin C. This discovery was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1937. Over the last decades, many other virtues and medicinal lemon health benefits have been discovered beside the anti-scurvy one. However, this article will only mention those having a scientific base, which has been experimentally proven.
Lemon Health Benefits and Healing Properties
The LEAVES of the lemon tree are rich in an aromatic essence formed by D-limonene, l-linalool, and other terpenic hydrocarbons, in lesser proportions. They are soothing and antispasmodic, and their use is recommended for those suffering from nervousness, insomnia, palpitations, migraine, or asthma. Being also sudorific, they also have a vermifuge effect (to expel parasites from the intestine).
The fruit’s RIND contains 0.5% essential oil, whose main component is d-limonene, besides coumarins and flavonoids. It has refreshing properties for the digestive system, and it is recommended for those suffering from lack of appetite, heavy digestion, and poor functioning of the stomach. Like the leaves, it is also vermifuge and sudorific, and it is successfully used to decrease fever.
The LEMON JUICE contains vitamin B1, B2, and C (50 mg per 100 g), mineral salts (especially those of potassium), trace elements, sugars, mucilages, organic acids (citric, malic, acetic, and formic), and flavonoids (hesperidin). It is said to have many effects; however, this article will mention those which have been scientifically proven.
- Antiscorbutic. Vitamin C is the essential property responsible for the many lemon health benefits. Though there are vegetables with much higher concentrations of vitamin C, such as the brier hip and the red currant, the anti-scurvy effect of the lemon is powerful because of its balanced composition of organic acids and mineral salts.
Scurvy or scorbutus is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This vitamin is only found in fresh vegetables. Though at present, any severe deficiency of vitamin C is quite rare, it is not unusual to find a minor case among those who follow unbalanced diets or whose diets are poor in vegetables and fresh fruits.
- Invigorating. Because of its content of vitamins, mineral salts, and acids, the lemon stimulates the activity of the digestive organs and has a revitalizing effect on the whole body. It suits people suffering from dyspepsia, and even though it may seem a contradiction in terms, it also suits persons suffering from stomach acidity. Despite its acid flavor, the lemon behaves chemically as a buffer, and it can neutralize both the excess of alkalis and acids.
In the case of an upset stomach or indigestion, a popular remedy is to administer the juice of a lemon dissolved into half a glass of water with a teaspoonful of sodium bicarbonate.
- Alkalinizant and depurative. The lemon produces an alkalization of the whole body, which suits those people with protein or meat-rich diets, which produce an excess of acid waste, such as uric acid. Turning the pH (the degree of acidity or alkalinity) towards alkalinity in the blood and the urine, the dissolution and the elimination of uric sediments of joints and kidneys are eased. Lemon juice is highly recommended for those suffering from kidney stones, gout, and arthritis, as well as for all those who want to purify their blood and improve their health.
- Kidney stones dissolving. Citrates that lemon juice contains, especially potassium citrate, prevent the formation of kidney stones and ease their dissolution. This has been proven in scientific experiments, both with urate stones and oxalate stones (the most frequent types).
This property of citrates, combined with the aforementioned alkalinizing action, makes lemon juice a proper medicine for kidney ailments.
- Venotonic and capillary protecting. Due to its hesperidin content and a diosmin and other flavonoids, like vitamin P, the lemon reinforces the capillary vessels’ stability and improves venous blood flow. It is helpful in cases of swollen legs, edema, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, thrombosis, and emboli. It is also recommended for people who suffer from high blood pressure.
- Antiseptic. Directly applied on the tonsils or into the inside of the nose utilizing a soaked cotton cloth, the lemon juice makes diphtheria bacilli disappear from the people carrying such micro-organisms. This fact has been personally proven by Dr. Ernst Schneider and goes following other experiences that demonstrate the antibacterial power of lemon. For example, the cholera epidemic in Venezuela in 1855 was resolved through the massive consumption of lemons by the population.
Locally applied, lemon juice is helpful against tonsilitis (sore throat) and pharyngitis and is equally good as an antiseptic for any skin ulceration and wounds.
- Cosmetic. Lemon juice soothes and hydrates the skin, strengthens weak nails, and gives brightness to the hair, besides diminishing dandruff.
It is significant to note that soft drinks that are so-called “lemonades” or that state they are “made of lime” lack medicinal properties and are toxic for health due to their content of carbonic gas, artificial colorings, and aromatizers, and sugar, or other flavors. The best way to take advantage of the many lemon health benefits, lime and other citric juice is to consume them just after being squeezed from the fruit.
Lemon Tree Scientific Facts
- Scientific synonyms: Citrus Limonum Risso, Citrus medica var. Limon L.
- French: Citronnier.
- Spanish: Limonero.
- Environment: Native to Central Asia, the South of China, and regions near the Himalayas, still growing wild. At present, its farming is widespread throughout warm areas worldwide.
- Description: Medium-sized tree of the Rutaceae family, with evergreen leaves with a spine in their base. The rind of its fruits consists of two layers. The essence-producing glands are located in the external one, tiny and yellow-colored, called flavedo. The internal one, known as albedo, is white and thicker.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The leaves and the fruits, including their rind.
How to Take Advantage of Lemon Health Benefits
- Infusion of 30 g of leaves per liter of water. Drink three or four cups a day, sweetened with honey.
- Infusion of rind. Mash the rind of a lemon per each glass of water, and then infuse for some minutes. Drink three cups daily, sweetened with honey.
- Essence. The dose goes from three to ten drops three times a day.
- Lemon juice. It should be drunk, dissolved into water, sweetened with honey, and through a straw, thus having minimum contact with teeth (it attacks the dental enamel). For most applications, three lemons a day are enough.
- Gargles and topical. Against throat afflictions, in gargles with pure, hot lemon juice and honey. It can also be applied employing a cotton cloth soaked in juice, softly touching the tonsils or the irritated area.
- Antiseptic and cosmetic. As a wound disinfectant and as a cosmetic, it is applied dissolved in some water.
A lemon cure must be performed under medical supervision because it is an actual medical treatment. This cure is formally contraindicated for those people suffering from kidney insufficiency, anemia, bone decalcification, and for children and older adults. It is performed according to this pattern. The first day the juice of a lemon dissolved into water is drunk half an hour before breakfast. According to other people, each day (or every other day), add one more lemon until reaching seven or nine daily lemons. Then, reduce the dosage according to the same rhythm until having only one lemon. Stop for a week and perform again if needed. It renders good results in cases of gout, arthritis, and kidney stones.
Whole Lemon Juice Recipe
After washing two good lemons, cut them into small pieces, and put them into a blender with some water. Once well ground, add four spoonfuls of honey, and water until reaching two liters. The liquid must be strained and discretionally drunk during the entire day. With this whole lemon juice, including both flesh and peel, a notable febrifuge effect is achieved, especially in the case of colds or influenza.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 265, 266, 267. Print. [Lemon health benefits]