Gut Health

Is Lemon Essential Oil the Best Antioxidant for Gut Health?

By Justin Fowler-Lindner

Lemon essential oil is one of the most useful essential oils for your health and home.

The refreshing scent of lemons is impossible to miss, but it’s much more than just a pleasant aroma.

Every whiff contains phytochemicals that possess antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Here are a few of the potential health benefits of lemon essential oil:

  • Detoxifies the organs
  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves nausea
  • Promotes skin health
  • Kills germs and bacteria

Use lemon oil to sanitize your home or use it as a natural remedy to invigorate your health.

Let’s take a closer look at everything this versatile essential oil has to offer:

What is Lemon Essential Oil?

Lemon, or Citrus limon, is a fruiting tree of the Rutaceae family.

Its yellow fruit is high in citric acid and has a tart taste.

Lemon essential oil is made from the peel of the fruit, which contains the highest concentration of nutrients, including polyphenols, terpenes, tannins, and fat-soluble phytochemicals.

A genomic study determined that lemon trees are a cross between bitter orange and citron.

History of Lemon Oil

Lemon essential oil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

Originally, the plant comes from what is now northeast India and China.

However, lemons weren’t introduced to Europe until the second century A.D.

Much later, English sailors applied lemons to treat bacterial infections and scurvy, although at the time they had no scientific awareness of vitamin C.

How Lemon Oil Is Made

First, the water and oil are squeezed from the lemon peel through a process called cold-pressing.

Next, a machine breaks up the cells and flushes off the oil with a water spray.

Finally, the oil-water mixture is filtered and separated using a centrifuge.

How to Use Lemon Essential Oil

Not only does it have a long list of health benefits, but you can also use it to clean your teeth, freshen-up your laundry, purify the air, and sanitize your house.

There’s a lot you can do with this one little oil!

Here are the four main ways to use lemon essential oil:

Orally: Try mixing a drop or two of food-grade lemon oil with a teaspoon of raw honey in hot water. It can improve digestion, relieve a sore throat, and detoxify the body.

Topically: Lemon oil can be applied topically with coconut oil or olive oil to improve absorption and extend its aromatic effects. All it takes is two drops of lemon oil in half a teaspoon of carrier oil. Apply it to your chest and nose to clear mucus or rub it into your temples and neck to relieve nausea. Lemon oil can also be used as an all-natural teeth whitener or added to a face wash to soften the skin.

Aromatically: By diffusing lemon essential oil in your home, you can improve mood, ease nausea, relieve coughs, clear mucus, and reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Add a few drops of lemon oil to a spray bottle with water and spread it around the room, or use an automatic diffuser. 

House & Home: Lemon oil is a main ingredient in many household cleaning products, and for good reason—it can disinfect countertops, clean sticky hands, polish wooden surfaces, freshen laundry, and clean dirty dishes, all without the use of harsh chemicals.

6 Health Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon oil’s antimicrobial properties make it ideal for nourishing the skin, supporting digestion, and detoxifying the liver and kidneys.

Here are the top six health benefits of lemon essential oil:

1. Detoxifies the Organs

Lemon oil’s antioxidant properties have been shown to detoxify the blood and protect the organs from oxidative stress.

Animal studies show that it can be particularly effective at maintaining the integrity of the liver, kidney, and brain by protecting them from harmful pathogens.

In a 2014 study, mice were separated into three experimental groups:

  1. Lemon oil and ginger extract
  2. Oregano oil 
  3. Clove oil

They were then treated with low daily doses of oral essential oil for six months.

All three groups experienced some reduction in oxidative stress, but the lemon oil and ginger oil group experienced the highest antioxidant effects on the liver and brain.

A 2016 study published in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy arrived at similar results.

This time, however, researchers tested the effects of lemon essential oil on rats with aspirin-induced liver and kidney damage.

The rats were treated with high doses of aspirin for 56 days.

Researchers concluded that, “[The] data suggests that treatment with essential oil of Citrus limon prevented the liver and kidney damage induced by aspirin.”

2. Improves Digestion

Do you struggle with digestive problems like gassiness, constipation, or intestinal inflammation?

If so, then lemon essential oil might be worth a try.

In a 10-day, randomized, placebo-control trial, elderly patients with constipation were treated with either a regular abdominal massage or an aromatherapy abdominal massage using lemon oil, peppermint oil, and rosemary oil.

The essential oil group reported significantly lower constipation scores compared to the control group.

At the same time, the essential oil group had more frequent bowel movements.

Plus, the effects lasted two weeks as opposed to only 7-10 days in the control group.

According to a 2009 animal study, lemon essential oil may also exert gastro-protective effects against stomach lesions and prevent erosion of the gut lining

In the study, rats were given high doses of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) along with limonene: one of the main active compounds in lemon oil.

Researchers concluded that, “[Lemon oil] can be regarded as a promising target for the development of a new drug for the prevention of gastric damage.”

3. Relieves Nausea

Are you pregnant and experiencing morning sickness?

Early research shows that inhaling lemon essential oil may reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

In a 2014 clinical trial, 100 pregnant women were separated into a lemon oil group and a placebo group and told to treat themselves with aromatherapy immediately upon feeling nauseous.

Researchers found that the lemon oil group experienced the greatest improvement in symptoms.

The study’s authors concluded that, “Lemon scent can be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.” 

4. Promotes Skin Health

Lemon oil is a common ingredient in skin care products.

That’s because its broad antioxidant and antimicrobial effects can treat skin irritations.

According to a 2017 meta-analysis published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, lemon essential oil has been used in dermatology to treat the following conditions:

  • Abscesses
  • Acne
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Blisters
  • Boils
  • Cellulite
  • Insect bites
  • Rosacea
  • Viral infections (cold sores, herpes, warts)
  • Wounds

For example, a biochemical study found that the antioxidant effects of lemon oil may nourish damaged skin and exert anti-aging effects.

5. Kills Germs and Bacteria

Lemon essential oil gets most of its antimicrobial qualities from two dominant compounds, b-pinene and limonene, which are also responsible for its potent aroma.

You can use lemon oil to cleanse your home of bacteria, fungi, and other harmful pathogens.

A 2017 study found that lemon oil can protect food by inhibiting the growth of bacteria in minced beef. 

Lemon oil can be particularly effective at killing Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus.

6. Reduces Inflammation 

Inflammation is closely linked to serious disease.

Fortunately, research shows that the active compounds in lemon oil may reduce painful inflammation.

In a 2013 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers isolated limonene from lemon oil to study its anti-inflammatory activity.

The study’s authors found that, “LIM [limonene] isolated from CLEO [lemon essential oil] had potential anti-inflammatory effects, likely by inhibiting pro-inflammatory mediators present in inflammatory exudate and leukocyte chemotaxis.

A 2016 rodent study tested the topical application of several citrus oils on the painful, swollen paws of rats.

Researchers found that, “C. limon [lemon oil] and C. limonia have significant effects, likely due to the presence of high amounts of limonene.”

Should You Try Lemon Essential Oil?

When it comes to lemon essential oil products, the complex composition of limonene and other terpenes are believed to have vast health-promoting properties. And if you’re curious about other citrus oils that have similar benefits, orange or grapefruit essential oil are a good place to start.

Always make sure to buy 100% pure, food-grade essential oil. And remember, it only takes 2-3 drops to experience its health benefits. Always seek professional medical advice if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking concurrent medications before introducing something new into your health and wellness routine.

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