The Benefits and Uses of Lemon Essential Oil

lemon essential oil
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Lemon essential oil is a type of essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. Sourced from the peel of the Citrus limon plant, lemon essential oil is said to offer a number of health benefits.

Why Do People Use Lemon Essential Oil?

Lemon essential oil is typically used to ease stress, fight fatigue and insomnia, and address conditions such as acne, athlete's foot, depression, warts, and varicose veins.

In addition, lemon essential oil is said to stimulate the immune system, alleviate pain, and promote weight loss.

The Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

Although research on the health effects of the aromatherapeutic use of lemon essential oil is limited, there's some evidence that lemon essential oil may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available studies:

1) Anxiety

Several preliminary studies suggest that lemon essential oil may help reduce anxiety and stress. For example, a 2004 study on rats determined that exposure to the odor of lemon essential oil helped reduce levels of corticosterone (a type of stress hormone). Published in Brain Research, the study also found that lemon essential oil may possess anxiety-reducing and pain-relieving properties.

2) Mood

Preliminary research indicates that lemon essential oil may enhance mood. In a small study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology in 2008, for instance, researchers found that inhaling the aroma of lemon essential oil was more effective in improving mood than aromatherapy involving the use of lavender essential oil.

The study involved 56 healthy men and women.

3) Weight Loss

Lemon essential oil shows promise for the prevention of weight gain, according to a 2003 study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine. In tests on rats, scientists found that breathing in the scent of lemon and grapefruit essential oils altered nervous system activity in a way that may promote the breakdown of body fat.

However, due to a lack of clinical trials testing the effects of lemon essential on fat breakdown, it's too soon to recommend lemon essential oil as a weight loss aid.

4) Alzheimer's Disease

Lemon essential oil may be of some benefit to people with Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in Psychogeriatrics in 2009. For the study, 28 older adults (including 17 people with Alzheimer's disease) used aromatherapy (including use of lemon, rosemarylavender, and orange essential oils) for 28 days. Study results showed that aromatherapy led to a significant improvement in certain measures of cognitive function, especially among the Alzheimer's patients.

Using Lemon Essential Oil

When diluted with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), a drop or two of lemon essential oil can be applied to the skin or added to baths.

Pure lemon essential oil shouldn't be applied directly to skin or used in larger amounts than recommended (the oil is absorbed through the skin and using too much can be toxic).

Lemon essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a drop of the oil onto a cloth or tissue (or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer).

Possible Side Effects

There's some concern that applying lemon essential oil to the skin may increase your sensitivity to ultraviolet light emitted by the sun and—as a result—raise your risk of skin cancer. When using lemon essential oil on your skin, it's crucial to protect against ultraviolet light exposure by applying sunblock.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils. 

With any essential oil, there is a risk of contact sensitivity. A skin patch test should be done before using any new essential oil. 

Lemon essential oil shouldn't be ingested. Learn more about how to use essential oils safely.

Keep in mind that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Where To Find It

Widely available for purchase online, lemon essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

The Bottom Line

While it's too soon to recommend lemon essential oil as a treatment for any condition, using the healing scent may have benefits for the mind and body. While you can schedule an aromatherapy massage or facial, the oil can also be used at home. Just be sure to consult an aromatherapist or gain an understanding of how to use these powerful oils safely.

Sources:

Ceccarelli I, Lariviere WR, Fiorenzani P, Sacerdote P, Aloisi AM. Effects of long-term exposure of lemon essential oil odor on behavioral, hormonal and neuronal parameters in male and female rats. Brain Res. 2004 Mar 19;1001(1-2):78-86.

Jimbo D, Kimura Y, Taniguchi M, Inoue M, Urakami K. Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer's disease. Psychogeriatrics. 2009 Dec;9(4):173-9.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Graham JE, Malarkey WB, Porter K, Lemeshow S, Glaser R. Olfactory influences on mood and autonomic, endocrine, and immune function. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008 Apr;33(3):328-39.

Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behav Brain Res. 2006 Sep 25;172(2):240-9.

Niijima A, Nagai K. Effect of olfactory stimulation with flavor of grapefruit oil and lemon oil on the activity of sympathetic branch in the white adipose tissue of the epididymis. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Nov;228(10):1190-2.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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