The Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

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.

Uses for Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil is typically used to treat the following health problems:

  • anxiety
  • asthma
  • athlete's foot
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • stress
  • varicose veins

In addition, lemon essential oil is said to stimulate the immune system, protect against Alzheimer's disease, alleviate pain, and promote weight loss.

Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

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

1) 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, rosemary, lavender, 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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.

How To Use Lemon Essential Oil

When diluted with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), lemon essential oil can be applied to the skin or added to baths. It should not be applied full-strength to the skin.

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

It's important to note that lemon essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of lemon essential oil may have toxic 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.

Learn more about how to use essential oils safely.

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.

Using Lemon Essential Oil for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend lemon essential oil as a treatment for any condition. If you're considering using it, talk to your doctor first. 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.


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.

Continue Reading