Citron Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
From fighting diabetes to treating stomach worms, infections, and ulcers, the citron oil benefits are abundant. The essential oil of citron is extracted from its fruit citrus medica and has been popular since ages for its varied benefits on the body and mind.
Though citron (citrus medica) fruit is not edible, its extracts such as essential oils have scientifically proven benefits.
Considering that, here is a detailed article that highlights the health benefits of citron oil, its properties, uses, safety measures, and side effects.
What Is Citron Oil?
Citron oil is obtained from the citron fruit through the process of cold-pressing and hydrodistillation. However, the oil is also extracted from both its leaves and peel. During cold-pressing, the fruit is pressed with a steel press.
The advantage of cold-pressed oils is that they retain their aroma, nutritional value, and flavor. Thus, they are rich in antioxidants and provide greater care.
While extracting the oil via cold-press, they do not use heat. Though there is some heat generated due to friction, the fruit is not directly subjected to heat. (1)
There are two types of hydrodistillation:
- Immersing the leaves or the peel in water, and then boiling it.
- Passing the steam through the leaves/ peel.
In both cases, the steam carries the essential oil, and then they condense the steam to obtain the oil.
Scientific Name Of Citron Oil
The botanical name of citron is Citrus medica vulgaris.
History Of Citron Oil
Citron essential oil has been popular since the ancient times and was earlier used to balance the body, mind, and senses. Citron fruit is large with a thick, fragrant peel. It belongs to the heirloom variety.
A unique property of citron fruit is that all other citrus fruits are developed from it either by natural or artificial hybridization.
Another specialty of citron is that it is one of the four species, which was gathered in ancient times for celebrating the festival of Sukkot. Citron signifies female fertility.
According to Judaism, citron protects pregnancy when used according to rituals from the beginning. In fact, the stories of ancient Rome narrate the incidents wherein men were to be attacked by a lion, but they weren’t as they consumed Citron. It states that animals usually hate Citron.
In Sumatra, they used to bury the placenta of a newborn traditionally, cover it, and then sprinkle citron over it. Citron helps in the purification of amulet making, according to the Jewish book of talismanic magic. According to Tibetian mythology, citron represents fertility and wealth. (2)
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Citron Oil
- The color of citron oil is pale to dark yellow.
- The consistency of citron oil is thin.
- The smell of citron oil is sweet and flowery than other citrus oils. Thus, citron oil can blend well with oils that use flowery top notes. But it is not as candy-like as lemongrass essential oil.
Properties Of Citron Essential Oil
The medicinal properties of citron include:
- Soothing – Has a calming or soothing effect
- Stimulant – Raises the nervous or psychological activity in the body
- Relaxant – Reduces tension or promotes relaxation
- Harmonious – Well balanced
- Fresh – Refreshing aroma
- Sensual – Gratification of senses and sexual pleasure
- Antibiotic – Inhibits the growth of microorganisms
- Anti-diabetic – Reduces or prevents diabetes
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces redness, pain, and swelling (inflammation)
Chemical Compounds In Citron Oil
The essential oil extracted from leaves has a total of 99 components, and the major components are:
- Erucylamide - 28.43%
- Limonene - 18.36%
- Citral - 12.95%
The essential oil extracted from peel has a total of 43 components, and the major components are:
- Isolimonene - 39.37%
- Citral - 23.12%
- Limonene - 21.78%
The other components are:
- Gamma terpinene
- Citronellic acid
- Citronellyl acetate
- Alpha tereneol
Health Benefits Of Citron Oil
Though the citron oil benefits are plentiful, the most important ones include:
1. Fights against cancer
Cancer is a serious health condition where the cells (abnormal) divide uncontrollably and further, destroy the body tissues. However, the compound limonene present in citron essential oil is reported to be effective against various cancer lines such as Caco2, HepG2, MCF-7, and THP-1, and is most effective against Caco2 cells (3).
2. Well known antibiotic
A research proved that the citrus medica oil possesses significant antimicrobial properties. This particular property makes citron oil useful in the food industry. The compound limonene present in citron oil is effective against the following bacteria:
- Staphylococcus epidermidis
- Escherichia coli
- Pseudomonas fragi
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae
- aspergillus niger
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Salmonella Enteritidis
- Bacillus cereus
- Staphylococcus aureus
A study published in 2016 stated that Bacillus cereus is the most sensitive to Citrus medica oil whereas Staphylococcus aureus is sensitive even at lower concentrations of Citrus medica oil.
The study also reported that Citrus medica oil was more potent or effective than the antibiotic controls used in the study. Three microliters of the citron essential oil had the most antimicrobial effect.
3. Treats alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes memory loss and deteriorates other mental functions to such an extent that it affects the lives of individual and family.
As the disease worsens, the affected individual will need care in every aspect. Initially, there is a mild memory loss, but it gets worse with aging. Alzheimer’s disease is common in those who are older than 65 years. The person finds it difficult to engage even with simple conversations.
A study published in 2007 confirms that limonene and gamma-terpinene present in Citrus medica oil carry a significant antioxidant potential. Oxidation is the process, which forms free radicals and is responsible for causing and worsening various diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Chemicals and pollutants that we consume in our day-to-day lives and harmful radiation can cause oxidation. However, limonene and gamma-terpinene fight Alzheimer’s effectively by their antioxidant potential (6, 7, 8).
4. Effective for diabetes
Diabetes is a disease where there is high or elevated blood sugar levels. You have diabetes if the:
- FBS/ Fasting Blood Sugar is above 125mg/dl
- PPBS/ Post-Prandial Blood Sugar is above 200 mg/dl
- RBS/ Random Blood Sugar is above 200 mg/dl
- HbA1c above 6.5 mg/dl
If any of the above two results are true on more than two occasions, you are a diabetic. Your body produces a hormone known as insulin, which regulates the blood sugar levels.
An article published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives confirms citron oil is anti-diabetic and reduces blood sugar levels. The petroleum ether extract of Citrus medica Linn. seeds resulted in a significant reduction in the fasting blood glucose in a latest study.
Diabetes is caused either by insufficient insulin production or insulin resistance (your body doesn’t respond well to insulin.) Increased weight is one of the factors which causes insulin resistance.
5. Reduces inflammation
Redness, pain, swelling, difficulty to move, and high temperature are the signs of inflammation. Research says that citron essential oil fights inflammation. In a study published in 2013, the anti-inflammatory effects of essential oil obtained from citron peels was assessed. The results concluded that citron had significant anti-inflammatory potential (11).
6. Cures dysentery
Dysentery is the inflammation of the bowel. Swelling, pain, and redness are few of the signs of inflammation. It causes stomach cramps and diarrhea (passing watery stools.) There can also be mucus or blood in the stools.
To relieve dysentery, you can add 2 to 3 drops of citron oil to any vegetable oil that you use for cooking. Use this mixture to massage your abdomen. This gives relief (12).
7. Lowers bad cholesterol
You have two major types of cholesterols (fats) in your body:
- Good: HDL or High-Density Lipid is the good cholesterol. The more you have it in your body, the better it is.
- Bad: LDL or Low-Density Lipid. You should have a minimum LDL level.
LDL settles down in the walls of your blood vessels and narrows down the space required for the blood to flow freely.
High cholesterol is a dangerous condition, commonly termed as atherosclerosis. It causes heart diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and heart failures.
Your heart supplies oxygen to all the parts of your body via blood. When your blood vessels narrow, your heart needs to pump the blood with higher pressure so that it meets the oxygen needs of your body. Thus, there is an increase in blood pressure.
Sometimes the atherosclerotic plaque (composed of LDL and debris) can dislodge from the walls of major blood vessels and block other blood vessels that supply to the crucial organs like the heart.
When there is a blockage, there is a cessation of blood flow to heart muscles, causing death, and this is known as heart attack.
On the other hand, heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump enough blood (due to blockage). A severe form of heart failure can cause instant death. Happily, citron oil lowers bad cholesterol and prevents deadly heart problems (13, 14).
8. Heals stomach ulcers
One of the best benefits of citron oil is its ability to heal stomach ulcers. A study stated that citron extract brings in a significant reduction in ethanol-induced ulcers in rats. Thanks to the flavonoids present in it, which exert gastro-protective effects.
9. Destroys stomach worms
Citron essential oil helps in getting rid of worms, especially human Ascaris lumbricoides. It is also effective against the Indian adult earthworms. The citron oil prevents the absorption of glucose in worms, and inhibits the synthesis of glucose in them (17).
10. Helps treat rheumatism
Rheumatism is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. Generally, your body has a protective mechanism, which attacks foreign invaders such as harmful bacteria and viruses. Autoimmune disease is a disease wherein your body identifies your own tissues as foreign and attacks them.
However, citron oil helps in treating a problem like rheumatism. In fact, it has been used as a folk medicine. (18)
Uses Of Citron Oil
Though citron is used various purposes, these are the few notable ones:
- Aromatherapy: Citron oil possesses a special value in aromatherapy. It helps you calm down and stabilize your nervous system. It is also useful in meditation and relax your mind. This is mainly due to the presence of limonene in it.
- Flavoring agent: The oil extracted from citrus medica is used as a flavoring agent in sweets and beverages such as soft drinks and fruit juices.
- Food preserving agent: The antimicrobial and anthelminthic activities of flavonoids present in the citrus medica oil is used as a food preservative from ages.
- Perfume making: The essential oil of citron peel is often used in perfumes. It is an ideal refreshing perfume for indoors. Citron essential oil can also improve the smell of other products.
- Boosts the quality of cosmetics: Citron essential oil is useful in cosmetics, and thanks to its fragrance. Also, the essential oil derived from citron enhances the quality of cosmetics confirms a phytochemistry study published in 2012 (19, 20).
What blends with Citron oil?
Citron oil blends the best with:
- Bay leaf oil
- Orange oil
- Basil oil
- Tonka bean oil
- Rosewood oil
- Cardamom oil
- Sandalwood oil
- Amyris oil
- Rose oil
- Cassie oil
- Clary sage oil
- Petitgrain oil
- Patchouli oil
- Clove oil
- Coriander oil
- Neroli oil
- Myrtle oil
- Cubeb oil
- Gingergrass oil
- Grapefruit oil
- Cumin oil
- Lime oil
- Lemon oil
- Elemi oil
- Frankinsense oil
- Lavender oil
- Labdanum oil
- Hay oil
- Jasmine oil
- Galbanum oil
- Geranium oil
Apart from the above, when citron oil blends with Bergamot oil it, makes a significant change in the blending.
How To Use Citron Oil?
Citron essential oil is suitable for using up to six months. You can also refrigerate it to make it ideal for long-term use. Here are a few ways of using the oil:
- Ingestion: Add a few drops of citron oil to the vegetable oil, which you use. But not in excess. Keep it minimal, as essential oils are potent.
- Inhalation: You can add 2 to 3 drops of citron oil to the boiling water, and inhale its steam.
- For your skin: Applying the cream made of citron on your chest helps ease the cold. For local application, you can also add a few drops to a spoonful of oil or add 40 drops to 100 ml of oil. For delicate skin or sensitive areas, you can reduce the addition to 20 drops to 100 ml oil.
- Aromatic bath: Add 15 drops of citrus medica oil to 3 teaspoons of liquid soap.
Side Effects Of Citron Oil
Your skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight after applying citron essential oil. Thus, avoid exposure to direct sunlight for few hours after the application. Talk to your doctor for more details and personalized advice.