Lemon Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects

The lemon oil benefits are abundant. The medicinal properties of lemon essential oil are attributed to its rich source of vitamins and minerals. It is a well-known detoxification agent, an anti-microbial, and much more.

The fresh and clean aroma of lemon essential oil makes it an addition to room fragrances. It is a genuine all-rounder.

On that note, let’s understand its compounds, properties, and much more in detail.

What Is Lemon Oil?

The lemon essential oil is extracted from the peels of citrus limon fruit. It is a pale yellow fruit known globally with 5 – 10 seeds. The fruit is a common part of many cuisines around the world.

The juices extracted from it is used in numerous food recipes and has a fresh and tangy nature.

Citrus limon is a small evergreen tree belonging to Rutaceae family, which grows in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Though the tree can be grown in every household, subtropical regions are much suited for commercial productions.

The tree is small and thorny, which grows about 3 – 6 meters. It has glossy leaves, sweet-scented white flowers, and yellow fruits.

The rind of the fruit is often used for producing essential oils. However, the essential oils obtained from its flowers, twigs, and fruits are also available in the market (1).

The method of oil extraction plays a significant role in the chemical and systemic properties of lemon essential oil. The method of oil extraction plays a significant role in the chemical and systemic properties of lemon essential oil.

The oil is extracted from the lemon peels either by cold expression or steam distillation method. While the cold pressed lemon essential oil is phototoxic, distilled version is not.

The distilled lemon oil is mostly used as a flavoring agent, and the one obtained from cold expression is used for aromatherapy. Argentina, Spain, United States, Italy, Brazil, Greece, South Africa, and China are the principal places of production.

lemon oil skin benefits

Scientific Name Of Lemon Oil

The botanical name of lemon is Citrus limon.

History Of Lemon Oil

Lemons have existed since ages. However, India is believed to be its origin. It was brought to the Middle East by Arab traders. The fruits are known for its versatility and have been used for medicinal properties worldwide.

The lemon fruits are the source of citric acid, and the essential oils are rich in vitamins and minerals. Interestingly, lemons were unknown in Europe until Alexander the Great brought it from Asia.

You can find lemon essential oil in dishwashers, as it is useful in removing stains and polishing metals. It is also used as a solvent.

Colour, Consistency, and Smell Of Lemon Oil

  • The colour of lemon oil is pale yellow to deep yellow.
  • The consistency of lemon oil is thin.
  • The smell of lemon oil is sweet, fruity, light, and fresh citrus.

Properties Of Lemon Essential Oil

The therapeutic properties of lemon essential oil include:

  • Anthelmintic – Repels intestinal parasites
  • Antibacterial – Prevents bacterial growth
  • Antifungal – Prevents fungal growth
  • Anti-infectious – Prevents uptake of infection
  • Anti-inflammatory – Alleviates inflammation
  • Antimicrobial – Prevents microorganism growth
  • Antioxidant – Inhibits oxidation
  • Antirheumatic – Relieves symptoms associated with rheumatic conditions
  • Antiseptic – Kills microbes and further, prevents their growth
  • Antispasmodic – Relieves or prevents spasms, contractions or convulsions
  • Antiviral – Prevents viral growth
  • Astringent – Contracts or tightens tissues
  • Calmative – Sedative, calming agent
  • Carminative – Gets rid of flatulence, eases bloating and abdominal pain
  • Cicatrizing – promotes the formation of scar tissue, thus healing
  • Circulatory – Promotes the flow of blood and lymph
  • Depurative – Cleanser, detoxifier
  • Digestive – Helps in the digestion of food
  • Diuretic – Promotes the removal of excess water from the body
  • Hemostatic – Arrests blood flow
  • Hypotensive – Lowers blood pressure
  • Immunostimulant – Stimulates the action of the immune system
  • Laxative – Assists in bowel elimination
  • Restorative – Strengthens and revives the body’s systems
  • Stimulant – Increases the overall function of the body
  • Stomachic – Good for the stomach; gastric tonic, digestive aid
  • Tonic – Invigorates, refreshes, restores the body and bodily functions
  • Vulnerary – Heals wounds and sores by external application

Chemical Compounds In Lemon Oil

The chemical constituents of lemon essential oil vary according to the method of extraction.

The compounds found in the distilled lemon essential oil include (þ)-Limonene (64.0-70.5%), b-Pinene (8.2–14.0%), g-Terpinene (8.4–10.7%), Geranial (0.7–2.2%), a-Pinene (1.1–2.1%), Sabinene (0.8–1.7%), b-Myrceneþmethyl heptenone (1.4–1.6%), and Neral (0.5–1.5%).


The lemon essential oil obtained from cold expression consists of (þ)-Limonene (56.6–76.0%), b-Pinene (6.0–17.0%), g-Terpinene (3.0–13.3%), a-Terpineol (0.1–8.0%), a-Pinene (1.3–4.4%), Geranial (0.5–4.3%), Sabinene (0.5–2.4%), p-Cymene (2.3%), b-Myrcene (2.2%), Neral (0.4–2.0%), Terpinen-4-ol (1.9%), and Neryl acetate (0.1–1.5%).

Health Benefits Of Lemon Oil

Though the lemon oil benefits are abundant, the most important ones include:

1. Fights skin infections

Bacteria, fungi or virus can cause infections on the skin. Skin, being the largest organ, is prone to various diseases. However, lemon juice has been traditionally used to treat multiple skin infections – from ringworm to warts.

Studies have proven the effectiveness of lemon essential oil’s antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.

Limonene, pinene, and myrcene are the compounds attributed to these properties. Of these compounds, limonene is proven to be an effective antifungal property  (2, 3).

Since the oil may be an irritant to sensitive, dry, and cracked skin, make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil before applying it to the affected area.

Also, lemon oil is phototoxic. Always use the oil before bed and wash before you head outside.

2. Gets rid of acne

Acne is one of the most embarrassing problems among people. It is an inflammatory skin condition, which can often turn chronic if left untreated.

Pimple, blackspots, whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts are all a type of acne. It is often caused due to hormonal imbalances, unhealthy lifestyle, and diet. Stress and anxiety are known to be the primary causes.

However, a gentle massage with lemon essential oil helps to treat acne. This is due to the presence of rich antioxidants in it (4, 5, 6).

Perform a patch test before you apply the oil. Make sure to dilute 2 – 3 drops of lemon essential oil with 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Apply it to your skin during the night, and wash after 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this until you see desired results.

3. Heals insect bites

The lemon essential oil is excellent in relieving that pain from insect bites. Also, lemon oil is an insect repellent effect against the malaria vector; Anopheles stephensi claims a study (7).

Remove the stinger if you can find one. Then apply the diluted lemon essential oil on the infected region. It is always good to use the oil as soon as possible. The sooner, the better.

The antiseptic property of the oil prevents further infection on the region.  Keep this oil handy in your basic travel kit.

4. Fights candidiasis

Every healthy human being has a yeast called Candida in their body. When the number of Candida increases than required, it becomes an infection. The infection causes rashes, itching and may also lead to critical situations.

The yeast infections occur typically in immunocompromised individuals. There are always one or more underlying diseases, which cause an imbalance in the number of Candida species.

Candidiasis can occur anywhere in the body but it most common in mouth, skin or genitals.

However, the lemon essential oil is proven effective against candida during a study. High limonene content in it is the main reason for its antifungal activity (8).

Blend 3 – 4 drops of lemon oil with 3 – 4 drops of eucalyptus oil. Take 3 drops from the blend and dilute it with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Apply this mixture on the infected region.

5. Cures digestive issues

Lemon essential oil does wonders to your digestive health. It is an excellent remedy for appetite loss and other digestive issues.

Digestion begins from the mouth. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of the lemon oil help treat various oral problems like bad breath, oral thrush, and mouth ulcers.

In addition, lemon oil alleviates constipation and treats indigestion. It treats flatulence and reduces the symptoms of nausea (9).

For best results, dilute 3 – 4 drops of lemon essential oil with 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed castor oil. Massage the abdomen gently with this mixture for immediate relief.

6. Aids weight loss

A regular massage with lemon essential oil activates the nerves and their activities with White Adipose tissues. It eventually increases lipolysis, which helps reduce weight and further, prevents weight gain (10).

Make a healthy weight loss blend by combining 4 – 5 drops of lemon oil with 2 – 3 drops of cinnamon oil and 2 – 3 drops of ginger oil. Take 4 – 5 drops of this mixture and dilute it with 2 tablespoons of castor oil or coconut oil. Massage your body with this mixture, especially on the cellulite twice daily.

Besides this, regular exercise and a healthy diet give you the result you desire.

7. Helps overcome depression

The lemon essential oil is an excellent stress reliever.  Studies have shown that lemon essential oil uplifts the mood and acts as an anti-stress agent by modulating the activities of dopamine (the happy chemical) (11).

Mental health is equally important as physical health. If you find yourself or your dear ones suffering from depression, help them immediately.

Time and love are the most significant therapy for those suffering from depression. Aromatherapy along with love and care is vital for recovery. Make a blend of oils using 5 drops of lemon oil, 10 drops of sandalwood oil, and 10 drops of rose oil.

Dilute 3 – 4 drops of this mixture in 2 tablespoons of carrier oil. Use it as a body oil. You can also diffuse it with a diffuser or use the oil in bath or shower for aromatherapy benefits.

8. Increases concentration

Many studies have proven that lemon essential oil significantly enhances attention level, concentration cognitive performance, mood, memory power, and learning behavior.

It also works on heart rhythm, helping you to remain positive and happy (12, 13, 14).

The lemon essential oil is slightly sedative but calming. It aids focus and concentration, primarily when used in a blend.

Make your memory blend using 3 drops of lemon oil, 2 drops of peppermint oil, and 5 drops of rosemary oil. Dilute 3 drops of this mixture using a suitable carrier oil and massage it on your head. You can also diffuse the blend using a vaporizer for a refreshing aroma.

9. Effective lymphatic stimulant

Healthy living needs a holistic approach to maintain good health. Lymphatic drainage is one among the crucial but underestimated processes.

Lymphatic drainage helps you to reduce fluid retention in the body. It promotes weight loss, regenerates tissues, and eliminates toxins. Most importantly, it helps in maintaining a healthy immune system. (15, 16)

Make a blend using 10 drops of lemon oil, 5 drops of juniper berry oil, and  10 drops of cypress oil. Dilute 4 – 5 drops of the mixture in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.

Apply the oil in an upward stroke from ankle to hip. Massage in small clockwise motions in the abdomen. Apply in downward stroke in the shoulders, arms, and armpits.

10. Balances the metabolism

Lemon essential oil acts as a metabolic regulator. They are termed as adaptogens. Their function is to instigate an appropriate reaction in the body to achieve homeostasis.

It works on the autoimmune nervous system. It is a mild sedative, stimulant, and tonic. So it gives you a calming effect, improves circulation, and helps to assimilate essential nutrients.

Make a blend by using 10 drops of lemon oil and 10 drops of peppermint oil. Dilute 5 drops of the mix using 2 tablespoons of almond oil. You can either massage or use it in your bath or shower.

What Blends With Lemon Oil?

Lemon oil blends the best with:

How To Use Lemon Oil?

lemon oil benefits

The cold pressed lemon essential oil is mostly used in Aromatherapy. High limonene content in the oil makes it necessary to protect it from getting oxidized. Always make sure you store the oil in a dark place an airtight container.

  • Topical Application: Studies have found that the oil causes skin sensitization when oxidized. The Lemon essential oil is studied to be phototoxic. It is always best you apply diluted lemon essential oil on your skin. Avoid exposure to sunlight for 12 – 24 hours after application.
  • Aromatherapy: The refreshing and light scent of lemon oil makes it irresistible. For aromatherapy benefits, the oil can be diffused using a vaporizer or diffuser. You can also use it in a bath or shower.
  • Ingestion: The oil has been given Generally Recognised as Safe by the Food and Drug Administration. It means you can use the oil in food when it is solvent free. However, direct oral intake of the lemon essential oil is not recommended without a professional prescription.

Side Effects Of Lemon Oil

  • The oil may cause skin sensitisation and may be a dermal irritant if misused.
  • Always use the oil within 8 – 10 months of purchasing.
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight for 12 to 24 hours after application.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using the oil.
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