13 Healing Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

13_Benefits_Lemon_OilAnd dulling tastes of happy Citron fruit,
Than which, no helpe more present can be had,
If any time stepmothers worse than brute
have poyson'd pots, and mingled herbs of sute
With hurtfull charmes: this Citron fruit doth chase
Blacke venome from the body in every place.

~ Virgil 70 BC – 19 BC

Despite the quote from the storied author above, the history of Citrus limon is quite silent. The lemon itself is native to Asia, grown from a small, evergreen tree. Multiple cultures claim the lemon as their own, from Burma and China to northeast India. Botanists from the University of California have their own twist, believing that the lemon is actually a hybrid fruit, combining sour orange and citron, rather than standing alone as a historical species. (1)

So while we speak so frequently about the historical use of many essential oils, the history of lemon itself is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. We have seen lemons in Ayurvedic medicine for as much as a century, and lemons appear again in Josephus' writings, describing a high priest's fruitful encounter with an angry crowd in 90 B.C. – who preceded to pelt him with lemons for his errant ways!



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The key to it's healing power, lemon rinds (where the essential oil is extracted from) are one of the richest sources of d-limonene, which is the most common cancer-fighting terpenes in nature. (source)  Additionally we know that d-limonene can help:

  • Boost immunity (sourcesource)
  • Reverse liver and pancreas damage (source)
  • Kill pathogens and acts as a food preservative (source)
  • Aid in weight loss (source)
  • Decrease anxiety (source)
  • Promote restful sleep (source)

Some of the richest sources of d-limonene are: (source, p 580)

  • Sweet orange (83.9 – 95.9%)
  • Grapefruit (84.8 – 95.4%)
  • Clementine (94.8 – 95.0%)
  • Bitter orange, peel (89.7 – 91.7%)
  • Tangerine (87.4 – 91.7%
  • Lemon, expressed (56.6 – 76.0%)
  • Celery seed (68.0 – 75.0%)
  • Mandarin (65.3 – 74.2%)
  • Tangelo (73.2%)
  • Lemon, distilled (64.0 – 70.5%)
  • Dill seed (35.9-68.4%)
  • Elemi (26.9 – 65.0%)
  • Palo santo (58.6 – 63.3%)
  • Yuzu (63.1%)
  • Lime, expressed (51.5-59.6%)
  • Lime, distilled (55.6%)
  • Fir needle, silver (54.7%)
  • Bergamot, expressed (27.4 – 52.0%)
  • Caraway (36.9 – 48.8%)

13 Key Ayurvedic Uses

Traditional use has carried us where historical origins fail, and we have plenty of record of lemon's benefits in Ayurvedic medicine, followed in recent decades by scientific confirmation.

Ayurvedic food and medicinal preparations use lemon and lemon essential oil heavily, giving us an excellent basis for discovery and use.

Assistant professor of Alva's Ayurveda Medical College, Dr. J.V. Hebbar, relays the 13 key benefits of lemon and lemon essential oil in the Ayurvedic model: (2)

  1. Vakrashodhi – Oral health
  2. Rochana – Digestion.
  3. Trushna Nivarana – Thirst quencher.
  4. Shula Nivarana – Remedy for abdominal colic pain.
  5. Kasa Nivarana – Cough relief.
  6. Kaphotklesha, Chardi Nivarana – Calms stomach and relieves nausea, excessive salivation and vomiting.
  7. Amadoshahara – Prevents malabsorption.
  8. Hrutpeeda – Relieves chest pain due to gastritis.
  9. Asya vairasya hara – Relieves bad breath
  10. Vahnimandyahara – Promotes digestion, it is naturally detoxifying.
  11. Varnya – Improves complexion and skin tone.
  12. Pushtiprada – Nourishes the skin.
  13. Kapha Dosha – Weight loss.

Other notable effects include the regulation of cholesterol deposits in the circulatory system, which can help to reduce risk factors for heart disease!

Current Research

Hundreds of studies have referred to lemon essential oil, exploring the dozens of traditional uses. Its most prominent component, limonene, is likely the key to its potency, found in many citrus oils. Its cancer-fighting antioxidant power is impressive, as well. With such a strong foundational composition, it's not surprising that the science is catching up to 1,000-year-tradition at breakneck speed!

Alzheimer's and Dementia

Dementia occurs when brain nerve cells become damaged. Being that this affect several areas of the brain, people experience dementia quite differently. There are various types of dementias, and they are often categorized by the part of the brain damaged and whether the condition worsens. Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia in seniors over 65 years old is, has been researched extensively and essential oils can be of great help.

For instance, the effects of aromatherapy were evaluated on elderly people suffering from dementia, with the majority being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. They were given rosemary and lemon inhalations in the morning, then lavender and orange in the evening. Through multiple tests and forms of analysis, the “patients showed significant improvement in personal orientation” without any deleterious side effects. (3)

Nausea and Vomiting

An interesting study came out the spring of 2014, highlighting the benefits that lemon essential oil has for pregnant women dealing with nausea and vomiting. This was actually the first study of its kind and they discovered some promising results. Basing their research findings on the personal report 100 women provided to the researchers, they learned that the majority were significantly more satisfied with aromatherapy (i.e. simply smelling lemon essential oil out of the bottle) than with the drugs that they were given or the placebo. (4)


Another component of lemon that researchers have recently validated is geraniol. To evaluate the antioxidant ability to reverse damage from inflammation and oxidative stress, scientists in India gave geraniol to rats with diabetic neuropathy. Over the course of the 8-week study, markers of sciatic nerve damage and mitochondrial enzymes were both restored significantly. As a bonus, they also observed restored dopamine levels, the neurotransmitter that is associated with healthy functions like movement and unhealthy functions like addiction. (5)

Although this was an animal study and not necessarily indicative of mirrored results in humans, the potential beneficial effects of regular lemon essential oil use are promising, especially with our current influx of mitochondrial disease and the effects of stress on the heart and aging. And, as concluded,

“From our data, we hypothesize that [geraniol] may be a promising therapeutic candidate in the management of [diabetic neuropathy] in humans!”

Food Safety

Food safety is another major benefit of lemon essential oil use. A USDA study utilized lemon in a study regarding E. coli and Salmonella. It successfully protected apple juice against the dangerous bacterial strains, confirming its antimicrobial use. (6)

Canine Dermatitis

After just a couple of examples, it already seems like lemon is a super-oil. And for good reason – it really is! Not only for us, but for our four-legged friends, as well. In 2014, Italian scientists documented the benefits of bitter orange, lavender, oregano, marjoram, peppermint, and helichrysum in a sweet almond/coconut oil carrier on dogs with dermatitis. A common denominator and major active compound? Limonene. Twice daily applications for one month were comparable to conventional treatments, with no side effects and benefits lasting for six months. (7) Impressive, to say the least!

I would love to see the study replicated with lemon included or replacing some of the oils, since lemon contains the highest limonene amounts of all citrus oils. (8)

Fun & Effective Lemon Essential Oil Uses

We've already walked through quite a range of uses for lemon essential oil, so there's no surprise at the long list of practical applications. These are just a sampling, and some of my favorite ways to use lemon outside of medicinal benefits.

1. Freshen Clothes – We've all forgotten to switch laundry to the dryer at least once. Just add a few drops of lemon EO in a rinse to prevent that awful odor.

2. Remove Gum and Sap – Playtime around trees can quickly become a mess. Remove pine gum or tree sap from clothes and carpet with an essential oil application.

3. Wash Greasy Hands – Soap just doesn't always cut it after doing mechanic work. But with a couple of drops of lemon essential oil added to your soap, the grime should wash right off!

4. Disinfect (Without the Toxins!) – Alcohol and bleach are harsh, especially when little hands and lungs are around. Instead, add 40 drops lemon oil to 8 oz pure distilled water and 8 oz witch hazel or white vinegar to clean the moldy shower and germy countertops.

5. Safe Leather Treatment – A dab of lemon oil on a cloth will restore leather furniture, shoes, and clothing to their original luxe.

6. Polish Silver – Try the same effect on tarnished silverware and jewelry to bring back the shine.

7. Goo-Be-Gone – Sticker books are a parent's nemesis when the stickers find their home on windows and furniture. Remove stickers, gum, and other gooey remnants with the help of lemon essential oil!

What's YOUR favorite way to use lemon?

Safety & Contraindications

Are you sure you're using essential oils safely and effectively? Are you confused by dilutions and conversions?

 Let me help take out the guesswork and download my FREE roller bottle guide HERE.

Essential Oil Roller Bottle Dilution Guide

When it comes to drug interactions and contraindications, there are literally textbooks devoted to the study of essential oil safety and, as a trained researcher and doctor, I think it’s important to note that there is virtually no research out there discussing how essential oils interact with drugs in human clinical trials. This means that essential oil safety is still a wild frontier in the science community and no one really knows (for certain) how essential oils will interact with drugs or your body.

Nonetheless, properly diluting your essential oils is fundamental to safety and effectiveness because they are highly concentrated plant compounds. To help you along your journey, I have a created an easy-to-use dilution guide that you can download for FREE to make sure that all of your topical applications are safe and effective for the entire family. 

<< CLICK HERE to Download My FREE EO Roller Bottle Dilution Chart! >>

As with as medicine and natural therapies, this is only a guide and be sure to discontinue use if any adverse reactions occur and consult your physician immediately.


  1. http://journal.ashspublications.org/content/126/3/309.full.pdf
  2. http://easyayurveda.com/about/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20377818
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24829772
  5. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jnr.23393/abstract
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15366861
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15366861
  8. http://www.perkinelmer.com/cmsresources/images/app_lim

This post currently has 22 comments.

  1. Lori
    June 30, 2017

    I drink a glass of lemon water every morning (with a squeezed lemon and drop of lemon oil and a drop of grapefruit oil) when I wake up and wait a half hour or so to eat. I used to be on prescription heartburn medication daily and I can say that I no longer take this and in the past 6 months might of had a mild heartburn probably two times and that was after eating something spicy. Natural is the better way to go for sure!

  2. Dave Anderson
    May 2, 2017

    My wife is always using different essentials around the house like lavender and lemon and she claims that they can help with things like relaxation and energy. I didn’t believe her until I found this site and others like it that mention all of the same benefits that the essential oils she uses have. I did not believe in the essential oils, however, now I think that they really can be beneficial and I think that I will even get her some more for her birthday that it coming up.

    • Dr. Z
      May 3, 2017

      Awesome, Dave!

      I can totally relate. I wasn’t a believer – thinking EOs were just “smelly stuff” my wife used, until I found the research. Pretty profound stuff…

  3. linda f
    January 13, 2017

    i have read conflicting info on the essential oil rosemary…is it safe for people with high blood pressure to use rosemary? can one use it for. hair conditioning….aroma therapy..thanks for your help…

  4. Sheridan Sorensen
    November 3, 2016

    Hi Dr Z! I only discovered you today watching an interview you did on Food Matters TV here in Australia.

    I love EO and particularly this article…personally I use lemon oil in salad dressings I make at home and for my cafe, and throughout the day in my water. I find it adds a lovely zing with the added therapeutic benefits.

    Thank you for the tonne of information you share on your website!!! So generous and informative ??

    • Dr. Z
      November 20, 2016

      Welcome to my site Sheridan!

      I’m excited that you’ve found me and my work. James and the Food Matters team are great people and I hope to speak at their live event next year.

      In the meantime, don’t forget to join my EO newsletter and check out my EO club here –> http://essentialoilsclub.info

  5. Val
    October 11, 2016

    Hi Dr. Z! Can you tell us what your source for essential oils are? Just want to make sure we get pure, clean and organic. Thank you

  6. Karen Watkins
    September 18, 2016

    I just read an article from the Atlantic Institute and an article for Aromaceuticals. Both say to NEVER take EO internally and that using Lemon EO in water can cause damage. I am so confused because most people on your summit talked about taking EO internally which is when I started putting 1-2 drops of lemon in my water. You state internal is fine. Who am I supposed to believe?

    • Dr. Z
      September 19, 2016

      Hi Karen,

      I’m actually getting certified in Aromatherapy by the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy and I can you (with certainty) that Sylla does NOT teach against internal use. That’s the reason I chose to study under Sylla. She doesn’t say to “never” take EOs internally, but teaches how to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of EOs safely and effectively.

      This article should help –> http://drericz.com/are-essential-oils-safe-for-internal-use/

  7. MicheleM
    June 12, 2016

    I can’t take my wedding ring off ever since I slammed my knuckle on the basement wall while weeding a few years ago so I am looking for a non-toxic way to clean and shine my ring while on my finger. So lemon oil would not harm the gold or stones?

    • Customer Support
      June 13, 2016

      I recommend asking a jeweler about that! Every stone is different and I know the sapphire in one of my rings can’t be cleaned with normal jewelry cleaner. I had to get a special kind for precious stones.

  8. shalini Mehta
    May 23, 2016

    Hi Dr Z,

    I have tried searching for these answer on your website, it would be great if you could answer. I’ve already read your ebook on EO also.I just bought Lemon oil. What is the best way to use it? Also wanted to know how can lemon oil be used for weight loss.


    • Dr. Z
      May 26, 2016

      Hi Shalini,

      Hope you’re enjoying the book!

      There are several ways to use lemon oil. It all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. A few drops in a diffuser for mood enhancement, a drop in 8 oz water for weight loss, and the list goes on…

  9. Janet
    May 22, 2016

    Wondering about ingesting frankincense oil. I use 2 drops on roof of mouth and swallow with water but is this safe and is there a limit of time for usage that is safe?
    Where can I buy the purest organic essential oils. Not sure who is reputable.
    Cannot seem to find a holistic Dr. Nearby. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • Dr. Z
      May 26, 2016

      Hi Janet,

      Traditional aromatherapy teaches that 1 drop under the tongue once or twice a day is fine, but I wouldn’t recommend using anything for extended periods of time. Couple weeks on / couple weeks off. This is a good idea for any supplement and natural remedy.

    • Susan
      July 15, 2016

      Janet, I love Green Valley Aromatherapy at http://www.57aromas.com. They are located in British Columbia, Canada. I’ve had great results with many of their oils and they tell you how each oil can be used. Good stuff.

  10. LJ
    May 3, 2016

    How should Lemon Oil be used for neuropathy

    • Dr. Z
      May 6, 2016

      Aromatically (diffused) and topically (diluted) are popular ways…

  11. pargash
    November 8, 2015

    I love your work Dr Z – I have seen a huge improvement using Frankence oil for reducing inflamation

    I have a query re lemon EO

    I have developed a sensitivity to all phenolics – basically all fruit with pigments

    Just wondering if I need to stop using all cirtrus oils

    Blessings Pargash

    • Dr. Z
      November 10, 2015

      Hi Pargarsh,

      You should find this article helpful to help understand the phenol content of EOs –> http://www.essentialoils.co.za/components.htm

      It’s a hit-or-miss kind of thing. Aromatherapy may work, diluted topical use may not. Or visa versa. Like any, you’ll need to be cognizant of what your body is telling you and “try” things out… 🙂



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