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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Lemon essential oil has a number of important uses in aromatherapy; lemon is one of the citrus oils and has powerful aromatic properties that have been used for centuries.

Traditional Use of Lemon

Lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil was traditionally popular in many parts of Europe, especially in Spain where it is known as a 'cure-all'; the Spanish used lemon primarily for fevers and infections.  Lemon was used to treat scurvy aboard English ships at sea; lemon has been also been employed in the treatment of malaria and typhoid.

Botanical Profile of Lemon

The lemon tree is a small, evergreen tree growing up to 20 feet high; it is thought that the lemon tree was native to India and introduced into Italy at the end of the fifth century.  The lemon is closely related to the lime (Citrus aurantifolia) and the bergamot (Citrus bergamia).

The lemon tree is found growing wild in the Mediterranean region, in particular Portugal and Spain; it is also cultivated worldwide, particularly in the American states of California and Florida.  There are thought to be about forty seven varieties of lemon developed in cultivation, such as the Java lemon (Citrus javanica).

Extraction of Lemon Essential Oil

The lemon tree has white fragrant flowers and serrated oval leaves; lemon fruit is yellow on ripening and can be as large as a dessert orange.  Lemon essential oil is obtained by the cold expression of the outer part of the fresh lemon peel. It can take up to 3,000 lemons to produce a kilo of lemon essential oil; lemon oil has a light, citrus aroma.

Use of Lemon Essential Oil in Aromatherapy

Lemon essential oil is anti-infectious, anti-viral, digestive, astringent, detoxifying, a tonic, antiseptic and anti-coagulant.  Lemon oil has the ability to stimulate white corpuscles which protect the body against infection.  Lemon is useful in the treatment of colds and flu as it is capable of reducing temperature, although proper medical advice should be sought for serious conditions.

Lemon is useful in the treatment of hypertension, varicose veins, circulation difficulties, digestive problems, warts and verrucas.  Lemon is also useful in skincare in the treatment of oily skin and to rejuvenate dull skin; it reputedly increases concentration and awareness and helps to eliminate emotional confusion.  Lemon is also thought to be an anti-depressant and anti-microbial. Lemon is a photosensitive oil which means exposure to sunlight should be avoided when using it, particularly in the first few hours after use.

Other Uses of Lemon

The peel and juice of lemon are used extensively in the kitchen in various recipes. Lemon is used as a flavoring agent in many pharmaceuticals; it is also used as a fragrance component in cosmetics, soap, toilet waters, perfumes and detergents.  Lemon is found in both soft and alcoholic drinks. 


- Caddy, Rosemary 1997 Essential Oils in Color UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd
- Davis, Patricia 1999 Aromatherapy An A-Z UK: Vermilion
- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils London: Element

This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Lemon Essential Oil

It is expressively prohibited to copy or use this article in any way unless written permission is given by the author Sharon Falsetto.  If it is discovered that copyright laws have not been complied with, legal action will be pursued by the author Sharon Falsetto.

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