Lemon Essential Oil: Benefits and Uses

lemon essential oil

Whether in a fresh pitcher of lemonade in the summer or pies in the winter, the fruit of the Citrus × limon has integrated itself into every aspect of our lives. The lemon fruit also contributes to some of the purest essential oil known to man. Here we will outline a short history of lemon and its uses, and dive in to the most beneficial substances created from the fruit: pure lemon essential oil. How can you harness the power of lemon essential oil in your daily life? Read on.

A History Of Lemon Use

It is a little known fact that lemon is actually an ancient hybrid plant. Originally a cross between the citron and pomelo, the lemon tree has since evolved as an independent species over centuries of use. Though native to India, references to the western use of this citrus fruit have been found as far back as first century Rome!

Lemon was officially brought to the western world in the year 1200 C.E., and like its cousin bergamot, was first cultivated in Italy. Since then, lemon has found its way into nearly every field, due in no small part to the amazing benefits of the fruit.

Lemons themselves are high in Vitamin C, folate, magnesium, copper and potassium. Lemon was often given to sailors to reduce scurvy and vitamin deficiencies.

Ever wonder where the ‘Lemon Fresh’ scented cleaners came from? The Low pH of lemon juice and compounds in the essential oil actually makes lemon antibacterial, and makes lemon a great cleaner and disinfectant. Add to that the fresh, crisp scent of lemon and there should be no wonder why it is an in-home favorite.

Oddly enough, lemon has found its way into both the skin care and food industries for the same reason. The high antioxidant potential, mixed with the antimicrobial compounds, make it a great food preserver as well as skin protector.

Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil packs the power of many lemons into one drop. Many of the constituents which are so beneficial in lemons are found in concentrated numbers in lemon essential oil.

Here is a breakdown of the main components in lemon essential oil as well as their benefits:

  • A-pinene- The substance responsible for most of the antibacterial and antifungal activity of lemon oil, a-pinene is a powerful terpene.
  • Camphene- A terpene that is similar to camphor, camphene has shown in studies that it can reduce cholesterol.
  • B-pinene- Another bioactive compound in lemon essential oil, b-pinene helps influence lemon essential oil’s antimicrobial activity.
  • Myrcene- A monoterpene found in volatile oils such as lemon, myrcene is partly responsible for lemon essential oils’ anti-asthmatic effects. It is also antiviral and antiseptic.
  • A-terpinene- Another monoterpene, A-terpinene is an antioxidant. It is partly responsible for the cancer fighting benefits of lemon essential oil, as well as the oil’s ability to reduce anxiety.
  • Linalool- An anti-inflammatory compound found in many essential oils, Linalool is considered a terpene alcohol.
  • Limonene- Perhaps the most common terpene in the world, Limonene is a component of almost every citrus essential oil. It aids in digestion, detoxification, and may help reduce cancer proliferation.

In The Body

As lemon essential oil enters into the body, these beneficial compounds go to work on a host of ailments. Working together with similar essential oils can also provide a synergistic effect.


Lemon essential oil acts to reduce gas and flatulence. When inhaled or diluted and applied topically to the abdomen, lemon essential oil effectively reduces digestive gasses.

Lemon essential oil may prove to be useful for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) research. The relaxing effect which Lemon essential oil has mimics certain types of drugs that are being studied for their possible use in the treatment of IBS. Non-conventional treatments such as traditional Chinese herbs and lemon essential oil may provide a natural alternative to chemical IBS treatments.


The high amount of a-pinene in lemon essential oil makes it a great way to aid in your anti-inflammatory remedies. A-pinene is a terpene which has been linked to possible use as an anti-osteoarthritic treatment. Lemon oil reduces inflammation upon entering the bloodstream, and has anti-inflammatory effects on chondrocytes; much the reason it is being studied for osteoarthritis.

Linalool is also present in Lemon essential oil. Linalool is an anti-inflammatory compound which has been studied to reduce inflammation quickly and stay in the bloodstream for an extended time.


Thanks to the terpene Camphene, lemon essential oil may help reduce cholesterol. In a recent study, subjects were exposed to camphene, and researchers found a reduction in both cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. The elimination of lipids in the blood is big news for the natural world.

Combined with its anti-inflammatory compounds, Lemon essential oil is one to add to your list of essential oils for heart health.


Ozone is a great thing to have outside of the earth. It protects the planet from the sun’s rays, and keeps all of the breathable air right where we need it. In the air we breathe, however, ozone is a contributing factor to pollution and acts to increase asthma related breathing problems. Monoterpenes like limonene and myrcene, found in lemon essential oil, can reduce breathing problems. Monoterpenes which build up in the lungs (as in aromatherapy treatment) can actually help eliminate the air pollutants as they enter the body.

Weight Loss

The scent of Lemon essential oil acts as a mild appetite suppressant. The main reason for this is due to the compound Limonene found in lemon oil. Limonene also decreases weight gain. Subjects who were exposed to an oil containing limonene showed an increase in weight lost without dietary changes. This can show promise in the field of drug induced weight gains.

For The Brain

If you have ever wafted an open bottle of lemon essential oil under your nose, you have likely experienced the instant calm and freshness that comes with every breath. When inhaled, lemon essential oil is picked up by the olfactory glands and carried into the brain. This can have many beneficial effects.

Anxiety and Stress Relief

For students, there is nothing more nerve wrecking than examinations. It is the same for anyone, really. The entire test taking environment seems to be made to make you sweat. Luckily, essential oils reduce test anxiety. When you inhale relaxing scents such as lemon essential oil, the feeling is more than skin deep. Participants who used aromatherapy during exam time showed a 20% reduction in anxiety indicators versus that of a control group.

Furthermore, the anti-stress effects of lemon essential oil have been shown multiple times. One study comparing essential oils found lemon essential oil reduces stress most effectively. The subjects showed reduced signs of stress and anxiety due to lemon essential oil’s ability to quicken key stress metabolizers.

This same relaxing effect makes lemon essential oil beneficial for cancer patients. The essential oil is used to reduce stress and anxiety in patients caused by various treatments such as chemotherapy; as well as increase feelings of general well-being.


Lemon essential oil‘s use for cancer may not be limited to Its relaxing effects though. A recent study highlighted the antioxidant capacity of lemon essential oil, finding that lemon essential oil has a high content of antioxidants. Researchers found that these antioxidants help reduce the growth of cancerous cells involved with cervical cancer. The presence of compounds like limonene makes lemon oil a possible chemopreventative against many types of cancer, including breast and colorectal cancer.

Improving cognitive function

As we age, words like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease start to carry some weight. As one in three seniors in the United States dies with Alzheimer’s, any treatment that works is highly welcomed. Luckily, lemon essential oil is part of a working natural treatment for dementia. Participants in this groundbreaking study were given aromatherapy sessions of rosemary oil and lemon oil in the morning, and orange oil and lavender oil at night. After a period of only 28 days, all patients showed significant improvement related to cognitive function.

There’s no reason to wait for dementia to show up to improve your cognitive abilities. A simple aromatherapy session using lemon essential oil can boost your short term memory and mental capacity no matter what age or health condition you are in.

On The Skin

As it has found its way into many soaps, fragrances, and body oils, it may be no wonder that lemon essential oil is great for your skin. It provides protection from various microbes and helps skin look and feel younger.


Compounds in lemon essential oil act as astringents, making the skin more firm and supple. The high amounts of antioxidants in lemon essential oil also make it an ideal way to leave skin looking healthier. There are many crèmes and oils which already use the power of lemon essential oil to substantiate their claims, and you can always make your own!

When using pure lemon essential oil, there is also the added benefit of protecting your skin against various bacteria and microbes. Make sure to wear sunblock when heading outside though, as lemon oil can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays.


Lemon essential oil works wonders against fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. The terpines a-pinene and b-pinene, both found heavily in lemon essential oil, work to kill fungal cells. The fresh lemony scent replaces the smell of foot odor, and the anti-bacterial compounds do away with the odors altogether.


Beneficial compounds in lemon oil make it very antibacterial. A study comparing essential oils found that lemon essential oil is antibacterial against strains like E. coli. Researchers were looking for ways to naturally preserve food agents such as apple juice, and lemon oil was among those successfully tested. This can be due to the high levels of a-pinene and linalool within the oil.

Around The House

Lemon oil actually boasts quite the list of benefits in your home as well. From laundry care to gum in the carpet, lemon oil has a few tricks up its sleeve.


Because of its antibacterial nature, lemon essential oil makes a great addition to cleaners. Simply adding a few drops to a spray bottle of purified water is enough to disinfect countertops after use.

Laundry Care

The same compounds which help to clean your oily face help pull oil from your clothes. Adding a couple drops to your laundry load can help break down stains and oil marks in every load.

Gum in the Carpet

It happens. Whether it is gum, stains, glue, even crayon on the wall; Lemon essential oil helps remove the signs of many household “accidents”. 2-3 drops massaged into the area can help lift and remove some of the toughest surface marks.

Odor Eater

Lemon essential oil can be combined with baking soda and used to remove odors around the house. Mix 2 drops with a spoonful of baking soda and use to scrub out your wastebasket. Place this same mixture down the sink once weekly for a clean smelling sink and garbage disposal. Pet bedding and shoes can especially benefit from a sprinkling of the mixture!

Lemon Essential Oil Recipes

Now that we know all of these benefits, you are sure to be itching to learn how to use your essential oils. With lemon essential oil, most all of the beneficial compounds enter the body through inhalation or skin absorption. As such, a variety of simple aromatherapy recipes can be used with Lemon essential oil. Below are just a few.

Stress Relief Aromatherapy

Brain Boosting Aromatherapy

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 5 drops cardamom essential oil
  • Add to a personal diffusor and diffuse as needed throughout the day. Alternatively, reduce each oil to two drops and use in an aromatherapy diffusor when you need a mental boost, such as while studying.

Anti-inflammatory Aromatherapy

Topical Recipes

Pore Cleansing Face Mask

  • 1 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 T raw honey
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Mix ingredients together and apply to face. Let sit for five minutes , and then wash with warm water and pat dry. Follow up with a moisturizing oil.

Anti-inflammatory Oil

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops ginger essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 oz coconut oil
  • Mix ingredients together and store in a lidded container. Apply to site of inflammation as needed, rubbing in well.

One Last Note

It should be noted that pure essential oils such as lemon oil are powerful, and should be used with care. The pure oil should always be diluted; pay attention to any reactions your body may have to it when applied on the skin. Children and pregnant women should use any essential oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.

The most important thing to consider when purchasing lemon oil is the purity of the product. Always look for pure essential oils. Pure oils are not only the most beneficial – they are the safest. Read more about pure essential oils and how they can positively affect your life.

We have only listed a few of the many recipes you can make using lemon essential oil. What is your favorite lemon oil recipe? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

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