Lemon essential oil is a completely natural ingredient that also serves as a home health remedy. It’s extracted from the peel of fresh lemons using a “cold-pressing” process that pricks and rotates the peel as oil is released.
Lemon essential oil can be diluted and applied topically to your skin, as well as diffused into the air and inhaled. Some people swear by lemon essential oil as an ingredient that fights exhaustion, helps with depression, clears your skin, kills harmful viruses and bacteria, and reduces inflammation.
In recent years, the medical literature has started to catch up with the claims made by people who have used lemon essential oil for years. Read on to learn more about the benefits of lemon essential oil, possible side effects of using it, and more.
You may have noticed that when you use lemon-scented products for cleaning your home, you feel more relaxed and in a better mood afterward.
Of course, some of that might be the natural result of sprucing up your environment, but the actual scent of lemons probably plays a part in that calming feeling.
A 2006 studyTrusted Source performed on mice showed that lemon essential oil was a powerful calming and mood-improving agent during three stress test experiments.
The same study concluded that lemon essential oil was more effective at relieving stress than other essential oils such as lavender and rose.
A small 2016 study found that lemon essential oil reduced anxiety among people after undergoing orthopedic surgery.
There are promising indicators that diffusing lemon essential oil has an effect on alleviating some symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Nausea and vomiting are two of the most common symptoms experienced in early pregnancy.
There may be reason to believe that lemon essential oil can relieve (or at least decrease) the severity of these symptoms.
In a 2014 studyTrusted Source of 100 pregnant women, aromatherapy with lemon essential oil was found to decrease the levels of nausea and vomiting significantly.
Lemon oil is one of several essential oils that can kill harmful bacteria that can grow on your skin.
In a recent studyTrusted Source, lemon essential oil was shown to be effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. This makes a good choice for topically cleaning small wounds.
Other research has confirmed lemon essential oil’s effect against infection causing bacteria and may prevent skin inflammation, including a laboratory study conducted in 2017 and in vitro and in vivo research in 2018.
It also has protective properties, such as antioxidants, that may brighten and preserve your skin tone.
Lemon essential oil is sometimes used in aromatherapy as a natural analgesic. The anti-stress and antidepressant effects of this oil may have something to do with how it helps our bodies interpret our pain without panicking.
A 2014 studyTrusted Source done on mice showed that lemon oil aromatherapy changed the way the animals’ brains responded to painful stimuli.
To determine how lemon oil affects humans who are in pain, more research is needed.
If you have a cold or are experiencing a sore throat, lemon essential oil is a good home remedy to try.
Try setting up a diffuser with lemon oil to release its sweet, tangy scent in your room while you get some rest. The calming properties of lemon oil can help relax both your mind and the muscles in your throat.
There isn’t a lot of clinical data that backs up lemon oil aromatherapy with calming the common cold, but we do know that the vitamin C and antioxidant properties of lemon juice are of benefit when you just need to breathe a little easier.
It’s possible that the properties of lemon essential oil work in much the same way when you treat a sore throat with aromatherapy.
Remember, it’s not safe to ingest essential oils.
Lemon essential oil perks up your mood, but it also may work to boost your brainpower.
In a small 2014 study of fourth graders, students who attended language lessons in a classroom where lemon oil was diffused performed much better on their exams.
Another small studyTrusted Source performed in 2008 concluded that aromatherapy with essential oils such as lemon could improve the cognitive function of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon oil is used for a variety of skin conditionsTrusted Source, including acne.
When diluted and applied topically, lemon essential oil can kill bacteria that may get trapped in pores and cause breakouts. It can also clarify your skin with antioxidants and vitamin C, gently exfoliating dead skin cells that so often become trapped in hair follicle and pores.
Since lemon oil has healing properties, you get the added bonus of speedier healing from breakouts and treatment of your acne scars when you use it.
Since lemon essential oil is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and antimicrobial properties, it might not surprise you to learn that this oil might belong in your first aid kit.
In an animal trial,Trusted Source lemon essential oil promoted faster healing of tissue infected with mange.
You can cleanse the area of a small cut or scrape with diluted lemon oil to sanitize it, discourage infection, and possibly help the wound heal more quickly.
Lemon essential oil has powerful antifungal properties for treating certain skin overgrowths. In fact, a 2017 review of studiesTrusted Source notes it’s effective against fungi that cause athlete’s foot, thrush, and yeast infections when applied topically.
Like the other essential oils in the citrus family, lemon essential oil is generally safe for topical and aromatherapy use. Notably, it’s reported to be safe for pregnant women and babies over three months old.
There are case reportsTrusted Source of lemon essential oil making your skin more sensitive to irritation from the sun so it is best to avoid direct sunlight when using any citrus essential oil.
This irritation is called phototoxicity, and it causes a temporary redness that looks similar to moderate sunburn. You may also feel a raw or burning sensation on your skin in the area where you’ve applied lemon oil.
You can usually avoid allergic reaction by properly diluting any essential oil you use and doing a patch test on your skin before you try to apply it to a larger area.
Lemon oil isn’t approved as safe for use on animals. Some essential oils can have a toxic effect when ingested or inhaled by pets. Think about your furry friends that might be nearby when you inhale aromatherapy.
You can safely use lemon essential oil by diffusing it or applying it topically.
To diffuse lemon essential oil, place three or four drops in the diffuser of your choice. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area, and limit your aromatherapy sessions to 30 minutes.
To use lemon essential oil topically, mix it well with a carrier oil of your choice.
Test the mixture on a small, inconspicuous area of your skin before you apply it somewhere sensitive, like your face. If after 24 hours you see redness or irritation, don’t use the mixture.
To avoid skin damage, make sure you wash off lemon oil before exposing your skin to sunlight.
Why are carrier oils important?
Topical lemon essential oil is safe to apply directly on your skin — if you use a carrier oil. Carrier oils are noncorrosive, less-concentrated oils that won’t harm the outer layer of your skin.
To dilute essential oils safely, add about 12 drops of your essential oil to every ounce of your base, or carrier oil. Popular carrier oils include almond oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil.
Essential oils aren’t food-grade products and aren’t tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety. Lemon essential oils contain unstable elements, which mean they can oxidize and eventually go bad.
For your own safety, avoid ingesting lemon essential oil or any essential oil.
Purchasing an essential oil can be a bit tricky. There are lots of brands that sell blended essential oil products that claim to be beneficial, but these products have several ingredients besides oils.
Look for oil that is cold-pressed and 100 percent pure. Check the ingredients list before you make an essential oil purchase.
Lemon essential oil is an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ingredient that can help you boost your mood, find mental clarity, reduce stress, and more.
Remember, just because a product is deemed “natural” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t carry possible side effects. Never apply lemon oil directly to your skin without a carrier oil, and never ingest any essential oil.
Essential oils aren’t a replacement for prescription treatments from your doctor, but they can work as a great complement to your regular health and wellness routine.