When it comes to essential oils, lemon stands out from the crowd thanks to its wide range of uses and its affordability. Lemon oil is so versatile – it can replace an entire cupboard full of cleaning products, ease stress, anxiety and depression, improve energy and mental clarity, support your immune system, and provide a natural alternative to commercial spot, cold sore and wart treatments. So much goodness in a tiny bottle!
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the best uses and benefits of lemon essential oil.
1. Boost Energy
There’s nothing like taking a lemon-scented shower in the morning to help you shrug off sleep and leave you feeling invigorated and ready to face the day.
Most of the lemon scented shower gels you’ll find at the store use an artificial lemon fragrance, and while that fragrance can give you a little wake up shake, it’s no substitute for the effect that lemon essential oil has on your mind and on your body.
A growing number of health conscious people use lemon essential oil instead of caffeine loaded coffee to get them going in the morning. And if you need a post lunch or early evening pick-me-up (when caffeine is best avoided), lemon essential oil is the perfect solution.
- Add lemon essential oil to your shower gel.
- Use a lemon oil room spray (recipe below).
- Infuse lemon into the air with an aromatherapy diffuser.
- Sprinkle a couple of drops onto a tissue and inhale the aroma.
- Simply pop the cap on a bottle and breathe in deeply.
2. Brighten Mood
Researchers have found that lemon essential oil can increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. Low levels of dopamine are associated with depression and many types of addiction.
If you’re feeling low or struggling to give up alcohol, tobacco, sugar or other addictive substances, lemon essential oil could have a positive effect for you.
Lemon oil can also help you to focus and keep a clear head, so it’s a great oil to use if you have a heavy workload or a busy study schedule.
To use, diffuse lemon essential oil using an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser or oil burner, or sprinkle a few drops onto a tissue and inhale.
A nice way to benefit from essential oils when you’re out and about or sitting at work and unable to use a diffuser is to wear an aromatherapy pendant. These pendants feature an open design that lets the aroma of the oil slowly evaporate from the absorbent felt disc inside.
3. Relieve Morning Sickness
Suffering with morning sickness is one of the worst aspects of pregnancy. And ‘morning’ is really a misnomer because for many women the nausea and vomiting last all day long. Conventional medicine has little to offer to alleviate the problem, and doctors usually shrug and say it will pass in time.
While it’s true that morning sickness does disappear (for most women at least) by the 22nd week, that knowledge doesn’t help you get through those first few months when you have to show up for work, take care of other young children, or just pass for a vaguely functioning human being.
Some natural approaches can be helpful and lemon essential oil has proven to be an effective remedy. The benefits of using lemon essential oil to control nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are backed by a 2014 clinical study.
Researchers gave women suffering from morning sickness either lemon essential oil to inhale or a placebo (made from almond oil and carrots).
The women using lemon essential oil reported significant reduction of feelings of nausea and episodes of vomiting, and over the course of the trial there were no adverse effects due to the lemon essential oil.
Even if lemon essential oil doesn’t completely prevent morning sickness, any reduction in nausea and vomiting is something to welcome.
To use, inhale lemon essential oil as soon as you feel nauseous.
4. Fight Cold Sores
Lemon essential oil is a good antiviral, and it’s particularly effective against the herpes virus that causes cold sores.
You can use lemon essential oil on its own or you can combine it with other herpes fighting essential oils which include eucalyptus blue gum. lemon balm (melissa), tea tree, and bergamot.
To use, dilute the essential oil and apply to the blisters 3 or 4 times a day. For skin care use, steam distilled lemon essential oil is a safer choice than the cold pressed oil – see below.
5. Tackle Spots
Lemon is a fantastic essential oil to use on problem skin that’s prone to spots. Lemon cleans away the excess oil from your skin and gently removes the dead skin cells clogging up your pores. It’s antibacterial too, so by using lemon essential oil you can get rid of bacterial overgrowth and help to prevent future breakouts.
There is one downside to using lemon essential oil to treat spots though. Cold pressed lemon essential oil (like most other citrus essential oils) is phototoxic. This means that if your skin is exposed to sunlight, you can get a really nasty reaction – think long lasting blisters, swelling and redness.
Phototoxicity isn’t a problem when you add cold pressed lemon essential oils to soaps or shampoos because in these situations the oil is washed off and doesn’t stay on your skin. But to tackle spots, the oil needs longer to work, and the longer it’s on your skin, the more it will be absorbed, meaning that you can’t wash it off after use.
There are two ways to get around this problem. The first is to use a steam distilled lemon oil instead of the more common cold pressed version. Steam distilling only extracts the volatile compounds that can evaporate with the steam, whereas cold pressing extracts everything.
When you use cold pressed lemon essential oil, you get something called furanocoumarins (FCs) in your product, and it’s these FCs that react with the UVA in sunlight. Steam distilled lemon oil doesn’t contain FCs. No FC’s = no problem!
The other way to get around the phototoxicity problem is to use less of the cold pressed essential oil when you make your dilution and to use the oil in the evening so that you have a good 12 hours before your skin will be exposed to sunlight the following day.
To treat spots or greasy zones on your skin, dilute lemon essential oil in a light carrier oil like sunflower oil, rice bran oil, jojoba oil or argan oil. These oils won’t leave a greasy film on your skin, unlike heavier oils like olive or coconut.
Another way to use lemon essential oil in your skincare routine is to add it to your soap or shower gel, or if you use the steam distilled oil, you can add it to your regular moisturizing cream.
6. Support Your Immune System
Lemon essential oil stimulates production of white blood cells and encourages lymph movement, both of which are crucial for a healthy immune system. Lemon oil is also useful when you’re suffering from a cold or flu virus.
Use the diluted oil topically, or diffuse into the surrounding air whenever you immune system needs a boost.
7. Soothe Insect Bites
Keep lemon oil close to hand when summer rolls around and biting insects are out in force. If you get bitten or stung, mix a few drops of the steam distilled essential oil with a carrier oil or some moisturizer and rub it over the itchy spot. The lemon will help to relieve swelling and calm the itch.
8. Nix Warts and Verrucas
Warts and verrucas are another type of troublesome skin complaint and both have a viral cause. When used diligently, lemon essential oil can tackle the virus and remove the growth, but you’ll need to be persistent and use the oil every day for several weeks.
To use, paint the wart with diluted oil twice a day until the wart disappears.
9. Improve Digestion
Applying diluted lemon essential oil to your abdomen before eating can help to stimulate your digestive system and encourage your food to pass through more efficiently. If you suffer from trapped gas or heartburn on a regular basis, lemon essential oil could prevent these uncomfortable episodes from happening.
The limonene in lemon essential oil has also been shown to help reduce the buildup of fat in the liver which can lead to digestive problems and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
10. Make Gentle Shampoo
If you’re still using off-the-shelf shampoos, you’re missing out on some awesome natural hair care. It doesn’t matter how much pretty packaging and expensive advertising big brands use, the product in the bottle is still at its core a cheap detergent that damages hair – which is why you have to buy conditioner too.
One alternative to commercial shampoos is the No Poo Method which works wonderfully for many women. But, No Poo doesn’t suit everyone – some people find the idea of washing their hair with just water or water + vinegar/lemon juice totally unappealing. And if you use styling products, you really do need a shampoo to get rid of all of that gunky buildup.
By combining gentle Castile soap with essential oils, you can tailor-make a shampoo that suits your hair type and treats scalp conditions like dandruff, itching and flaking.
Lemon essential oil is great for greasy hair, it helps to combat dandruff and dry scalp, and it will leave your hair with a beautiful shine. Because lemon oil stimulates the scalp, it improves blood flow to your hair follicles, and that means healthier hair.
Making your own shampoo couldn’t be easier. You just need liquid Castile soap and your essential oils.
Castile soap is a pure soap (not chemical detergent) made from olive oil. If you want to get really hands-on you can make your own, or you can easily buy it from health food stores and online retailers.
- ½ cup liquid Castile soap
- ½ cup water
- 16 drops lemon essential oil
How to make:
- Add the soap, water and essential oil to a jug.
- Mix well and pour into an empty shampoo bottle.
Other essential oils you can use include:
- Eucalyptus – antiseptic and anti dandruff
- Rosemary – strengthens hair follicles, conditions hair and combats dandruff
- Ylang ylang – antiseptic, anti dandruff, stimulates hair follicles and smells amazing.
- Clary sage – great for all hair types. Anti dandruff.
- Lavender – balances scalp oils, soothes itchiness caused by dry scalp.
- Peppermint – stimulates scalp, combats dandruff, conditions dry hair.
11. Replace Household Cleaning Products
The benefits of lemon essential oil for household use are seemingly endless and it features in most of the natural cleaning recipes you’ll find online – and with good reason.
Lemon essential oil cuts grease, it kills bacteria, viruses and fungus, and it leaves a zingy fresh aroma behind.
Picture all of the various plastic bottles that live under your sink or in your laundry room. You’ve got dishwashing liquid, bleach, laundry detergent, kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner, window cleaner, air freshener, mildew spray, linen spray, furniture polish, and so on.
Those bottles contain who knows how many different noxious chemicals that can cause skin irritation, sore eyes and respiratory damage, and they score zero points when it comes to taking care of the environment.
If you replace those household cleaning products with natural solutions like essential oils, vinegar, baking soda and salt, you can get your home clean and fresh without wasting money, without affecting the health of your family and without harming mother nature.
Using essential oils like lemon when you clean your home has another big advantage over using conventional cleaning products.
Cleaning isn’t a whole lot of fun, and just the thought of getting on with the chores puts plenty of people in a bad mood before they even get started. As we’ve already seen, lemon essential oil can boost mood, so when you clean with this essential oil, there’s a good chance that you’ll feel more upbeat about tackling your to-do list.
To make a general household cleaner suitable for surfaces, floors and windows, you’ll need:
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 20 drops lemon essential oil (or mix of your choice)
Mix everything together in a spray bottle and it’s ready to use.
To make a linen spray or air freshener, you’ll need:
- 4 oz glass bottle with a fine mist spray top
- 1 ounce fresh water
- 2 tablespoons vodka
- 12 drops lemon essential oil (or combination of other fragrant oils)
Add the essential oils and vodka to the bottle and shake well to mix. Top up with water and pop the top on. Shake well before use.
Follow the shampoo recipe mentioned earlier to make a safe and effective dishwashing liquid.
12. Make Fresh Smelling Natural Furniture Polish
Wooden furniture buffs up beautifully when it’s treated to a natural polish made from oil, beeswax and lemon essential oil. Even neglected, dried out wooden pieces will get a new lease of life with this polish.
- 6 – 8 tablespoons olive oil (6 for a softer polish, 8 for a firm polish)
- 2 tablespoons beeswax (grated or pellets)
- 12 drops lemon essential oil (you could add some lavender oil too)
- heat safe bowl and a pan of simmering water – or your microwave
- pot to store
- Put the olive oil and the beeswax into the heat safe bowl. If you want to cut down on clean up, use your storage container as the mixing bowl.
- Pop the bowl into the pan of simmering water and leave just long enough for the beeswax to melt. OR, place the bowl into your microwave and heat on high for a few seconds.
- Add the essential oil and stir well.
- Transfer to storage pot and leave to cool.
The polish will solidify as it cools, and once it’s all set, you can get busy polishing. Apply with a cloth or with your fingertips, work into the wood then buff to a shine with a soft cloth.
This recipe makes approximately half a cup of polish which will go a long, long way.
13. Clean Silver Jewelry
Silver polish smells awful, and it’s not at all pleasant to use. Thankfully, lemon essential oil is a great tarnish remover, and that means you can throw your silver polish in the garbage can and switch to an all natural cleaner instead.
To use, take a clean cloth, add 6 to 8 drops of lemon oil and rub over your silver. Take a fresh cloth and buff to a shine.
14. Remove Sticky Residue
There’s a really easy way to remove the sticky stuff left behind when you peel stickers off ceramics, glass and wood.
Instead of rubbing away with a cloth for ages, picking at the gunk with your fingernails or resorting to abrasive pads or steel wool which might mark the finish on your item, you can just apply a couple of drops of lemon essential oil, leave it to penetrate the glue for a few minutes and then wipe it all away with a cloth.
Lemon oil will also make crayon marks on walls vanish!
How To Dilute Lemon Essential Oil
To avoid irritation or skin sensitization, essential oils should always be diluted.
A 2% dilution is the standard all-purpose aromatherapy dilution. This uses 12 drops of essential oil per ounce (30 ml) of carrier oil.
For children and the elderly, use a 1% dilution – 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
How To Store Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil, like most other citrus oils, has a short shelf life. While many essential oils will be perfectly fine to use 4 or 5 years after opening, lemon will only retain its beneficial properties for about 6 months. So unless you plan to use lots of this essential oil, purchase in smaller amounts to avoid waste.
Essential oils exposed to heat and light oxidize more rapidly than those kept in optimal conditions, and oxidized oils lose their therapeutic properties. Lemon oil has a very high percentage of limonene which is very prone to oxidation. Old, stale essential oils, won’t give you the results that you can expect from a fresh oil.
You can prolong lemon oil’s useful life if you keep it (and other essential oils) in your fridge. Lemon essential oil kept cool in this way will remain potent for 1 to 2 years.