Indian Lemon, a Delightful Summer Aroma

Indian Lemon, a Delightful Summer Aroma


            The lemon tree is a native of India.  Citrus limonum was brought to Europe in the twelfth century with returning Crusaders.  Today, it is cultivated in Sicily, Italy; Florida and California in the United States.  It is a member of the rue family of plants.  The tree reaches 15 to 17 feet in height, producing white blossoms, singly or in pairs.  It blossoms and produces fruit year round.  One tree yields 200 pounds of lemons, in varying degrees of ripeness, producing one pound of pure essential oil in a good year.  The essential oil is extracted from mostly green fruit rinds in a cold pressed process.  Modern extraction uses machines to express the oil and separates it in a centrifuge.  Originally, the skin was pressed by hand into a sponge, a very laborious process.

            The lemon tree traveled from Arabia to reach Sicily in the twelfth century.  The white, star-shaped flowers are named Zagara, the original Arab name.  Sicilians also cultivate citrus medica, a cultivar with deep green, thick-skinned lemons, much more sour than Citrus limonum.  The peel is commercially used to manufacture candied lemon peel, available at Christmas to make fruit cake and baked goods.  An essential oil of Citrus medica is expensive and rare, releasing a rich and fresh, fruity fragrance.  Both essential oils are best used within eight months of extraction.  Sicilian essential oil has a reputation for producing the finest essential oil.

            Locating unadulterated lemon oil is a delicate matter.  The highly aromatic lemon oil has a compound from an isopren added to produce the clean fresh smell, citral.  Citral is one of many components of natural lemon oil. It is synthetically manufactured, or produced from less expensive essential oils, such as lemon grass and litsea cubeba.  It is very easy to adulterate lemon essential oil.  Citral, from other sources, such as lemon grass and litsea cubeba, cannot be detected with gas chromatograph.

            Food grade lemon essential oil is separated from its natural wax by cooling the essential oil to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  The oil is commercially used in many foods, drinks and cosmetics.  Aroma therapists require all components of lemon oil present for therapeutic use.  True lemon oil has amazing properties when unaltered and organically grown.  The bulk of lemon and orange essential oils are produced from trees sprayed with pesticides.  Many aroma therapists prefer lemongrass and oils they can locate grown from organically treated plants.  For therapeutic use, locate lemon oil without citral and stabilizers to extend shelf life added.

            Lemon essential oil stimulates mental abilities.  The aroma activates the center of the hippocampus of the brain, enhancing memorization and reducing confusion.  Japanese researchers reported 54 percent enhanced typing skills when lemon oil was dispersed into the room.  Communication and intellectual skills are definitely improved with the use of lemon oil.

            Lemon oil’s antibacterial properties are impressive.  When released into the air, the volatile oils kill typhus germs in a hour, pneumonia bacterials within four hours and staph in five minutes.  It is very useful when combating multi strains of staph  Effective antiseptic agents remain active up to twenty days airborne.  It is used in hospital rooms and schools in Europe, dispersed in a diffuser.

            The oil is also an immune stimulant, activating white blood cells.  It can be used to reduce colds, flus, sore throats and fevers.  The aroma may be used in an aroma lamp or diffuser, or combined with other essential oils in a dilution.

Antiseptic Immune Stimulant


            In one ounce of carrier oil, add the following essential oils:

                        2 drops of Citrus limonum

                        1 drop of Angelica root

                        5 drops of Hyssop, Hyssopus officianalas

            Bottle in dark glass with a tight fitting screw cap.  Allow to cure three hours or overnight.  Apply one or two drops on the chest and/or throat.  Massage lightly.  Application may be repeated three times for seven days, or one time for twenty-one days.  Refrigerate leftover blend daily.


For Asthma and Bronchitis


            In one ounce of carrier oil, add the following essential oils:

                          2 drops of Citrus limonum

                        10 drops of Lavendula

                           5 drops of Roman chamomile

            Bottle in dark glass with a tight fitting screw cap.  Allow to cure three hours or overnight.  Massage five to seven drops on the chest or upper back one to three times daily.  The blend may be used as a preventative once daily or weekly.  Refrigerate leftovers daily.


For Insect Bites and Itchy Skin 


            In one quart, four cups, of distilled water, add 2 drops of lemon oil.  Bathe the bites or itchy skin once or twice daily until symptoms disappear.  This should prevent insect bites from swelling and becoming infected.

            In Europe, lemon oil is combined with *Queen of the Meadow essential oil and diffused into a room to reduce uric acid levels and gout, as well as rheumatic complaints.  Rheumatism is joint and muscle pain, of varying origins, that may travel to different parts of the body.  A health practitioner should monitor these conditions, as well as dietary modifications that reduce acidic conditions.

            A drop of lemon oil can be added to two ounces of unscented shampoo to reduce oil conditions of the hair.  To reduce oily skin, acne and eruptions, add 1 drop of lemon oil to distilled water and mist the affected skin morning and night.


*Queen of the Meadow


            *Queen of the Meadow, Spirea ulmaria, is a member of the rose family.  The essential oil is distilled from the flowering plant and roots.  High salicylic acid content helps dissolve uric acid, making it an excellent oil for rheumatism and gout.  The oil prevents inflammation, opens blood vessels and removes restrictions.  It is also used in massage for cellulite.

            Lemon essential oil is phototoxic.  Exposure of skin to sunlight or tanning beds should be limited to 12 hours after application of more than 2% of lemon oil in a blend.  A few drops of the oil in a one ounce blend or dilution is safe for topical application.  I do not use lemon oil topically on children under ten years old.  Sensitivity and reactions can occur in rare instances.  Aerial diffusion in a room does not cause sun sensitivity, only topical use.  It is best to test a blend on a non sensitive area of skin, when used topically, to be sure there is no sensitivity to lemon oil.

Reference:  Essential Oil Safety, Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs, 1995.