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8 min read / 23 May 2024 / yasmin sharp

8 Benefits and Uses of Lemon Oil

Discover the versatile benefits and practical uses of lemon oil, from health remedies to everyday applications.


Lemons are one of the most popular fruits in the world and the essential oil extracted from its skin is renowned for providing a host of health benefits.

From combating bacteria to calming morning sickness, people continue to find new ways to incorporate it into their daily lives.

Over the years it has picked up monikers like “the fruit of health” and “liquid sunshine” with its bright and effervescent scent providing an instant dose of energy and positivity.

We decided to dig into what makes it so special by highlighting the benefits of lemon oil, some of the ways you can use it and how it has continued to evolve through the ages.

What is lemon oil?

Lemon essential oil, which is also known by its botanical name citrus limon, is extracted from the fruit by cold pressing the rind, rather than the mesocarp.

Whilst the origin of the lemon remains unknown, it is believed to have first been grown in either China, northeast India or northern Myanmar, before arriving in Europe near southern Italy during the second century AD.

The oil is pale yellow in colour, with a fresh, citrusy scent that is commonly associated with feelings of positivity, cleanliness and health.

You will also see it extensively used in beauty products, cleaning agents and pharmaceuticals for its appealing scent and varied health properties.

How does lemon oil work?

Lemon oil benefits are derived from a variety of compounds, with the likes of limonene, Pinene and terpineol being the most dominant.

Limonene has been shown to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in a host of scientific studies and is also responsible for the fruit’s distinct scent.  

The pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties provided by pinene can be extremely beneficial for health and wellness. Studies also suggest that it could aid memory and respiratory function and minimise the spread of bacteria.

Whilst the percentage of terpineol is much lower in comparison, the compound's ability to provide antioxidant and anti-nociceptive benefits are well worth mentioning.

What are the benefits of lemon oil?

The primary benefits of lemon essential oil suggest that it can:

1. Offer protection against some strains of bacteria

One of the most well-known benefits of lemon oil is its antibacterial properties that can prove to be very effective against certain bacterial strains.

In 2019, researchers found it was one of the most effective essential oils for combating various microbes and bacteria, mostly due to the presence of a compound called limonene. 

Limonene not only provides the oil’s antifungal and antimicrobial properties, which explains why lemon oil is so often included in homemade cleaning products, but it is also the source of the oil’s distinct citrusy scent.

Learn how to make your own homemade cleaning spray using lemon essential oil.

2. Help to ease acne symptoms

According to the findings of a 2018 in-vivo and in-vitro study, the limonene and monoterpene compounds found in lemon oil helped to reduce skin inflammation associated with acne. 

The oil works as both an antimicrobial and astringent agent, meaning it can tighten and shrink pores, whilst leaving the skin looking brighter.

Its astringent qualities work to shrink tissue around inflamed areas of skin, which can reduce the swelling, whilst the P.acnes bacteria is attacked by the limonene compound.

Before using lemon essential oil topically, it should always be diluted with a carrier oil and applied with a warm cloth, as this makes it safer and easier for the skin to absorb.

3. Ease symptoms of morning sickness

In recent years a growing number of pregnant people have begun to use lemon oil to combat morning sickness, as it is believed it can decrease or relieve the severity of symptoms.

A 2014 study involving 100 pregnant women found that compared to a placebo oil, the inhalation of lemon oil helped to relieve morning sickness symptoms to a greater degree.

This offers a natural method for pregnant people to combat nausea and vomiting during the early stages of pregnancy.

Research is still ongoing to understand the exact reason for this effect but the initial findings are certainly promising.

4. Combat stress and low mood

Like many other citrus oils, it is believed that lemon oil benefits the mind just as much as the body, with many people using it to combat periods of low mood and stress.

When cleaning your home with a lemon-scented product, you may notice that you feel more relaxed or in a better mood when you have finished.

This could simply be due to the satisfaction of cleaning your home, but the lemon scent also likely has a role to play.

Animal research has found that the inhalation of lemon essential oil may even be more beneficial in combating stress and anxiety than commonly used oils such as lavender.

5. Improve focus and concentration

In addition to its ability to boost and uplift your mood, lemon oil benefits may also extend to improving general levels of focus and concentration.

Two small studies carried out in 2006 and 2009 added some weight to these claims, with researchers finding that inhaling the oil helped to increase cognitive function.  

One of these studies even suggested that after inhaling lemon essential oil for a period of 28 days, people with dementia helped to improve the symptoms, suggesting that it could prove useful as a non-pharmacological therapy.

6. Promote wound healing

The antimicrobial benefits of lemon oil may also enable it to be included in your first aid kit to treat minor wounds, cuts and abrasions.

A 2016 animal trial focused on using the oil to treat mange infected tissue, finding that it was able to offer faster healing and recovery times.

You can try this by diluting lemon oil with a carrier oil of choice and applying it to a small scrape or cut with a warm cloth to sanitise the area.

This could help to prevent infection and possibly allow the wound to heal more quickly.

7. Ease and soothe a sore throat

Diffusing lemon essential oil around your home when you have a cold or sore throat could help to soothe and calm some of the symptoms.

Researchers used lemon oil as part of a wider COVID-19 study to see if certain essential oils could offer relief for the symptoms of a sore throat.

They concluded that inhaling the oil helped to alleviate a sore throat, whilst also reducing bodily fatigue.

Whilst they stated that further research is needed, they believed that lemon oil could potentially be used to calm these types of COVID-19 symptoms.

It is not safe to ingest any essential oil, so even when diluted you should not drink lemon oil or add it to any other beverage, as it can cause serious health complications due to its high concentration.

8. Offer mild pain relief

Lemon essential oil is considered to be a natural analgesic, meaning that it may be able to provide some level of pain relief.

The oil’s antidepressant and anti-stress properties could be the reason why it helps the body to remain calm when dealing with mild levels of pain.

This was highlighted in a 2014 mice study which demonstrated that using lemon oil aromatherapy was able to alter the way they react to painful stimuli.

Research into how similar lemon oil uses can affect humans is ongoing, so further studies are needed to understand how beneficial it can be.

How do you use lemon oil?

Some of the most common uses of lemon oil include as:

An aromatherapy treatment

Whether it’s for calming stress or helping morning sickness, the fresh and fragrant scent of lemon oil is a fantastic addition to any home.

Diffusing it around the office can also boost cognitive function, which could aid productivity.

Simply a few drops to a diffuser or oil burner or place some onto a handkerchief and inhale as and when you need.

A skincare lotion

The astringent and antibacterial properties of lemon essential oil make it ideal for use on the skin.

Not only can it help to cleanse pores but it can also tighten and refresh to create a more youthful effect.

Dilute with a carrier oil and apply using a warm cloth and let it naturally absorb to enjoy the full effects.

What is the history of lemon oil?

Lemons first appear in historical text as far back as 90 BC, where they are described as being thrown at a high priest during a festival in Jerusalem.

Their introduction to Southern Italy during the first century AD is the next notable entry in the history books.

The Greeks and Romans were firm believers in the healing powers of lemons, using them to resolve digestive issues. And almost a thousand years later the Royal Navy adopted them as a treatment for curing scurvy.

Whether inhaled or applied topically, the natural benefits of lemon oil have been documented throughout history, making it easy to understand why it remains one of the most versatile and popular oils around today.

Lemon Oil FAQs

What are the side effects of lemon oil?

Lemon essential oil is generally considered to be safe to use for most people. However, it is recognised as being phototoxic, so it is best applied in the evening when you will not come into contact with direct sunlight.

First time users of the oil should carry out a patch test to ensure that it is compatible with their skin type.

What oils blend well with lemon essential oil?

The bright and zesty scent of lemon oil is fresh and sharp and blends particularly well with other oils like orange, sandalwood, lavender, cinnamon and bergamot.

Is lemon oil the same as lemon juice?

Whilst the two may sound similar, there are some key differences between lemon essential oil and lemon juice.

Where the former is extracted from the rind of the fruit, the latter is obtained by squeezing the fruit.

More importantly, it is not safe to ingest lemon oil (or any essential oil) as it is highly concentrated, although it is safe to drink lemon juice.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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