We all know that lemons are good for us, but do you really know WHY?

After harvesting yet another batch of wonderful Meyer lemons from my backyard trees, I decided it was time to explore the therapeutic and medicinal values of this important and versatile fruit. So here’s my contribution to your lemon knowledge:

The Therapeutic and Medicinal Values of Lemon:

Lemons are cooling, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic (prevents recurrent issues like infection, fever, malaria), antiscorbutic (for scurvy), astringent (tones/tightens - think ‘pucker’), carminative (prevents or helps expel gas), rubefacient (brings internal heat to the surface).

“Used internally, lemon has an anti-inflammatory action. It also helps cleanse the body by promoting perspiration and acting as a diuretic. Lemon stimulates the appetite, aids digestion, strengthens the body’s defenses, relieves cramps and generally refreshes. Used externally, lemon dilates blood vessels in the skin.” The Complete Guide to Natural Healing

Much of the praise for lemons comes from its Vitamin C content. Vitamin C can help decrease the free radicals in your body which cause smooth muscle contractions and airway constriction (think asthma); it breaks down histamine (think allergies) - people who have low levels of Vitamin C in their diet are as much as five times more likely to react to pollutants in the air; and it’s vital to a healthy immune system to help fight colds, flu and recurrent infections.

(An FYI on Vitamin C levels - you really can’t “overdo” on this vitamin. Your body has a built-in barometer and whatever it doesn’t need, you pee out!)

One average-sized lemon contains:

* 53 mg, or about 33%, of your daily Vitamin C need - other fruits/vegetables are higher on the list, such as: broccoli, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, oranges and strawberries

* 26 mg calcium - needed for strong bones and teeth - higher sources include: spinach, celery, asparagus, summer squash, yogurt, romaine lettuce

* 138 mg potassium - useful for proper nerve and muscle function, maintaining the proper electrolyte balance in your body, and keeping calcium at proper levels - higher sources: cauliflower, asparagus, turmeric, spinach, broccoli, winter squash

By itself lemon isn’t going to fulfill your daily vitamin/mineral requirement; however, enzymes and digestive juices are stimulated by lemon, thus enhancing the body’s absorption of iron and calcium. So lemon juice sprinkled on or added to various foods will enhance the assimilation and utilization of nutrients, and it makes a refreshing and cleansing addition to your daily water as well!

Lemons contain valuable bioflavonoids (antioxidants that protect Vitamin C in your body so it can be more readily used) that help strengthen the inner lining of blood vessels, especially veins and capillaries - useful for healing varicose veins and for people who bruise easily.

Even though a lemon is sour and very acidic (pH of 2, where neutral is 7.3-7.4), after ingesting it has an alkalizing effect in the body, and can actually help to reduce abnormally high hydrochloric acid levels (heartburn or acid reflux); a teaspoon of lemon juice in one-half glass of water can relive heartburn.

Caveat: don’t juice your lemon too early before using - the Vitamin C value decreases the longer the juice is exposed to air.

Lemon juice is a wonderful liver cleanser - it stirs up the toxic elements in your liver that aren’t able to be eliminated any other way; take the juice of one lemon in a glass of hot water one hour before breakfast every morning.

Caveat: Lemon (and other citric juices) can be stimulating, so if you are a really irritable, nervous, sensitive or highly toxic person, you should avoid citric juices and go for a vegetable juice/broth which is also cleansing, but sedating.

Some general remedies:

* To relieve asthma: take one tablespoon of lemon juice one hour before each meal.

* To relieve sunburn pain: gently apply diluted lemon juice with a cotton ball to the sunburned area, the juice will help to relieve pain.

* For arthritis pain relief: take one or two ounces of lemon juice diluted with water three times daily, one hour before meals, and at bedtime.

* Lemon juice can disinfect minor wounds or mouth lesions like canker sores. Apply diluted juice directly the wound, or gargle with it several times a day.

* Lemon juice massaged into the scalp can prevent hair loss.

* Lemon juice will remove or tone down freckles.

So now you know WHY lemons are so important - I hope you’ll work to incorporate this valuable food into your diet (if it’s appropriate for you).


Sources:

* Herbalpedia
* The Complete Guide to Natural Healing
* Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss
* The World’s Healthiest Foods, George Mateljan
* Foods That Heal, Bernard Jensen

Note: Information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent illness. Please be wise with your choices, consult your physician if you have any questions/concerns about your health.

 

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