Distilled straight from the peels of fresh lemons, lemon essential oil is one of the most popular and versatile aromatherapy botanicals.
This energizing oil seems to offer a bounty of benefits, including a mood-boosting scent and skin-soothing properties. You can even use it to make chemical-free cleaning spray that leaves the house smelling fresh.
Let’s dive into the science of several potential lemon essential oil benefits, plus how to use it.
What are the benefits of lemon essential oil?
As with all essential oils, research is a little thin on the ground. Here are some possible benefits of lemon essential oil:
- Antibacterial properties
- Antifungal properties
- Wound healing
- Acne relief
- Mood boost
- Nausea relief
- Pain relief
- Cold symptom relief
- Energy boost
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Fans of lemon oil say it offers bushels of benefits for skin and general well-being. Let’s look at the science.
1. Preventing infection with antibacterial properties
Lemon essential oil might help prevent infection by warding off harmful bacteria.
A 2019 study found that lemon essential oil can tackle bacterial baddies like Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Earlier research from 2017 and 2018 back up these findings.
Results are promising, but more studies are needed to understand exactly how you could use lemon oil’s antibacterial properties to prevent sickness.
2. Clearing some fungal conditions
Yep, tea tree oil isn’t the only antifungal agent on the essential oil shelf.
A 2017 review found that lemon oil was effective against fungal conditions like athlete’s foot, thrush, and yeast infections.
And it doesn’t just work topically. In 2018, researchers diffused lemon and silver fir oils into the air of hospital rooms, then tested airborne bacteria and fungus levels. They discovered that a spritz of this dynamic duo reduced the concentration of airborne baddies by as much as 60 percent.
3. Speeding up wound healing
Lemon essential oil’s antimicrobial properties might help speed up wound healing.
A 2016 study on rabbits with a skin condition called mange found that applying lemon essential oil accelerated healing.
PSA: Always dilute lemon essential oil before applying it to small scrapes or cuts.
4. Reducing acne or other skin conditions
Lemon essential oil has been used for a wide range of skin conditions, from abscesses and boils to warts and wounds. Oh, and acne, of course.
This little elixir packs a triple threat against acne.
- Because of its antibacterial properties, diluted lemon essential oil can kill bacteria that would’ve triggered an unpleasant breakout.
- Because it’s an astringent, it can be used to clear away dead cells that can clog pores.
- Because it’s known to accelerate healing, it might help with post-breakout scarring.
However, lemon oil can be pretty potent and can irritate skin. Do a patch test with diluted oil before applying all over an active zit zone.
5. Easing anxiety and depression
Lemon oil’s fresh scent may lift your mood and promote feelings of relaxation.
A small 2008 study found that sniffing lemon oil improved participants’ moods and increased levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to decision-making and motivation.
Another 2016 study with 82 participants found that lemon essential oil effectively reduced anxiety levels following orthopedic surgery.
Bottom line: The research is slim and dated, but lemon essential oil seems to help dial down symptoms of anxiety and depression.
6. Quelling nausea
Whether you’re feeling sickly because of one too many drinks, early pregnancy, or something else entirely, lemon essential oil might help.
In a 2014 study of pregnant people, researchers found that lemon essential oil aromatherapy significantly decreased nausea and vomiting.
7. Reducing pain
Fans of lemon essential oil say that it works as a natural analgesic.
A 2014 study did find that lemon oil aromatherapy can alter how mice respond to pain. Of course, a mouse is not a person. We need more research to determine if lemon essential oil can ease human pain.
8. Relieving cold symptoms
If you’re losing the battle with a stuffy head and sore throat, some say lemon essential oil might be worth a shot.
You can diffuse the oil and use its calming properties to help you try to forget how terrible you feel. But that’s the extent of the science. There’s no real clinical data that says lemon oil aromatherapy will tame the common cold.
9. Boosting energy
With its invigorating scent, lemon essential oil might boost your energy and mood. It may also help your mental stamina!
A tiny 2005 study of 58 fourth graders found that those who completed language lessons in a lemony-infused classroom scored better than their peers.
Another small 2008 study found that aromatherapy with lemon could boost the cognitive function of folks with Alzheimer’s disease.
TBH, we need a lot more research to confirm these benefits. For now, at least the scent is zesty.
Lemon essential oil is considered generally safe for most people, including pregnant peeps and infants if it’s properly diluted.
There are a few potential issues to consider:
- Skin sensitivity. There’s some evidence that it could make skin more sensitive to the sun (aka photosensitivity) and cause temporary redness that resembles sunburn. If you’re using it topically, avoid direct sunlight.
- Allergic reaction. You should always dilute and do a patch test before applying a new essential oil to your skin. Even if it’s diluted, it can still cause a reaction.
- Toxicity for pets. Some essential oils are toxic for furry friends. Avoid topical application on a dog or cat — and check with the veterinarian before using aromatherapy around pets. And essential oils should always be used in a ventilated area regardless.
- Digestive woes. Never ingest essential oils. Just don’t.
Here are some ways to safely incorporate lemon essential oil into your day.
- Dilute with a carrier oil (like almond, jojoba, or coconut oil) and apply it topically to kill bacteria or help with wound healing.
- Add a few drops to an essential oil diffuser for an uplifting vibe.
- Sprinkle a few drops into a bowl of warm water and inhale the steam for a mood boost.
- Drip the oil onto a cotton ball or handkerchief, then inhale the scent when you’re feeling anxious or scattered.
- Shake a few drops into a spray bottle of water or vinegar to create a germ-busting cleaning product.
Tips for buying high quality lemon essential oil
- Buy oil in a dark glass bottle. Lemon essential oil’s volatile compounds don’t play nicely with plastic or sunshine. Always look for a product in a sealed, dark glass bottle.
- Read the label. Check the label for the common and Latin name of the plant, the plant parts used, how it was extracted, where it’s from, and how it was grown. The label should also state it contains 100% pure essential oil. If it says something like “fragrance oil,” the product is not a true essential oil.
- Read the reviews. Buy from well-known companies with a good reputation, quality products, and stellar reviews.
Wanna rediscover your zest for life? Try lemon essential oil. This aromatherapy option is known to uplift and energize.
Lemon essential oil may have other health-boosting properties too, like zapping bacteria, fungus, and nausea.
Although it isn’t a replacement for anything your doc prescribes, diluted lemon essential oil may be a beautiful aromatic addition to your wellness routine.