Lemon (Nimbu) Benefits Uses And Side Effects

Lemon (Nimbu) Benefits Uses And Side Effects

Lemon is a well-known fruit in the family Rutaceae. There is probably no household unaware of the citrusy and refreshing taste of lemons. In fact, the mere mention of lemon elicits a sharp tangy flavour on the taste buds. Apart from its culinary use for the distinct flavour and aroma of the citrus family, lemon finds a great variety of uses in ayurveda and traditional medicine. Lemon water is traditionally used for its weight loss and detoxifying benefits. It is one of the best sources of Vitamin C in the citrus family, which makes it a panacea of anti-aging and immunity building properties.

Lemon is an evergreen tree that can grow up to a height of 6 meters. Lemon branches tend to spread and have thorns on them. New lemon leaves are generally reddish in shade and they grow in alternate fashion lemon branches. On maturity, these leaves turn dark green on one side and a lighter shade of green on the other side. Lemon flowers are whitish with a strong fragrance, they grow either alone or in clusters over the branches of the lemon tree. Lemon fruit is a berry that starts off green and turns to a bright shade of yellow on maturity.

Did you know?

Lemon, as we know it today, is actually a hybrid obtained from wild citrus species like mandarin and Citron. It was introduced into the United States of America by Christopher Columbus who took lemon seeds on his voyage in 1493.

Lemon (Nimbu) Benefits Uses And Side Effects

Some basic facts about lemon

Botanical name: Citrus limon

Family: Rutaceae

Common names: Lemon, Nimbu

Sanskrit name: Nimbuka

Parts used: Fruit

Native region and geographical distribution: Lemon is believed to be the native of India but it is widely cultivated in Mexico, Morocco, Japan, Greece, Algeria, Africa, Egypt etc.

Energetics: Cooling

  • Lemon nutrition facts
  • Lemon health benefits
  • How to use lemons
  • How much lemon to take in a day
  • Side effects of Lemon

Lemon nutrition facts

Nutritional value of raw lemon per 100 grams is as follows:

Particulars Quantity

Water 89 grams

Carbohydrate 9 grams

Fiber 2.8 grams

Protein 1 gram

Fats 0.3 grams

Vitamin C 53 milligrams

Energy: 29 Kcal

Lemon health benefits

Lemon is a wonder fruit with numerous health benefits. Most importantly, it is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Regular consumption of lemon wouldn’t just provide your body with essential antioxidants but it will also reduce the risk of Vitamin C deficiency disease aka scurvy. Let's discuss these benefits:

For weight loss: Lemon is most commonly used as a weight loss remedy along with honey and lukewarm water since it helps in eliminating fats from the body. However, the exact mechanism and effect is not completely known.

For immunity: Lemon is one of the best sources of vitamin C, which has immunomodulatory actions. Lemon aids in the relief of conditions like a cough and a cold and is additionally an antibiotic protecting you from infections.

As antioxidant for skin and hair: The presence of vitamin C also makes lemon an excellent antioxidant having several benefits for your skin and hair due to the reduction of oxidative damage. Not only does it remove fine lines and signs of ageing but also is an effective remedy for dark spots and pigmentation. Concerning hair, it reduces hair fall and greying while promoting the desired growth of hair due to an increase in collagen protein.

For anaemia: Since lemon is a rich source of vitamin C, it aids in iron absorption from food sources thereby preventing anaemia.

For the heart, liver and kidney: As an antioxidant, it promotes the health of these organs by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, preventing liver injuries and kidney stones.

  • Lemon for weight loss
  • Lemon as an antioxidant
  • Lemon for heart
  • Lemon as an antimicrobial
  • Lemon for anemia
  • Lemon for face and skin
  • Lemon for hair
  • Lemon for high blood pressure
  • Lemon for liver
  • Lemon for kidney stones
  • Lemon for immunity

Lemon for weight loss

Lemon is one of the most commonly used weight loss remedies. Traditionally, a mixture of lemon and honey is taken with lukewarm water to reduce body weight. Animal studies suggest that polyphenols present in lemon may be responsible for inhibiting weight gain.

A clinical study was done in Korea to test the effects of lemon detox diet (Lemon juice, maple syrup, and palm syrup) on total body weight. According to this study, the mentioned diet effectively reduces the amount of fat in the body. However, there are no clinical studies to confirm the exact effects of lemon or lemon juice in reducing body weight.

Lemon as an antioxidant

Lemon is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C which is a known antioxidant. At least two different studies suggest that lemon peel extracts are a rich source of antioxidant compounds. In vitro (lab-based) studies claim that lemon juice is rich in antioxidants. According to an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, eriodictyol, an antioxidant present in lemon is much more efficient than alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E).

Lemon for heart

Clinical studies suggest that regular consumption of fruits rich in Vitamin C are very beneficial for heart health. The antioxidant effects of Vitamin C help reduce fat oxidation and deposition in the arteries thus alleviating the risk of heart attacks and heart strokes. Furthermore, some animal studies claim that lemon oil and peel have potent hypolipidemic (reduces cholesterol) effects. Additional studies suggest that certain flavonoids present in lemon are useful in reducing body cholesterol level. Lower cholesterol levels go a long way in improving heart health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Lemon as an antimicrobial

Numerous studies have been done to test the antimicrobial potential of lemons. One such study suggests that lemon juice is more effective antimicrobial as compared to lemon extracts. It was claimed that lemon juice was highly efficient in killing common bacterial pathogens like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, and fungi like Candida albicans. A further study hints that the phytochemical (chemicals present in plants) rich methanolic extracts of lemon peels showed marked antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. 

Additionally, lemon extracts have also been reported to be efficient in inhibiting the growth of some other bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhimurium, and Enterococcus faecalis. However, all of this evidence comes from lab-based studies. There have been no clinical trials to test the efficiency, mechanism or action or dosage of lemon extracts in combating humans.

Lemon for anemia

The Vitamin C and citric acid content of lemons which can help improve iron absorption from food. In a clinical study including 4,358 people, dietary sources of Vitamin C have been directly associated with a rise in iron and hemoglobin levels in the blood. A further study suggests that citric acid may have some benefits in an easier iron uptake from food.

Lemon for face and skin

Lemon juice is probably one of the oldest home remedies for a bright and healthy looking skin. It is variously used in formulations with honey, rose water and sugar to make homemade toners, scrubs, and skin whitening solutions.

Studies suggest that lemon is an excellent antibacterial and antioxidant. These two properties can ward off the common skin problems like acne and freckles along with reducing dark spots, pigmentation, and premature ageing signs. It’s not too late to tell your grandma that she was right after all.

Lemon for hair

The antioxidant and antibacterial properties of lemons aren’t just limited to your skin and face but they are equally effective in maintaining and improving hair health. Traditionally, a mixture of lemon juice and coconut is used to promote hair growth.

Studies suggest that Vitamin C present in lemon helps increase the collagen content in the body, which is an important protein responsible for hair growth. Regular use of lemon would not only keep your scalp safe from infections but it also reduces hair greying and hair fall, leaving you with long healthy and shiny hair.

Lemon for high blood pressure

A number of studies suggest the possible hypotensive (lowers blood pressure) effect of lemon and lemon water.

A pilot study comprising of 5 high blood pressure patients was done to test the effects of lemon juice on a sudden rise in blood pressure. It was noted that all the patients showed a marked reduction in their blood pressures within thirty minutes. Additionally, it was suggested that the polyphenol content of lemon fruit is responsible for its hypotensive effects.

Another study on Japanese women claims that regular lemon intake is very useful in maintaining blood pressure levels in the body. According to a clinical study mentioned in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, administration of lemon juice lowers the systolic blood pressure in people with high BP problems. But, the same study suggested that the hypotensive effects may be due to the calm hospital environment instead of lemon.

More studies are needed to confirm the exact mechanism of action of lemon and lemon water on high blood pressure conditions.

Lemon for liver

In vivo (animal based) studies suggest that lemon juice can efficiently prevent liver injuries caused by alcohol. Being a citrus fruit, lemon is a good source of citric acid. Studies suggest that citric acid in a dose of 1-2g can alleviate the risk of liver damage caused by the free radicals in the body. It is further hinted that the hepatoprotective (protecting liver) effect of lemon may be attributed to its antioxidant properties. In the absence of human-based studies, it is best to talk to your doctor to know more about the benefits of lemon in maintaining good liver health.

Lemon for kidney stones

A study done in the US suggests that lemon juice is very beneficial in reducing the size of kidney stones in humans. 52 patients with kidney stone problem were given lemonade therapy for a period of 44 months. At the end of the designated period, a marked reduction was observed in all the patients who received lemonade therapy. However, more studies are still needed to evidence the reproducibility and exact mechanism of the citrauric (citric acid in urine) effects of lemons in the treatment of kidney stones.

Lemon for immunity

While there have been no studies to confirm the effect of lemon on our immune system, the vitamin C content of lemon can account for some immunomodulating (regulates immune system) benefits of lemon. Traditionally, lemon is considered to be very beneficial in warding off conditions of a cough and cold. Studies suggest that Vitamin C is an excellent stimulant for antibodies and phagocytic (immune system cells other than antibodies) cells in the body. Additionally, lemon is also found to be an excellent antibiotic. Thus, it may help fight a cough, common cold, and other common ailments.

How to use lemons

The most common use of lemon is in the form of a lemonade or lemon juice. Citrus is one of the much-loved flavours in the beverage industry. Most big brands have launched at least one variety of lemon flavoured drink. The zest (scrapings of the outermost colored skin of lemon) is widely used for its sour and bitter aftertaste in all kind of sweet and savory dishes including salads, dressings, cakes, pastries, and other confectionery. Whole lemons can be easily pickled to be used all year round.

Lemon peels can be dried under the sun or in your oven and made into a powder to be used in face and hair masks.

Lemon mixed with vinegar is known to be an excellent cleaner for your furniture and windows.

Aromatherapy experts love to use lemon essential oil for its refreshing and stimulating fragrance.

Lemon is also commercially available in the form of capsules and tablets.

How to make lemon water

Lemon water is one of the top detox remedies. Lemon juice taken with warm water on an empty stomach is known to be very useful for people who want to lose weight. Here is a quick recipe for making your own lemon water at home.

Take some lukewarm water in a jug.

Cut one lemon in four pieces and put it in the jug.

Let it sit for 25-30 min before drinking.

It is not necessary to throw in whole lemons, but adding lemon peels would give you the additional benefits of volatile oils present in the peels. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can just strain the juice of half a lemon in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it warm. You can also add flavours like ginger and honey to lemon water. Apart from being more favorable to the taste buds, it’ll also boost the health benefits of the drink.

How to make lemon oil

Lemon oil is prepared from the peel of lemons as the fruit itself is rich in moisture and would cause the oil to go slimy or moldy if kept for a long time. Though it is a lesser known recipe, lemon oil can be used for dressing your salads or you can use it to give a lemony flavour to any of your recipes. A  few drops of lemon oil can also be mixed with face masks or hair oil to get a refreshing glow. Lemon is a strong oil, it is preferable that you dilute it with another oil like olive oil or coconut oil to avoid any skin irritation. It is always advisable that you do a patch test first to avoid the chances of any allergic reactions to lemon or lemon oil. A patch test can easily be done by rubbing a very tiny amount of oil on your wrist or inside of the elbow. Do not use the oil if the applied area shows any signs of redness, rashes or swelling.

Here is an easy recipe for making lemon oil at home.

Peels off a few lemons (depending on the size of your jar) and remove any fruit piece attached to the peel.

Wash the peels to remove any dust or bacteria present on its surface.

Put the peels in a dry airtight jar and pour your oil till the jar fills to the brim.

Close and seal the jar and keep it for about 2-3 week in a cool and dry place.

You can strain the peels out of the jar or keep them in for a bit longer while taking your oil from the top.

Always remember to close the jar after taking the required oil.

Discard it immediately if you notice any slimy or moldy growth.

It is preferable that you use olive oil in this recipe as olive oil doesn’t have a strong scent of its own. But, if you prefer another oil you can use it too.

How much lemon to take in a day

The exact dosage of lemon would depend on the individual body type and physiological condition. If you are looking forward to taking lemon as a health supplement, it is best that you check in with your doctor first.

Side effects of Lemon

Direct application of lemon juice can irritate your skin. So, it’s best that you dilute lemon juice with some water or oil before applying it on the skin.

The citric acid content of lemon may have some corrosive effect on teeth. Always follow moderation when taking lemon water.

Lemon juice has been reported to cause acidity in some people. (Read more: Acidity causes)

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