Lemon essential oil is a combination of several individual components that work together to give the oil its individual properties. Alone, these components will not have the same effect as when they are combined in the oil. Lemon essential oil is mainly composed of a-pinene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-terpene, linalool, b-bisabolene, limonene, trans-a-bergamotene, nerol and neral. Here is an explanation of the more common components and how they give lemon oil its healing and aromatherapy characteristics.
This organic compound is a member of the terpene class. It is found in many oils that are produced by evergreen trees, including the lemon tree. It is a bronchodilator in humans, meaning that it helps to open the airways and decrease resistance in the airflow to the lungs. Lemon oil is often recommended for use during a cold, where breathing can become labored. It may also be effective in preventing asthma symptoms when applied to the neck and chest. While there are limited studies surrounding specifically lemon oil, a-pinene may help with more serious lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A-pinene is also anti-inflammatory which helps lemon oil to prevent swelling when applied after a bug bite or sting. This compound also exhibits activity as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor that aids in memory function. Lemon oil has been shown in studies to help improve cognitive function in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. A-pinene is also classified as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, helping lemon oil fight off a wide range of disease-causing bacteria.
Nerol is a monoterpene that has a rose-like aroma. It is often used in perfumes but it is also one of the main compounds that give lemon oil its famous and familiar smell. Lemon oil can be diffused throughout a room to fill the room with its fragrance, thanks to nerol. This fragrance can calm the mind and soul almost instantly.
Myrcene is an organic compound that is classified as a hydrocarbon. It is minimal in lemon oil but still aids in the oil’s pleasant scent. Myrcene is often used in the fragrance industry. Is has an analgesic effect, which is why lemon oil can soothe wounds, especially bee stings. Myrcene also has anti-inflammatory properties, helping lemon oil to reduce swelling when applied topically.
Neral is another chemical component that adds to lemon oil’s familiar scent.
This chemical component is classified as a terpene and smells quite a bit like oranges. It is a common ingredient in cosmetics and is often added to cleaning products because of its refreshing scent. While studies are inconclusive at the time, there is evidence to support that limonene may be an achemopreventive agent, meaning that it may help individuals with immune system disorders to effectively prevent bacterial infections.
More exciting than the prevention of infection is the possibility that limonene may help prevent cancer. Studies conducted in the 1990s showed that this just might be the case with this component. Specifically, the studies showed that it may stop the growth of tumors and possibly prevent breast cancer all together. A 2012 study showed that mice that were treated with limonene were possibly protected from skin cancer because of reduced inflammation. A study from the same year showed the possibility that limonene might fight colon cancer. When added to human cells, apoptosis was induced by the limonene, causing the cancer cells to self-destruct. Limonene is not being used to treat cancer at this time but if studies continue to produce promising results, it may be a common treatment in the future.
Studies also show that limonene may aid in the treatment of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux by neutralizing gastric acid and promoting the normal contraction of the digestive tract muscles. Limonene is also very effective in eliminating stress, helping lemon oil to be one of the best oils for mental health.
Terpinenes are a group of isomeric hydrocarbons. A-terpinene is a chemical that is used by the cosmetics and food industries in perfumes and for flavoring. It is responsible for the scent, flavor and color of lemon oil.
This naturally occurring terpene alcohol is found in lemon oil and provides a pleasant floral scent. It is often used in soaps, detergents, shampoos and lotion. In a study conducted by the University of Tokyo, linalool was shown to reduce stress in lab rats. The published study showed that after inhaling linalool, stress levels were reduced to near normal and the activity of more than a hundred genes that “go into overdrive” in stressful situations were reduced significantly. This compound may be the reason that lemon oil is often used to treat anxiety, stress and depression.
This compound has anti-inflammatory agents. Inflation can be caused by trauma, infection by pathogens and even stress. Lemon oil has the ability to combat certain inflammations, including Tonsillitis, by mixing lemon oil with some water and sea salt and gargling with it. B-bisabolene is part of the reason that this treatment helps.
Lemon is often included in fish and chicken dishes, either as an ingredient in a marinade or by itself. The fruit contains over half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. This important vitamin helps prevent high blood pressure by protecting levels of nitric oxide in the body. It also promotes healthy teeth and gums, which is why it was so effective in preventing scurvy before anyone knew what vitamin C was. It also helps the body absorb iron, helps maintain connective tissues and promotes healthy wound healing It also helps aid the body’s immune system, which is why so many people take vitamin C to help fight the common cold.
One Average Lemon:
Total Fat: 0.2g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g
Total Carbohydrate: 5.4g
Dietary Fiber 1.6g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin D: 0%
Vitamin C: 51%