We often take our sense of smell for granted. Without it, our sense of taste would be severely hampered. Memories are recalled with certain smells: cookies baking in Grandma’s kitchen, a family picnic at the beach, the perfume of a loved one, a high school locker room. We now know that the scents of certain plants translate to measurable physiologic response—hence the use of aromatherapy. (1)
The smell of lemons is fresh and tangy, reminiscent of the lemonade and lemon ice of summer. Fortunately for us in North America, we can get this bright yellow citrus all year from the tropics.
With its high vitamin C content, vitamins A and B complex, minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and powerful antioxidants, we are drawn to lemons for their look, smell, taste, and all the nutrition they provide.
Cutting lemons and leaving them in your room overnight will help alleviate breathing problems (asthma, colds or allergies). The following morning, your throat and air passages will feel clear and healthy.
Lemon Oil Works Even Better!
While putting lemons around your home or even growing your own lemon tree works, the effects can be enhanced by using lemon oil.
The essential oil of lemon has been found to have calming and soothing effects; just one whiff is enough to subdue anxiety, stress, and anger by virtue of the phytochemical limonene. (2)
Other benefits of lemon aromatherapy:
- Reduces nausea and vomiting (3)
- Improves cognitive performance (4)
- Eases and prevents asthma (5)
- Kills bacteria that cause staph, strep, and pneumonia (6)
- Eases bronchitis
- Freshens air without harsh chemicals that can cause respiratory and skin problems and hormone disruption
- Pain relief (7)
- Inhibits liver cancer growth
- Insect repellant
- Brightens and deodorizes laundry
Other uses of lemon essential oil:
- Clears dandruff and nourishes the scalp
- Soothes a sore throat by killing offending bacteria
- Cures yeast infection (8)
- Tones and clears skin (9)
Millions of people suffer from asthma, a respiratory ailment in which air passages in the lungs are chronically inflamed and even a slight irritant constricts air pathways, preventing adequate oxygen from getting in. Limonene is an exceptional ozone scavenger, attaching extra electrons to depleted ozone molecules. A study published in the journal Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry found that inhaling the limonene as found in lemons staunched asthma reaction and reduced inflammation. (10)
In 2008, a study published in the journal of Psychoeuroendocrinology found that not only are lemons a happy bright yellow but:
“Self-report and unobtrusive mood measures provided robust evidence that lemon oil reliably enhances positive mood compared to water and lavender regardless of expectancies or previous use of aromatherapy. Moreover, norepinephrine levels following the cold pressor remained elevated when subjects smelled lemon.” (11)
It’s all in your head.
Mood is dictated by hormones manufactured in the brain. We’ve already determined that aromas are directly linked to the brain. A 2014 Japanese study found the effects of inhaling lemon essential oil even more profound than eliciting memory:
“…the essential oil exhibited antioxidant activities as typified by ferric reducing property, Fe2+-chelation and radicals [DPPH, ABTS, OH, NO] scavenging abilities. The inhibition of AChE and BChE activities, inhibition of pro-oxidant induced lipid peroxidation and antioxidant activities could be possible mechanisms for the use of the essential oil in the management and prevention of oxidative stress-induced neurodegeneration.” (12)
The antioxidants in lemon oil are so potent that inhalation of it supports brain health by preventing cell and nerve damage, with implications for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. A Russian study the same year resulted in similar findings; the research extended to other organs and found similar protective effects of lemon oil on the liver. (13)
Further, lemon oil mixed with ginger extract has been found to reverse the damage of radiation on the spleen. (14)
It appears that what you breathe in is as important as breathing itself.