When life hands you lemons what do you do? Please don't say, "Make lemonade." There are so many other uses for these citrus superstars that were regarded as healing agents by the ancient Egyptians. Lemons have been used for centuries to boost the immune system, help people lose weight, and much more. Here are 13 benefits these vitamin C–packed fruits have to offer.
• Stay Heart Healthy
One of lemons' secret weapons is vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that damage blood vessels and increase plaque build-up.1
• Eliminate Kidney Stones
Kidney stones form when your body is unable to break down the chemicals in your urinary tract. The citric acid that eating or drinking lemons provides is capable of breaking down existing stones you may have as well as prevent new ones from forming.2
• Breathe Easier
Vitamin C fights free radical–induced muscle contraction and airway constriction, as well as inflammation-induced histamines. Try starting each day with a warm glass of water mixed with a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of honey.3
• Clean Your Produce
Because lemons are so acidic, they are able to change the pH levels of water to create a solution that kills off bacteria by creating an inhospitable environment for them. Pour fresh squeezed lemon juice into a spray bottle and spritz it on your fruits and veggies to clean them before eating.4
• Soothe Your Sore Throat
The antibacterial qualities of lemons are able to help prevent infections in the throat. Simply gargle with lemon water at the first sign of sickness or a sore throat.5
• Regulate High Blood Pressure
Lemons are packed with potassium, which helps regulate high blood pressure. Add a hearty squeeze of lemon to your herbal tea on those stressful days.6
• Clean Your Liver
Have you been partying a lot? Your liver is great at removing toxins on its own, but narirutin, the chemical found in lemon peel, may reduce liver inflammation. Zest some lemon peel into your food or water, or supplement your diet with lemon extract.7
• Remove Dark Spots
Skin-lightening creams often contain citric acid. Use this knowledge to your advantage and the next time you see a dark spot on your skin, add some lemon to your skincare routine.8 Just make sure to finish your treatment with SPF moisturizer or sunscreen as lemons (and those creams) can make your skin more photosensitive.
• Disinfect Cuts and Scrapes
This is going to sting a little. Lemons have antiseptic and coagulating properties, giving them the ability to stop bleeding as well as cleanse the wound.9
• Highlight Your Hair
Want to lighten your hair this summer? Soak your hair in a 1/4 cup of lemon juice mixed with 3/4 cup water. Sit in the sun until your hair is completely dry. Repeat this every day for a week and you should have natural highlights.10
• Clean and Whiten Your Nails
Dirty nails? Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into one cup of warm water. Let your fingertips soak in the mixture for five minutes. Rub the lemon peel across the nails and you'll have one good-looking set of talons.11
• Exfoliate Your Skin
Mix the juice of a whole lemon with a cup of warm water. Lemons exfoliate and can help draw out blackheads if you dab a little lemon juice directly on the problem spot.11
• Eliminate Dandruff and Product Buildup
Massage two tablespoons of lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then, stir one teaspoon of lemon juice into one cup of water and rinse with it. Repeat this daily until your dandruff disappears. Lemons eliminate the buildup of hair products as well, leaving hair full, clean, and light.12Sources:
- Mateljan, G. (2007). The World's Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA. GMF Publishing.
- Penniston, Kristina L., et al. "Quantitative assessment of citric acid in lemon juice, lime juice, and commercially-available fruit juice products." Journal of Endourology 22.3 (2008): 567-570.
- Gavin, Ryan. Asthma Control: Your Legitimate Guide to Healing Asthma, Adopting the Best Asthma Diet, Finding Alternative Asthma Treatment and More With This Asthma Sourcebook. Tru Divine Publishing.
- Berger, Cedric N., et al. "Fresh fruit and vegetables as vehicles for the transmission of human pathogens." Environmental microbiology 12.9 (2010): 2385-2397.
- Bealin-Kelly, Francis Joseph David, Bernhard Hanke, and Paul Nienaber. "Throat soothing compositions." U.S. Patent No. 6,432,441. 13 Aug. 2002.
- Skrabal, F., T. Auböck, and H. Hortnagl. "Low sodium/high potassium diet for prevention of hypertension: probable mechanisms of action." The Lancet 318.8252 (1981): 895-900.
- Narirutin fraction from citrus peels attenuates alcoholic liver disease in mice: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23416143
- Qu, Di, et al. "Holistic composition and method for reducing skin pigmentation." U.S. Patent No. 7,429,391. 30 Sep. 2008.
- Konesni, Mandi. Mandi's Herbal Handbook. Mandi Konesni, 2010.
- Cox, Janice. Natural Beauty at Home, Revised Edition: More Than 200 Easy-to-Use Recipes for Body, Bath, and Hair. Holt Paperbacks, 2002.
- Moosbrugger, Patty. Lemon Magic: 200 Beauty and Household Uses for Lemons and Lemon Juice. Three Rivers Pr, 1999.
- Breedlove, Greta. Herbal Treatments for Healthy Hair. Storey Publishing, 1999.