Lemons have long been prized as an aid to health. Their healthgiving components include antiseptics, antifungals, antivirals, diuretics, astringents, tonics, antioxidants, detoxifiers, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines.
Traditional use, common sense and anecdotal evidence suggest that lemons can help many different ailments, but few scientific trials have been done because funding is problematic as lemons and their components cannot be patented.
Many people are now choosing to start their day with a cup of hot water and lemon, rather than reaching for the tea or coffee. This is said to aid digestion and kick-start the metabolism, as well as giving the body a boost of vitamin C.
The list of ailments in this chapter details how and why lemons can help, but don’t forget that you can also discourage common ailments with a healthy diet, adequate hydration, regular exercise, daily outdoor light, effective stress management, a sensible alcohol intake and no smoking.
When including lemon juice and zest in your diet, remember that you can take them in water, lemonade (see pages 32–3) or a wide variety of foods, including salad dressings, sauces, salsas, soups, casseroles, grills, cakes, breads and pies. You can also cook lemon slices with fish and roast the empty ‘shells’ of squeezed lemons with vegetables or meat, as cooking softens the rind.
Skin and hair
One possible cause is over-production of sebum caused by oversensitivity of sebaceous glands to testosterone. Others include changes in sebum, and unusually sticky hair-follicle cells. Triggers include the pre-menstrual fall in oestrogen, humidity, stress, certain drugs (for example, the progestogen- only Pill) and polycystic ovary syndrome. A reduction in the skin’s acidity may encourage infection with acne bacteria. Lemon juice may help because it kills acne bacteria, increases skin acidity, ‘cuts’ (emulsifies) skin oil and reduces inflammation.
Apply lemon juice with a cotton pad 2 or 3 times a day.
The most common are brown age freckles caused by normal ageing plus photo-ageing (accelerated ageing from sun exposure). Some people say lemon juice lightens age spots.
Apply lemon juice to the affected area each day, and the spots may begin to lighten within 6 weeks.
Heal from the inside out
Include the zest and juice of a lemon in your daily diet, as their antioxidants may delay age freckles and other signs of ageing of the skin.
Lemon juice can be soothing when the skin on the lips is dry and peeling (especially common in cold temperatures).
Stir a few drops of lemon juice into half a teaspoonful of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) or glycerine and smooth over your lips.
Lemon flavonoids can help the swelling and itching by reducing leakage of fluid from your capillaries (tiny blood vessels) into your skin.
Heal from the inside out
Include the juice and zest of a lemon in your daily diet.
Corns and calluses
Ill-fitting footwear is usually to blame. Soaking the hard skin regularly in lemon juice and water, or lemon essential oil, should soften and hasten its replacement with healthy skin.
Add the juice of two lemons to a basin of warm water and soak your feet for 10 minutes a day. Then rub the softened skin away.