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Citrus limon

Citrus limon

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Lemon oil, lemon zest

Original Habitat

This evergreen shrub thrives in warm, moist weather and grows to be about 3 metres tall. It has leaves as well as flowers year round. The fruit of this tree is known for its strong acidic flavour. It is common in the Mediterranean and in warmer areas of the United States such as California or Florida.

Plant Part Used

Zest (thin outer layer of the skin)


Lemon oil is used in the food and beverage industry as a flavouring. It is also found in some cough medicines and skin care products. It is used in the fragrance industry for its fresh scent and is used in a variety of therapeutic aromatherapy products, typically in formulations. 


Citrus skin oils are obtained by pressing, with cold pressing being the preferred method used.[1] The thin oil is a yellow-orange to yellow-green colour with an aroma that reflects the lemon skin scent and top note. The aroma of the essential oil lasts until the oil is completely evaporated.

Chemical Constituents

Monoterpenes: Limonene (55-70%)
Coumarines and furocoumarines (> 1.5%).[2][3][4][5]

Medicinal Uses

Antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral +++
Lipolytic +++
Antithrombic ++
Stomachic (stimulates gastric action) + [6][7][8][9]

Antianxiety: In an animal study, researchers examined essential oils against stress test induced anxiety in mice. Rose, lavender, and lemon essential oils were used. The results showed that essential oil of lemon showed the strongest antianxiety effects in the mice. Furthermore, researchers found antidepressive like effects as well.[10]

Antioxidant Properties: C. limonum oil has been found in analytical studies to possess antioxidant properties.[11][12][13] These antioxidant properties have been studied in regard to preventing oxidation of the surface layer of skin [14] thereby providing a novel skin antiaging treatment.[15]

Pain: In an animal model, researcher found that rats receiving continuous pain stimulation, demonstrated a lower pain response when inhaling C. limonum oil.[16]

Traditional Use

During contagious illness ++
Air disinfectant +++
Blood deficiencies, phlebitis ++
Slight digestive and hepatic deficiencies ++
Lithiasis and nephritic colic ++ [6][16]

Contraindications and Precautions

Not for cutaneous application, because of its dermo-agressivity and photosensitivity. In fact, numerous animal studies have indicated that undiluted citrus oils have been found to cause tumours on the skin at the site of application.[17]

A study of perfume factory workers showed that allergic contact dermatitis could be caused by lemon essential oil.[18] This allergic response is thought to be due to the auto-oxidation of limonene when exposed to air as limonene that has not oxidized does not seem to produce the allergic response. [19]

Citrus limon essential oil can have phototoxic effects when cold pressed but does not appear to have the same effect when distilled, considered an inferior method of extraction.[20] The phototoxic effects are thought to be the effect of various furanocoumarins.[21]



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


  1. Bauer K, Garbe D, Surburg H. Common fragrance and flavor materials: preparation, properties and uses. Germany: Wiley VCH; 1997.
  2. Chandra C, Jasim U, Yusuf M, Nandi N. Chemical constituents of the leaf and peel oil of Citrus limon (L.) burm. from Bangladesh. Essential Oil Association of India: Indian Perfumer. 2007;51(4):19-21.
  3. Kirbaslar SI, Boz I, Kirbaslar FG. Composition of Turkish lemon and grapefruit peel oils. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 2006;18(5):525-543.
  4. Lota M, de Serra D, Tomi F, Jacquemond C, Casanova J. Volatile components of peel and leaf oils of lemon and lime species. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2002;50(4):796-805.
  5. Kekelidze NA, Dzhanikashvili MI, Rusadze LV, Kachurina AP. Dynamics of the accumulation of monoterpenoids in Citrus limon. Khimiya Prirodnykh Soedinenii. 1985;(6):784-787.
  6. Schnaubelt K PhD. Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy. VT: Healing Arts Press; 1995.
  7. Choi HS. Lipolytic effects of citrus peel oils and their components. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006;54(9):3254-3258.
  8. Dhar P, Snyder LT, Torgerson E. Extraction and evaluation of the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of the essential oils obtained from Citrus limon and citrus sinensis. Abstracts of Papers, 224th ACS National Meeting, Boston, MA, United States, August 18-22, 2002 (2002), CHED-180 Publisher: American Chemical Society, Washington, D. C.
  9. Nannapaneni R, Muthaiyan A, Crandall PG, Johnson MG, O'Bryan CA, Chalova VI, Callaway TR, Carroll JA, Arthington JD, Nisbet DJ, Ricke SC. Antimicrobial activity of commercial citrus-based natural extracts against Escherichia coli O157:H7 isolates and mutant strains. Foodborne Pathog Dis. Oct2008;5(5):695-699.
  10. Komiya M. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behav Brain Res. 25 Sep2006;172(2):240-249.
  11. Dhar P, Snyder LT, Torgerson E. Extraction and evaluation of the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of the essential oils obtained from Citrus limon and citrus sinensis. Washington DC: American Chemical Society; August2002;18-22.
  12. Song H, Keda H, Sawamura M. Antioxidative activities of citrus peel essential oils and their components against linoleic acid oxidation. Food Science and Technology Research. 2001;7(1):50-56.
  13. Grassmann J, Schneider D, Weiser D, Elstner EF. Antioxidative effects of lemon oil and its components on copper induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein. Arzneimittelforschung. Oct2001;51(10):799-805.
  14. Calabrese V, Scapagnini G, Randazzo SD, Randazzo G, Catalano C, Geraci G, Morganti P. Oxidative
  15. stress and antioxidants at skin biosurface: a novel antioxidant from lemon oil capable of inhibiting oxidative damage to the skin. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1999;25(6):281-287.
  16. Calabrese V, Randazzo SD, Catalano C, Rizza V. Biochemical studies on a novel antioxidant from lemon oil and its biotechnological application in cosmetic dermatology. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1999;25(5):219-225.
  17. Aloisi AM, Ceccarelli I, Masi F, Scaramuzzino A. Effects of the essential oil from citrus lemon in male and female rats exposed to a persistent painful stimulation. Behav Brain Res. 17 Oct2002;136(1):127-135.
  18. Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential Oil Safety. Churchill Livingston Press; 2006.
  19. Schubert HJ. Skin diseases in workers at a perfume factory. Contact Dermatitis. Aug2006;55(2):81-83.
  20. Bråred CJ, Forsström P, Wennberg AM, Karlberg AT, Matura M. Air oxidation increases skin irritation from fragrance terpenes. Contact Dermatitis. Jan2009;60(1):32-40.
  21. Tisserand R. Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Scotland: Churchill Livingston; 1995.

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