Lemon Essential Oil: 12 Benefits and Uses

Lemon essential oil conjures up visions of summertime and fresh, sunny days that are not too far away as we approach the first day of Spring! While lemon is great for margaritas and lemonade, the essential oil it produces is jam-packed with benefits.

Consider this your all-inclusive guide to all things lemon essential oil! We’ll start by discussing what components of lemon essential oil make it so powerful, then share some of the benefits and uses for lemon essential oil. We’ll finish by sharing a few top-rated lemon essential oil brands that you can try out at home as well as how to make your lemon oil. Additionally, we will answer some common questions about this essential oil.  

This sour fruit has some sweet benefits for our health, read on to find out everything that lemon essential oil can do for you!

About Lemon Essential Oil

You might have used lemon essential oil as a natural disinfectant if you are an essential oil enthusiast or used lemon essential oil in a recipe. This oil is excellent for more than just disinfection or flavoring, though, there are many ways in which lemon essential oil can be leveraged in our daily lives.

Chemical Compostion

Some of the most significant chemical compounds of lemon essential oil that provide its effective uses are a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-terpinene, linalool, b-bisabolene, limonene, trans-a-bergamotene, nerol, and neral. For those of us who don’t speak chemistry, we’ll lay out what some of these chemicals are and what they do for us.


A-pinene in different plants and fruits has a rich history of usage dating back to the times of ancient aboriginals who used a-pinene-filled resins to treat open wounds. A-pinene is considered a “terpene.” This chemical compound has a slightly woody scent and has several proven benefits congruent with the benefits we see from lemon essential oil. A-pinene has been shown to kill Pancreatic cancer cells in mice, kill bacteria like Staph and Strep, boost memory in dementia patients in conjunction with other chemicals, and more. Needless to say, alpha-pinene is a massive contributor to lemon essential oil’s power.


Limonene is a chemical compound that is a lot of citrus fruits. You can even impress your friends with your chemistry knowledge by sharing that limonene is cyclic monoterpene that is used in fragrance and food flavoring! Not only does this chemical compound smell pleasant, but it also has proven antimicrobial activity. In one study, limonene reduced the growth of bacteria and fungus in a petri dish, which is a promising indicator that this chemical compound can have this effect in humans as well. The chemical compounds in lemon are anti-microbial, which is why lemon essential oil is commonly used as part of a disinfectant.


Like alpha-pinene, beta-pinene is a monoterpene, which is just an organic compound that occurs in plants like limes. You may have heard the word “terpene” before when referencing cannabis. The reason is that the terpenoid compounds in cannabis are similar to those in essential oils – they’re both plants after all! Terpenes not only give cannabis (and all essential oils) their unique scents, they also produce medicinal effects.

Lime Versus Lemon

Lime is no different. The monoterpene beta-pinene gives lime its woodsy type scent and also is part of what makes it into a bacteria killer! In one study, beta-pinene was shown to have an inhibitory effect on the growth of bacteria when tested against a popular antibacterial drug.

All of the chemical compounds inside lemon essential oil offer benefits, but these are some of the most significant compounds found inside of this fantastic oil.

A Brief History of Lemon Essential Oil

Grapefruit, Limes, Oranges, Citrus

It turns out a lemon might not even be its species of fruit! While some scientists acknowledge lemons to be their own species, some more recent studies argue that lemons are just a hybrid. As its own species, it is considered Citrus limon, but it may also be a hybrid of pomelo, citron, and mandarin citrus fruits.

The precise origin of the lemon is unknown, but some botanists believe that it came from Kashmir (northern India), while others believe it originated in Southeast Asia. Lastly, some still consider it to be from Iran or even Italy. Researchers know that the first place that the lemon trees showed up in the United States was Florida after the expeditions of Christopher Columbus to the New World. Lemons were likely used by explorers to prevent scurvy because of their high Vitamin C and antioxidant content.

Soon after lemons were introduced to the New World, they began to spread across Florida, parts of South Carolina, and even California eventually began to see lemon trees. Several freezes stunted the spread of the lemon tree, but the industry was revived in the mid-1950s as the demand for cold-pressed lemon oil and lemon concentrate grew.

Lemon, as we know it today, has a wide range of uses that are not just limited to cooking or cleaning that we will get into below.

Health Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil

May Help Reduce Nausea

Lemon essential oil used in aromatherapy is generally considered to be a great way to relieve nausea, heartburn, indigestion, and upset stomach symptoms.

Lemon essential oil’s anti-nausea powers were put to the test with a group of women experiencing morning sickness in a 2014 study. The findings indicated that a higher percentage of women who were instructed to inhale lemon essential oil experienced reduced nausea symptoms in comparison with the women who inhaled the placebo. While the percentage improvement is only statistically significant, further testing is needed to prove that lemon essential oil is truly effective against nausea and morning sickness.

Give lemon essential oil a try the next time you are feeling nauseous by diffusing a few drops or smelling it directly out of the bottle.

May Support the Digestive System

In addition to reducing nausea, lemon essential oil can help reduce gas and help with constipation. Although this claim is from a few different websites on essential oils, there is no included scientific research to back it up. Lemon essential oil is generally considered safe for consumption, so you are probably okay to include it in your diet and see how it helps you!

You can add a drop of lemon essential oil to a glass of water to enjoy the benefits of this oil and also get a tasty glass of lemon water! You can also combine lemon essential oil with a carrier oil and massage it into your stomach, but the results of either of these applications are unproven.

May Reduce Stress

Stressed Business Woman 2Cnhtmk E1575999755358 - Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil can remind people of bright and cheery things like warm weather. Something that others might not know is that taking a whiff of lemon essential oil may also reduce physiological signs of stress!

One study compared lavender essential oil, lemon essential oil, and water as scents that could potentially reduce stress. Participants in each group were asked to smell lavender essential oil, lemon essential oil, or water. Then various vital signs were measured to determine quantitatively whether these oils had the potential to reduce stress. While the lemon essential oil group still had higher levels of the stress hormone called norepinephrine, they reported a more positive mood and showed other signs of reduced stress.

Try diffusing a few drops of lavender and a few drops of lemon essential oil in your workplace and observe how these oils affect your mood throughout the day!

May Treat Skin Conditions

Because of those fantastic terpenes that we touched on above, lemon essential oil is blessed with antimicrobial properties! Do you know which skin condition is caused by bacteria? Our mutual nemesis, acne.

One way that we can fight back is by using lemon essential oil as part of our skincare regimen. You can add a few drops to your favorite cleanser or make a toner by mixing equal parts water and witch hazel and adding in a few drops of lemon essential oil. Lemon essential oil’s effectiveness against acne is mostly anecdotal, but this oil is generally safe to use if you dilute it properly. A word of caution: lemon essential oil is phototoxic, meaning that it can cause severe damage to the skin if applied before sun exposure. If you are planning on spending a lot of time outside, wait until 24 hours after you use lemon essential oil on your face or body.

Although lemon essential oil has not been highly researched as a solution for acne, a relatively recent study tested its efficacy against various skin infections. Lemon essential oil has shown promising evidence as a fighter against staph infections. Nevertheless, the study notes that further research is necessary to prove lemon essential oil’s efficacy.

If you’d like to try out lemon essential oil for a skin condition, try diluting it with a carrier oil and applying it to the affected area. You can also add lemon essential oil and Epsom salt to a warm bath for a soothing and purifying soak.

May Improve Respiratory Function

Esther Driehaus 2Xhqe7Mm Cw Unsplash 684X1024 1 - Lemon Essential Oil

Although several sources say that lemon essential oil improves respiratory function, there is little research cited that supports these claims. The most relevant research study about lemon essential oil and respiratory function features a nasal spray that uses lemon essential oil as an active ingredient. Using this spray in the study was helpful for those with allergic sinusitis and thereby improved respiration, but saying it improves respiratory function overall or directly has yet to be proven.

Most people don’t have adverse reactions to lemon oil, so give this a try the next time you are feeling congested. Boil some water on the stove, then remove the pot from heat and add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the bowl. You can hold your face over the steam and feel the relief of the steam and the lemon essential oil!

May Improve Oral Health

Those antibacterial terpenes are at it again! Lemon can kill bacteria that cause bad breath but also fight back against a fungus that can overgrow in the mouth like candida. To use lemon essential oil for bad breath or other issues, you can try a rinse with lemon essential oil and warm water.

May Boost Immune System Function

Lemon essential oil is said to additionally support the function of the lymphatic system, which is a massive component of our immune systems. The lymphatic system helps drain out all of the toxins that accumulate in our bodies, so keeping this part of our bodies in tip-top shape is very important.

Again, the direct effect of lemon essential oil on the lymphatic system is not supported by detailed scientific research, but the observed effects are still there. Based on scientific research, we know that lemon essential oil contains antibacterial terpenoids that aid in boosting the immune system.

May Help Keep Hair Healthy 

Woman In Grassy Field, Sunny Summer Weather

Lemon essential oil may be able to keep your hair healthy! This claim is another piece of observed evidence regarding lemon essential oil, but it still might work for you. Allegedly this essential oil can help reduce buildup at the scalp and reduce sebum production, but the scientific studies to back this up are just not there yet. Try it out for yourself, but keep in mind that lemon tends to lighten the hair. Also, keep in mind that your scalp may burn if you don’t have it thoroughly rinsed out before you venture outdoors.

Lemon Essential Oil for Energy

We touched on lemon essential oil’s ability to boost our energy and mood above. In addition to boosting energy, lemon is generally considered to uplift the spirit as well. It has a variety of uses internally, externally, and even around your home! There are also several recipes leveraging lemon essential oil for cleaning. Lemon essential oil is generally considered nontoxic and safe to ingest. Make sure to seek out a lemon essential oil that is of very high quality if you are choosing to ingest it.

Give this oil a sniff right out of the bottle or diffuse it in your space for increased energy and a positive mood!

Other Benefits of Diffusing Lemon Essential Oil

We mentioned it briefly above, but diffusing lemon essential oil may be particularly useful for cleansing your space. Lemon essential oil has intense antimicrobial properties and potential antifungal and antiviral properties. Diffusing it into the air means that these benefits are reaching farther into your space.

If you have mold or bacteria lurking in your space, diffusing lemon may help to kill those nasty germs and promote overall wellness!

Considering lemon’s proven effects on mood as well, diffusing lemon essential oil may be perfect for the workplace or home. Individuals who enter your space may exit feeling lighter, happier, and more positive! The magic of aromatherapy and terpenes!

Unique Uses for Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil is the jack of all trades! Here are a few different recipes and applications of lemon essential oil that you will be dying to try out!

Skin Brightening Body Scrub

We already know that lemon essential oil can be great for skin conditions, so when you combine that power with detoxifying Epsom salts, you have a luxurious treat for your body!

This recipe features our DIY lemon oil recipe( listed below) in addition to a few drops of lemon essential oil. Take 1/3 cup of our lemon oil recipe, combine it with 2/3 cup of Epsom salts, mix in a few drops of lemon essential oil, and voilà! A body scrub that you can use to brighten your skin or share with a friend! Additionally, dolling this scrub up with a mason jar and a bow would make a lovely birthday gift.

Oily Hair Tonic

We touched on the observed benefits of lemon essential oil for oily hair, so here’s a recipe to try it out for yourself! Take 40 drops of lemon essential oil, 1/2 cup of witch hazel, and 1/2 cup of water and combine it into a squeeze bottle, then shake to blend all of the ingredients. Here’s what to do from there:

  • In the shower, wash your hair normally.
  • After showering and while hair is still damp, apply the tonic to the roots of your hair. Make sure to rub the solution into the scalp with your fingertips.
  • Allow hair to air dry and experience clarified roots!

Lemon Oil Surface Cleaner

We’ve mentioned that lemon oil can kick bacteria’s butt, so why not put this to use on your home surfaces? Combine 20 drops of lemon essential oil with two tablespoons of liquid soap and two and a half cups of water, combine in a dark-colored container to prevent decomposition. Then use the solution at your leisure to clean surfaces and kill bacteria naturally.

Our Top Picks for Lemon Essential Oil

If you’re going to ingest lemon essential oil, you want to make sure that you are using top-notch stuff. If you’re planning on using this oil topically or diffusing it, you want to make sure that what you’re putting into and onto your body is as pure as possible. Here are a few lemon essential oils from reputable brands that can meet your needs and your budget.

Rocky Mountain Oils

Rocky Mountain Oils has an excellent reputation for selling quality essentail oils, and there are multiple reasons as to why. Every bottle includes access to test results for the particular batch that you receive to hold the company accountable to quality assurance. You can purchase this oil and confidently know that you will not be getting any funky stuff in your bottle. Prices slightly higher than some other options at $13.95 for 15ml, this oil is a higher-end iteration of lemon essential oil.

The Plant Guru

The Plant Guru is known for making high-quality oils at low prices. They offer an organic version of lemon essential oil as well. Comparatively, you can get a 4-ounce bottle of lemon essential oil for $15.99. You may not be able to look up the specific GC/MS results of your bottle of essential oil. Although, the company does offer a general finding from a third-party lab for most of their oils. Lastly, this company is highly recommended if you are planning on adding lemon essential oil to a DIY cleaning solution.

Young Living

We’ve all heard of Young Living, so might as well throw their lemon essential oil on the list for comparison. Generally, most of their oils are considered high-quality. The lemon essential oil is no different. The main concern with Young Living is the price. A 5ml bottle of lemon essential oil stands at $15.25. Also, there is no option to look up the results of the GC/MS testing for each batch or specific oil. Nevertheless, Young Living has been around for a long time and is a reputable brand.

How to Make Lemon Oil at Home:

Several recipes can be found online for making lemon oil at home, but this one is a personal favorite. Give this one a try and drop us a comment below to let us know how it went for you!

  • Take five fully ripe organic lemons and wash them under cold water, then pat them dry.
  • Use a vegetable peeler or zester to remove the yellow skin of the lemons, taking care not to include any pulp or the bitter white pith of the lemon.
  • Prepare a double boiler
  • Place the lemon peels on the top boiler and cover them with 1 cup of your oil of choice. We recommend coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or grapeseed oil.
  • Reduce the heat and let the lemon peels infuse with the oil for about 3 hours.
  • Strain the oil into mason jars and squeeze the peels as you strain to ensure that you are getting out all of the oil.
  • Store this oil in a cool, dark place and use within six months.

Other Common Questions About Lemon Essential Oil

Can lemon essential oil help with depression?

Depressed, Sad Woman Laying On Bed

Depression can be a serious psychiatric disorder and requires the attention of trained medical professionals. Lemon essential oil is not a replacement for psychiatric medication or talk therapy. However, if you are feeling a bit down or need a little mood boost, diffusing lemon essential oil is an excellent option for you. You can even put some lemon essential oil into a wearable diffuser so you can carry around the mood-boosting benefits wherever you go!

How is lemongrass essential oil different from lemon essential oil?

First of all, although they both contain the word “lemon,” these essential oils come from two completely different plants. They do have some similar applications and chemical components, however! Both lemon and lemongrass contain citral and limonene, which are essential terpenes that have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. They may also treat similar ailments like acne and oily skin and blend similarly with other essential oils.

There are significant differences though, and these two essential oils are not interchangeable, so make sure that you don’t mistake the two!

Does lemon oil help with studying? 

Smart Man Studying At Night P3Dmwxv E1575999671582 - Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil has been shown to help with clearing the mind, boosting mood, and helping with focus. If you’re in a bad mood and it’s distracting you from studying, lemon essential oil might be able to put you in a better mindset for studying. Try diffusing five drops of lemon and three drops of peppermint for a minty fresh burst of motivation!

Can you put lemon essential oil in drinking water?

Woman Sitting On Chair Sipping Beverage

If it’s a high-quality lemon essential oil, you sure can! Lemon essential oil is a lot more potent than a squeeze of lemon juice, so you only need one drop to get a nice flavor in your water. If you want, you can also mix it with tea and honey for a soothing hot drink.

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