There seems to be no clear-cut path to the exact origin of the botanical fruit Lemon. It is generally thought that Citrus Limonum (what we know as the common Lemon tree and fruit) is part of an ancient hybrid subspecies of Citrus.
The original species Citrus may contain four candidates: Lime, Mandarin, Citron, and Pummelo. This information is highly controversial since scientists as recent as 1954 claimed to identify up to 145 species.
There may be two main subgenuses of the original species Citrus: Citrus (yes, a duplicate name) and Papeda. All citrus fruit that we buy commercially today come from the subgenus Citrus. A long history of citrus cultivation (dating as far back as 4000 BCE) along with the crossbreeding ability of the Citrus subgenus and their offspring, lends itself to any number of hybrids to numerous to count.
Lemon is considered an ancient hybrid of the original Citrus species Lime and Citron. So, the Lemon ends up being not and original botanical species but one cultivated.
Note: As confusing as all this maybe, it is important to have at least this basic understanding before purchasing Lemon essential oil because not all subgenus or variety of plants have the same health benefits and uses.
A natural consequence of all this confusion from cultivating, hybridization, and mutation of the subgenus makes it difficult to trace the center of origin for Citrus. It is generally thought that the domestication of Citrus was well in hand by 4000 BCE and the origination of the citrus fruit trees was in the regions of Southeast Asia and India. (1)
The Lemon tree makes its appearance in Italy around the year 200 and arrives in the new world via Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century. By the late 16th century the tree was cultivated on the coasts of Florida and South Carolina. And, by the 18th century it had reached California. (2)
The Lemon tree plant is an evergreen shrub that is in a special group of plants called hermaphroditic. All plants have male and female reproducing parts. Where these parts are in the flower determines how they are pollinated.
In the case of the Lemon tree, the orientation of sexual organs of the flowers give rise to self-pollination or self-fertilization. Other plants in this group include roses, lilies, sunflowers, daffodils, petunias, horse chestnut trees, magnolia trees, linden trees, and mango trees. (3)
The main chemical components of Citrus limonum essential oil are Limonene (primary), beta-Pinene, and gamma-Terpinene. The specific nature of the composition is what give this essential oil is aroma and heath benefits. Citrus limonum is photo toxic which means that skin irritation may arise if used on the skin then exposed to the sun within a 24 hour period.
Lemon essential oil is cold pressed from the peel of the lemon. Its scent is bright and uplifting. Its health benefits target the Circulatory, Digestive, Nervous, Skin, and Immune systems of the body.
Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil
- Supports the immune system. Fights bacteria and viruses
- Detoxifying to the liver
- Relieves nausea (especially during pregnancy)
- Reduces stomach upset, indigestion, and heartburn
- Acts as an astringent to cleanse and tone the skin. Good oil control for acne.
- Antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes
- Disinfects surfaces
- Decreases stress and improves mood
- Helps maintain oral health
How to Use Lemon Essential Oil
Diffuse – Place 10 to 15 drops in a diffuser. Diffuse 15 minutes every two hours during the day.
Inhale – Inhale from bottle or lid 2 to 3 times a day, Place 2 drops on a cotton ball and inhale, Rub 1 to 2 drops on hand, hold near the face (avoid touching face), and inhale.
Mist – Use a few drops in household cleaning products to disinfect.
Rub – Place 6 to 8 drops in one ounce (2 TBS) of massage cream or oil. Apply to areas of concern.
Gargle – Mix a drop or two with a little water and gargle after brushing teeth. Helps kill bacteria that cause bad breath and sore gums.
AIA Internal Use Statement
AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal). Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use.