By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
What is Lemon Peel?
Lemon, also known as Citrus limon, is a common citrus fruit, alongside grapefruits, limes, and oranges (1). Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f. is a small tree or spreading bush with evergreen leaves and yellow edible fruits from the family Rutaceae (Rue) (2). The tree can grow between 10 and 20 feet, with thorns, flower clusters, and oval leaves that have a reddish tint when young but turns green as they mature (3). While the pulp and juice are used the most, the peel tends to be discarded.
Health Benefits of Lemon Peel
Despite the peels often being discarded, studies have determined that lemon peel is full of bioactive compounds that may provide numerous health benefits, including:
Rich in Nutrition
We all know how nutritious lemons are, but let’s examine the nutrition in their peels. Lemon peels contain vital nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and more (4). I recommend Earthley’s Relax and Unwind Tea or Pregnancy Tea for these benefits.
Lemon peel is packed with potent antioxidants, which help neutralize or prevent the harmful effects of free radicals in the body (5). The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. More specifically, lemon peel is high in vitamin C (antioxidant) and D-limonene (flavonoid antioxidant) (6,7). Invitro studies determined lemon peels had more robust antioxidant activities than grapefruit or tangerine peels (8). Animal studies demonstrated that D-limonene boosts an enzyme’s activity, lessening oxidative stress associated with accelerated aging (9).
An antimicrobial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill or suppress the spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi (10). Lemon peel has several antimicrobial properties (11). Invitro studies found lemon peel to significantly impair and reduce the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (12).
An antifungal property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can fight the growth of specific pathogens that could harm your health, such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, tinea versicolor, toenail fungus, and jock itch (13). Lemon peel has several antifungal properties (14). Invitro studies demonstrated that lemon peel extract fought a drug-resistant fungus that provokes skin infections (15).
May Support the Immune Health
Of course, since lemon peels are rich in flavonoids, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, they can also help support the immune system. The immune system protects the body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other toxins (16). When you support your immune system, you potentially support your body’s ability to fight off sickness. A 15-day study giving dehydrated lemon peel to fish demonstrated improved immune responses (17). Additionally, a review of 82 studies uncovered that 1-2 grams of vitamin C per day lessened the severity and duration of the common cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children (18).
May Promote Heart Health
Lemon peel may also have positive effects on your overall heart health. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are all risk factors for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States (19). Research indicates the plant compounds of lemon peel, such as flavonoids, vitamin C, and pectin, can lessen that risk. For instance, a review of 14 studies in 344,488 participants discovered that a 10 mg flavonoid increase daily lowered the risk of heart disease by 5 percent (20). Additionally, lemon peels’ pectin may lower cholesterol levels by increasing the excretion of bile acids created by the liver that binds to cholesterol (21,22).
May Support Oral Health
Dental cavities and gum infections are widespread, bacteria-caused oral diseases (23). We’ve already discussed the antibacterial properties of lemon peel, but why not go a little more in-depth regarding oral health benefits? One study found higher doses of lemon peel extract could combat the activity of Streptococcus mutans more effectively (24). Another study identified four compounds in lemon peel with robust antibacterial properties capable of fighting common oral-disease-causing bacteria (25). I highly recommend Earthley’s Lemon-Berry Remineralizing Tooth Powder for these benefits.
Fun fact: In a study conducted where researchers asked 682 people about their toothbrushing habits; they found that those who brush their teeth less than twice a day for less than two minutes had an increased risk of having or dying from a heart attack, heart failure or stroke by three-fold! The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Shogo Matsui, suggested that “poor oral health, based on daily teeth brushing behavior, is associated with poorer heart health (26).”
Several studies have been conducted in both test tubes and on animals regarding the potential anticancer properties of lemon peel, especially stomach cancer (27). Invitro, D-limonene helped kill stomach cancer cells (28). In a 52-week animal study, D-limonene inhibited stomach cancer in rats by increasing the death rate of the mutated cells (29). Additionally, compounds like flavonoids have reduced the risk of several cancer types (30,31).
This is one of the few natural remedies that the mainstream is on the same page as herbalists. Lemon peel has no reported side effects and is recognized as safe. My only concern regarding lemon peel is to ensure your lemon is organic because traditional farming methods often use insecticides, pesticides, or protective wax covering, and the residue will remain on the peel (32). Additionally, I do not recommend ingesting essential oils; for more information regarding oil ingestion, check out our post, Why You Shouldn’t Ingest Essential Oils.
How to Use Lemon Peel
You can find lemon peel in dried bulk, pills, powders, teas, extracts, or essential oils. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes. If you’re a DIY person, some great starter recipes are:
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
Earthley’s Morning Burst Essential Oil Blend is designed to start the day feeling happy and refreshed. Fresh, sweet citrus peel combines with citrus blossoms for the best get-going blend. Start your morning with this invigorating and uplifting blend.
Earthley’s Pregnancy Tea is a nourishing brew to support a healthy pregnancy! Every mom wants to ensure she and baby are getting everything they need. Pregnancy Tea can help! This herbal formula contains all the nutrients you may miss in one tea blend.
Earthley’s Relax and Unwind Tea is an anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense tea blend. Ease anxious feelings with its all-natural calming properties. Enjoy the relaxation, anti-stress, and mood-stabilizing properties while nourishing your body. Great hot or iced.
Earthley’s Remineralizing Tooth Powder (Lemon-Berry) is a 100% natural and fluoride-free option for healthy, clean teeth. This tooth powder is whitening and remineralizing, so it will help improve the look, strength, and health of your gums and mouth.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.