Lemon oil-the myths and hype removed
The myths reviewed
By Martin Watt

There are vast numbers of posts on social media sites and on the blogs of multi
level distributors about what lemon oil can do. Therefore I thought it opportune
to wade through my old newsgroup posts and create a new article on this
issue. Don't think I am saying that lemon oil is of no use, it is, but just not for
most of the physical ailments you will see listed.

This review is intended to help people understand why so many urban myths
have grown in aromatherapy, and perhaps where that information may have

Various untrue claims found on blogs in books and in courses:

Lemon oil is "astringent" is quoted in the majority of aromatherapy books,
on websites and in course notes.

“Lemon oil is best known for its ability to cleanse toxins from any part
of the body”.
Any mention of the words 'detox' or 'detoxification' are beauty
trade hype.

“Lemon essential oil is antiviral”. The oil is not, the juice might be.

“The oil cleanses body and lymphatic system” This is hype to sell oils.
Hardly any essential oil penetrates the skin so it cannot get into the lymphatic

“Lemon oil can reduce cellulite” Not true, this is hype to sell oils and typical
of the lies originating in the beauty trade to fool their customers.

“Lemon oil improves weight loss” Not true; just lies from the beauty trade.

“2 to 3 drops of lemon in each glass of water you drink will not only
kill the nasties in your tap water but will also provide a gentle detox”.

You can't mix oil and water. It is doubtful that lemon oil will kill bugs in tap
water at that level of use or indeed at any level of use. Detox is again just
sales hype.

“Lemon oil is fantastic for inflammation”. So if you accidentally get lemon
oil in the eye it does not cause instant burning and inflammation? These
dangerous idiots should try some of their recommendations!

“Lemon is antiseptic. It stimulates digestion by supporting the liver”.
Lemon oil is highly unreliable as an antimicrobial agent. It can start loosing
that property within a few weeks of production. The claim of “supporting the
liver” looks to me like the use of the juice in certain types of diet.

Many of the above untrue claims have been invented by the teachers and
pseudo experts in multi level selling companies. Therefore I have attempted to
find out if there may be any original information sources that they have used.

The old herbals:
I have several old pharmacopoeias and herbals dating back to Ancient Greece.
In none of those is lemon oil suggested as an astringent. In most of the
pharmacopoeas the oil is just listed as a flavoring agent. That is despite them
listing other essential oils along with their medicinal uses.

One of my most prized possessions is 'Hills Herbal' or 'The Family Herbal' 1812,
by Sir John Hill MD. He only describes the uses for lemon peel and juice for
stomach problems.

A modern Herbal by Maud Grieve. A passing mention of lemon oil for flavoring
but a big section on the juice. It is stated that: “Locally it is a good astringent”.
Since that book was one of the most commonly available when the early
aromatherapy books were written, my guess is that is one source they have
used. The early aromatherapy authors have done the usual and switch the use
of the juice to the use of the oil. Clearly the more potential uses they could
throw together the more people will buy their books as well as the oils.

Essential oils & aromatherapy books:
The excellent book by Gattefosse first published in 1937 makes no mention
of lemon oil as an astringent.
Indeed he only list two uses for stomach
ailments which would be internal use, and one for a vague “against venom”.
That is despite him providing a huge list of reference works. Clearly he could
not find much on the medicinal uses for the oil.

The book 'The Secret of Life and Youth' by Marguerite Maury is often credited
as the first aromatheray book. However, most of its contents are beauty
therapy orientated and about various forms of complementary medicine and
diet. She only talks about essential oils in a none specific way. I did note that
on page 128 she mentions the use of “lilac oil”. Such a statement proves she
had little knowledge of essential oils as that essential oil does not exist. In
most of the cases she does not specify which oils or how used. In the section
on diet she is talking about the use of herbs and not essential oils as
subsequent aromatherapy sources often led us to believe. On page 178 she
talks about lemon oil and orange but in the context of the fruit being used, not
the pure essential oil. She says “when lemon is used in a dish it dissolves the
fat and cleanses fish and meat”. That one sentence has been corrupted by later
teachers into “lemon oil dissolves fat”. Page 230 contains very important
advice for those who advocate the internal use of essential oils in that Maury
says “An essence for external use can contain terpenes, but for internal use
they must be removed at all cost”. Yet the dangerous followers of the multi
level companies constantly advocate the internal use of the whole oil. So the
source for “lemon oil is astringent” does not come from this book.

The earliest aromatherapy book I can find making this claim on lemon is 'The
Practice of Aromatherapy' by Jean Valnet published in 1980. What most
subsequent aromatherapy authors failed to realize - when they copied his
- was his book is mainly a herbal, rather than a sound book on essential
oils. With the Properties and Therapeutic uses he fails to define if he meant
the use of the fruit or its oil, yet the first paragraph refers to the “essence”
which in his view seems to mean the oil. The book throws in everything barring
the kitchen sink as being treatable using lemon oil from malaria to stomach

The next book making therapeutic claims for lemon is 'Aromatherapy A-Z by
Patricia Davies' 1988. She makes numerous claims about what lemon can do
but fails to define if she means lemon juice or lemon oil. As a herbalist I know
most of those attributes are for the juice not the oil. She also gives no
references on the source of her information other than Valnet above. She says
that “lemon is an astringent” and leaves it up to the reader to guess if she -
means the oil or the juice. As with several subsequent authors she cites the
book by Valnet to justify her therapeutic use claims.

The next book I looked at is 'The Encyclopaedia of Essential oils' by J. Lawless
first published 1992 in which she does say “lemon oil is astringent”, plus a
heap of other unreferenced medicinal claims mainly based on the juice not the

'Aromatherapy' by Daniel Ryman first published in 1991 (one of only a couple
of early aromatherapy authors I have any respect for). She goes to great
pains to differentiate between the use of lemon juice and lemon oil. I can
immediately spot copies and corruptions of her work in many of the
subsequent aromatherapy books.

'The Aromatherapy book' by Jeanne Rose published in 1992 quotes Valnet as
saying "lemon" is "astringent" and gives a whole string of uses that are based
on the juice not the oil.

Beauty therapy books:
There are many of those and it should not be forgotten that many of the early
aromatherapy authors were beauty therapists. Most of the beauty therapy
books that I have checked are very specific about using lemon juice for a
variety of skin and hair fomulas. So as with the herbals, the early
aromatherapy writers have taken what they knew about lemon juice and just
transferred those actions to lemon oil.

At the risk of boring you, I am not going to mention the plethora of subsequent
aromatherapy 'novels' as I call them. Almost all of them are copied from the
early aromatherapy books and later authors just tweaked the information here
and there. I know of two such authors who privately admitted that their books
were based around the courses they attended. Courses where the teachers
based their information on the books already mentioned above.

The unfortunate aspect is that the public and therapists read these
books and simply assume the authors are experts and must know what
they write about. They did not, and still do not. When I point this out, I
am the one that comes under attack. People do not like having their
icons lack of real knowledge exposed to scrutiny especially when they
have paid out a small fortune for courses run by these people.


Source and copyright: aromamedical.org
More posts
Rosemary oil (Tunisian) - growth and production