Lemon Essential Oil For Aromatherapy Benefits

  • Vaishali S Gunjal M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Medicine, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

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What are essential oils?

Essential oil is an oil that contains the essence or unique fragrance of the plant.

The fragrance of essential oils is much stronger than that of the original plant from which they are obtained because they are concentrated plant extracts.

Essential oils need to be used with proper guidance as they contain concentrated and higher levels of active ingredients.

Aromatherapy and essential oils

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing method that supports the mind and body in healing various conditions by using essential oils. Aromatherapy is not a substitute for medical treatment, but it is a part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

In aromatherapy, the fragrance (aroma) of the oil plays a key role in the therapeutic effect it gives.

What is lemon oil?

Lemon oil is made from the outer peel or rind of a lemon which contains the essence of lemon.

Lemon oil is a favourite of many people for its citrusy aroma, which gives a refreshing and energising feeling. Lemon oil fragrance is the first essence most felt when used in a mix with other blends of oils, so it works as a top note in various aromatherapy formulations.

There are nearly 100 or more essential oils used in aromatherapy of which lemon oil is one of the most used essential oils in the health and beauty industry.

This article will help you to know how lemon oil can be a wonderful addition to your beauty and health regime with its numerous health benefits and the safe way to use it.

How is lemon oil obtained?

Distillation and cold pressing are the two most used methods to obtain essential oils.       

  • In distillation, water or steam is passed through the plant parts to obtain the essence in the extract.
  • In cold pressing, the plant material is pressed mechanically to obtain the essence.

Lemon oil is mostly obtained by the cold pressing method in which the outer peel or zest of fresh lemons is pressed mechanically and the extract with the essence of lemon is collected.

Lemon oil composition

  • Limonene is a primary component accounting for 60-70% of the lemon oil. Limonene was found to be having anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiviral, and gastroprotective effects.1  
  • Pinene, β-Pinene, Sabinene, Linalool, Citrus, and Citral  are other components that make up the unique citrus scent of lemon oil

Aromatherapy benefits of lemon essential oil

Mood enhancement and stress reduction

  • Lemon oil helps reduce stress-related symptoms. In one study, people who were exposed to lemon oil reported fewer physical symptoms compared with people who were exposed to the unpleasant smell of dimethyl sulphide.2     
  • The antistress effect of lemon has also been proven in animal models.3  

Respiratory system infections

  • Limonene and citral in lemon have antimicrobial properties, so lemon oil is helpful in respiratory system infections. 4 
  • Lemon oil can relieve congestion in coughs and colds by loosening the excel mucus and phlegm, making them easier to expel. 
  • Lemon oil is rich in polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants. It helps to reduce inflammation in bronchitis and asthma.5


  • Lemon oil is also proven to reduce anxiety-related symptoms, so it is an excellent option to have a lemon oil diffuser in place for its relaxing effect when you are feeling anxious or stressed.6  

Heart benefits

  • Lemon oil inhalation helps to reduce systolic blood pressure, regulates heart rate, and reduces anxiety. Lemon oil aromatherapy can be given as additional support to cardiac patients under medical supervision.7 


  • Lemon oil is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, which help to break down and remove dead skin cells, giving the skin a deeply cleansed and brightening effect, so it can be a good idea to add a few drops of lemon oil to your bath.

Digestive aid

  • Lemon oil stimulates the secretion of saliva and various digestive juices, bile, and pancreatic secretions needed for good digestion. Not all lemon oil formulations are suitable for ingestion, so make sure they are suitable to use this way.


  • Limonene and citral in lemon have antimicrobial properties, so they can help in treating skin infections when used in topical applications or massage oils in combination with other carrier oils like coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.

Food flavouring agent

  • Diluted lemon oil, only if the formulation is indicated for oral consumption with the precaution of having no more than one drop per day, can be added to your water for a fresh citrusy drink or as a food flavouring in various desserts and treats.

Household cleaning

  • Lemon oil mixed with vinegar and baking soda works as an excellent environmentally friendly cleaner for the home. The refreshing citrusy aroma of lemon will give a pleasant and clean feeling to your space.

Insect repellent

  • Lemon oil can be used as an insect repellent by using it in a diffuser or by mixing it with a carrier oil and applying it to your skin or clothes. 

How to use lemon oil

There are various ways to use lemon oil.

Steam inhalation

  • You can inhale lemon oil steam by adding a few drops of lemon oil into hot water in a pot or by using a steamer.


  • A Diffuser is a device that breaks the essential oil into smaller molecules and disperses them into the air as a fine mist. This spreads a fresh and citrus scent into the air making the place feel pleasant and invigorating.

Topical application

  • While using lemon oil for massage, do not forget to dilute it with another carrier oil. You can use coconut, jojoba, and almond oil as a carrier oil. Keep the concentration of lemon oil low in the mix, usually around 6 to 12 drops of lemon oil to 30 ml of carrier oil. 
  • Perform a patch test on a small area of skin with a small amount before applying to a larger area. Wait for 24 hours; if no adverse reactions like redness, irritation, or itchiness are experienced, that means you can use it. 
  • Massage the oil in circular motion and after the massage, do not expose the skin where lemon oil is applied to the sunlight because it can cause some skin reactions when exposed to the sun.


  • You can also add lemon oil mixed with carrier oil into your bath water to receive its benefits. Its exfoliating properties will help remove dead skin and antimicrobial action can help get rid of any skin infections. This helps in making the skin clean and brighter.


  • Lemon oil can be added to various compress mixes with other carrier oils in water for its cool and refreshing aroma.

Safety considerations and precautions

Essential oils are plant extracts with much higher concentrations of active ingredients than plant, so they need to be used with caution.

  • Dilution

Lemon oil should be diluted with other oils like coconut, jojoba, or almond oil before applying to the skin. For example, you might mix 6-15 drops of lemon oil with 30 ml of coconut oil where the typical dilution ratio is 2-5 % of lemon oil to the carrier oil.

  • Patch test

Before using lemon oil, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test, in which you need to apply a small amount of diluted lemon oil to a small area on the skin and wait for 24 hours for any potential allergic reactions like redness, swelling, or itching.

  • Phototoxicity

Lemon oil can cause skin reactions 8 when the skin to which lemon oil Is applied is exposed to the sun. so you need to wait for 12-18 hours before exposure to the sun if lemon oil is applied to the skin.

  • Ingestion

Not all lemon oil formulations are suitable for oral consumption, so make sure it is edible before using it as a food flavouring agent and consult a healthcare professional if in doubt.


Lemon oil is an essential oil obtained from the outer peel of a lemon. Lemon oil has various health benefits because of its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Lemon oil creates a relaxing and mood-enhancing atmosphere. You can add a few drops of Lemon oil in a diffuser for its anti-stress effects. Lemon oil helps relieve congestion in cough-cold plus its antimicrobial action also speeds up recovery. Lemon oil mixed with other carrier oils is used for its citrusy and refreshing aroma in massage oils. Lemon oil acts as a good exfoliator and gives skin-brightening effects. 

Lemon oil mixed with vinegar or soda makes it an environmentally friendly household cleaner. Lemon oil also has insect-repellent qualities when used in a diffuser or applied to the skin in a carrier oil mix. Overall lemon oil is an excellent and widely used essential oil in aromatherapy. Make sure you do a patch test before using it and do not expose the skin to the sun for 12-18 hours after using lemon oil because it can give skin reactions. Unless specifically formulated for ingestion do not ingest lemon oil 


What is lemon oil good for?

Lemon oil can be added to a diffuser for its refreshing aroma if you are feeling anxious or stressed as lemon oil has an anti-stress and anxiety-reducing effect. Lemon oil mixed with another carrier oil gives its refreshing aroma along with exfoliating and skin brightening results. Lemon oil aromatherapy is useful in cough and colds to reduce congestion.

Is lemon oil safe for ingestion?

Not all oil lemon oil formulations are designed for ingestion, so you need to make sure if it is safe and formulated specifically for oral consumption.

Risks of lemon oil use?

Lemon oil can cause allergic reactions like itching, inflammation, and swelling if you are allergic to lemon oil so make sure to do a patch test on a small area before using it. Lemon oil is also phototoxic so avoid exposing the skin to which lemon oil is applied to the sun as it can cause skin reactions. You need to wait for 12-14 hours after the application.  


  1. Vieira AJ, Beserra FP, De Souza MC, Totti BM, Rozza AL. Limonene: Aroma of innovation in health and disease. Chemico-Biological Interactions [Internet]. 2018 Mar 1;283:97–106. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbi.2018.02.007
  2. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Graham JE, Malarkey WB, Porter K, Lemeshow S, Glaser R. Olfactory Influences on Mood and Autonomic, Endocrine, and Immune Function. Psychoneuroendocrinology [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 33(3):328–39. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2278291/
  3. Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behavioural Brain Research [Internet]. 2006 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 172(2):240–9. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432806002798.
  4. Horváth G, Ács K. Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases highlighting their role in bacterial infections and their anti‐inflammatory action: a review. Flavour & Fragrance J [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 30(5):331–41. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ffj.3252.
  5. Rafique S, Hassan SM, Mughal SS, Hassan SK, Shabbir N, Perveiz S, et al. Biological attributes of lemon: A review. Journal of Addiction Medicine and Therapeutic Science [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 6(1):030–4. Available from: https://www.peertechzpublications.org/articles/JAMTS-6-134.php.
  6. Song Y, Seo S, Lamichhane S, Seo J, Hong JT, Cha HJ, et al. Limonene has anti-anxiety activity via adenosine A2A receptor-mediated regulation of dopaminergic and GABAergic neuronal function in the striatum. Phytomedicine [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 83:153474. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711321000167.
  7. Rambod M, Rakhshan M, Tohidinik S, Nikoo MH. The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on blood pressure, electrocardiogram changes, and anxiety in acute myocardial infarction patients: A clinical, multi-centered, assessor-blinded trial design. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 39:101155. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388119309041.
  8. Naganuma M, Hirose S, Nakayama Y, Nakajima K, Someya T. A study of the phototoxicity of lemon oil. Arch Dermatol Res [Internet]. 1985 [cited 2024 Jan 6]; 278(1):31–6. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00412492.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Vaishali S Gunjal

M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Medicine, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

Vaishali is a Pharmaceutical Medicine Professional currently working as a medical writer based in Leeds, UK. She has been working in the medical field for over a decade advising healthcare professionals and consumers on the proper use, benefits, and potential risks associated with pharmaceutical products used for treatment or prevention of various health conditions.

She developed a strong interest in the safe and effective use of medicines while playing a pivotal role in providing accurate and timely medical information in Pharmacovigilance- Medical Information and Regulatory roles for several years in various pharmaceutical organisations.

Through her medical writing, she aims to empower individuals with accurate health information, promote awareness, and foster informed decision-making regarding health-related issues.

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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