By Steven H. Horne
Because this month’s topic is getting rid of toxic household cleaning products and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives I had a hard time thinking of an “herb” that fit the topic. That was, until I thought of lemon. Just think how many “lemon-fresh” cleaning products, dish soaps and furniture polishes are on the market. Obviously, the lemon scent is associated with “clean” in our minds.
There’s a good reason for this. Essential oils from plants like lemon, eucalyptus and pine are natural antiseptics. When we smell them, we subconsciously associate them with sanitation. And, besides being highly effective, they are much safer to use than chemical disinfectants, which are often toxic chemicals. In fact, even the AMA feels that disinfectant hand soaps may be doing more harm than good. There is no evidence to show that there is any benefit to using commercial disinfectant hand soaps over regular soap and water when it comes to preventing the spread of infection. So, when you consider the potential toxicity of these products, it makes sense to avoid them.
After all, one can make a pleasant smelling and effective antibacterial hand cleaner just by adding a few drops of an essential oil like lemon to a natural soap like Sunshine Concentrate. This is both safer and more economical.
Besides being antiseptic, lemon oil is also an immune stimulant and a digestive stimulant. Not only does it help reduce blood fat and cholesterol by stimulating liver and bile function, it can also help break down cellulite and abscesses. Topically, it can be helpful for greasy skin, cuts and boils. The fact that the oil helps cut grease is another reason why it’s a good oil for cleaning (both your house and your body).
The smell of lemon oil is emotionally uplifting, relieving depression, intellectual fatigue, moodiness, obsession and exhaustion. There’s still another reason why it’s also a great fragrance to use for cleaning, it lifts your mood while you’re doing the chores.
Lemons themselves are a great medicine, and one of those foods that show that the difference between food and medicine isn’t always that distinct. Lemon is a very popular remedy in Spanish medicine, where whole books have been written about its use.
Lemon is part of the Master Cleanse, popularized by Stanley Burroughs. However, I’d done natural lemonade cleanses long before I’d heard of this book, so the therapy has been around for a long time. Ed Millet, my first herb teacher, expounded to me back in 1980 on the benefits of drinking the juice of half a lemon in a glass of water first thing in the morning to “cleanse” the system.
I’ve found lemon to be a wonderful medicine for my constitution. Whenever I start to feel heavy, congested, sluggish, tired and stuffy, I find that doing even a short lemon “juice fast” makes me feel refreshed, lighter and more energized. This may be due, at least partially, to the alkalizing effect of lemon. It helps flush waste acids from the body, dissolves fatty congestion and stimulates energy production in the mitochondria of the cells. I’ve used both raw honey and natural maple syrup to sweeten my lemonade.
The Master Cleanse adds cayenne to the lemonade, but I personally never do this. I enjoy the lemonade by itself too much and, besides, I use cayenne in plenty of other foods all the time. However, when I’m fasting on freshly made lemonade, I do take whatever herbs I feel I need.
Besides having an alkalizing effect, drinking natural lemonade like this has a cooling effect on inflammation and fever. It can be a very useful therapy for colds and flu, especially if consumed warm. It helps loosen phlegm and relieve congestion and can help settle the stomach.
Lemon also acts as a tonic to the pancreas and liver. It can help settle an “acid” stomach and is helpful for “acid” conditions such as gout, rheumatism and arthritis. It can also help relieve sore throats and strengthen blood capillaries because of its vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Lemon juice can also be applied topically to acne, bites and stings, sunburn, topical fungal infections and warts.
Lemon juice is also used with olive oil to flush gallstones, as part of the gallbladder flush. If you don’t want to do the full flush, however, taking just one tablespoon of lemon juice mixed with one tablespoon of olive oil every day can be very helpful for the gallbladder. You can even use the mixture as a salad dressing.
Another use for lemon juice is to flush kidney stones. For that, you use the juice of four lemons dissolved in a gallon of distilled water. You consume this unsweetened lemon water over the course of a day (while fasting) to help dissolve kidney stones.
A really good remedy for respiratory congestion and infection is to peel a lemon, leaving the “white” part (which is rich in bioflavonoids) and blend it up with a quart of water, some honey or maple syrup and a fresh clove of garlic. Now, that will “knock out” what ails you!
Lemons are extremely safe, but the overuse of lemon oil internally may cause nausea. Externally, lemon oil may cause dermal irritation. Lemon oil is phototoxic, so avoid using it on skin that is exposed to light.
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green
The Comprehensive Guide to NSP Products by Tree of Light Publishing
The Master Cleanse by Stanley Burroughs