Thursday, April 10, 2014
LEMON-Citrus Limon, Citrus Limonum
Parts Used: peel, juice, pulp
Meridians/Organs affected: skin, digestive, immune, respiratory, blood, kidneys, spleen, circulatory
Properties: astringent, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-catarrh, styptic, anodyne, digestive, tonic, anti-asthmatic, antiscorbutic, antimalarial, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic
Lemon is a member of the Citrus family. It is a tender evergreen shrub or tree that can get from 6-22 feet tall. It has oval, toothed leaves, spring branches, and those most amazingly scented white or pale pink flowers that appear during spring and summer, followed by bright yellow oval-shaped fruit.
Like most citrus, lemon trees originated in Asia, but are now grown throughout the Mediterranean, Italy, France, Spain and California. They are very tender trees and not very hardy to changes in the weather. Each tree can produce up to 1500 lemons yearly. Cold expression of the fresh peels gives us the fragrant and well loved lemon essential oil. It takes about 1000 lemons to make one pound of oil.
Lemons were brought to Europe by the Arabs, who in turn had gotten them from India. They were virtually unknown to the Romans and Greeks until the mid-fifteenth century. Lemons were used by the ancient Egyptians for typhoid and food poisoning. In European countries they were used for all kinds of infectious diseases including typhoid and malaria. The English used lemons on their large sailing vessels to prevent scurvy, and early French physicians used the oil for gonorrhea, syphilis, tuberculosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, malaria and a host of other ailments. Nichola Lemery mentioned them in his writings in 1698, and said lemon was a very good digestive and carminative, that it helped to clean the blood and freshen the breath. Early herbalists used the juice for internal cleansing, to relieve muscle aches and pains, to clear toxins in the liver, and to lower blood pressure.
Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing lemon seeds to the Americas. There are now a number of lemon tree varieties that are harvested and used for their oil-each one different depending upon where it is grown and the method of extraction. There are roughly 2500 tons of lemon oil produced annually mostly by the United States, Italy, Sicily, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and the Ivory Coast.
Lemons have such a vast history it is hard to say what they haven't been used for. They are powerful healing agents. They have proven beneficial against coughs, colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throat, fevers, bleeding gums, eczema, skin issues, headaches, cold sores, herpes, mouth ulcers, chronic fatigue, immune system issues, heartburn, constipation, arthritis, upset stomach, circulatory problems, varicose veins, eye infections, PMS and a slew of others. It boosts the white blood cell production and thus enhances immunity. It tones the liver, heart and kidneys.
Lemon oil helps to balance overactive sebaceous glands and so helps one with acne, dandruff and oily hair. It helps to revitalize mature skin and improve cellulite by encouraging waste elimination and enhancing circulation. Long-term use has also proven helpful for broken capillaries, varicose veins, brittle nails, corns, warts, scar tissue and stretch marks.
Lemon was used as an antiseptic in hospitals up until WWI-I don't understand why they stopped as it is very effective AND it smells nice. In Chinese medicine lemon peel is said to move or enhance both the liver and the spleen. According to Jethro Kloss (author of Back to Eden), those suffering from gout, rheumatism, rickets and tuberculosis would benefit greatly by taking lemon juice on a daily basis, as would those who have a tendency to bleed or have uterine hemorrhages. Taking it during pregnancy is said to make strong bones in the fetus.
Lemons are a wonderful source of minerals-containing phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, iron and of course, vitamin C. They have been used in perfumes, potpourris, sodas, teas, jello, sauces, salad dressings, marinades, soups and alcoholic beverages. The most popular variety is the "Meyer" lemon, discovered in China in the 1900's.
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