Lemons (Citrus limon) are native to Southeast Asia and a member of the Rutaceae family. The storage capacity of lemons and limes made them useful for sailors who took them on long sea voyages to prevent scurvy (hence the sailor's nickname, "limey". Lemons are more acidic, containing mainly citric acid and less sweet than oranges. Lemons are considered sour, cooling and alkaline. Lemons are antiparasitic, antiseptic, astringent, mucus resolving and refrigerant. In a study where lemon juice was poured in shellfish, the lemon juice negated 92% of the bacteria in the shellfish within fifteen minutes.
Lemon is used medicinally to treat asthma, bronchitis, colds, fever, gallstones, headache, indigestion, obesity and neuritis. It helps cleanse the liver, stimulating bile production and helps lower cholesterol. The juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water is a great way to start the day, as opposed to coffee.
Lemons contain limonene, which is used to dissolve gallstones and is being researched for its anticancer properties. Limonene is more prevalent in the white inner portion of the lemon rind. Lemons are high in vitamin C, potassium and improve in the assimilation of minerals.
The juice of half a lemon in a cup of warm water can be used as a gargle for sore throats. Lemon juice can be applied topically to calm itchy insect bites, pimples, corns, warts, boils and poison ivy. Though it might sting, can be used as an antiseptic agent on cuts. Lemon juice saturated into a cotton ball and applied inside one nostril can stop a nosebleed. The strained juice of a lemon added to the final rinse water refreshes the scalp and promotes shiny hair. Lemon juice has been used to lighten stains (ink, fruit, rust) on fabric.
The high acidity of lemons makes them unsuitable for sucking on, as it can damage dental enamel. Lemon helps fluidify the blood and so should be used cautiously by people that are overly thin, weak and irritable.
Add lemon juice to fruits and vegetables to preserve their color. Substitute lemon juice for vinegar in salad dressings. Lemons that are tinged with green are likely to be more acidic. Thick-skinned lemons will have less juice than thin-skinned varieties. Adding grated lemon rind to food gives a zesty flavor. But choose organic, commercial lemons often are wax coated.