Thirteen unusual and amazing uses for lemons

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Thirteen unusual uses for lemons

Who would have thought that this humble fruit bowl staple was actually a versatile medicine in disguise?

The potential uses for lemons reach far beyond home remedies, too — there's even scientific evidence that they reduce the risk of cancer and heart attacks.

Related: What to eat to avoid cancer

Here are more reasons to enjoy the zesty tang of lemons:

Spot buster: Dab lemon juice on pimples — its acids slough off the outermost layer of dead skin cells, keeping pores clear and unblocked.

Beat morning sickness: Many pregnant women find relief by sipping lemon water, sucking a lemon wedge, or adding lemon zest to weak black tea. The sharp taste and aroma counter nausea and settle the stomach.

Smell sweet: Lemon juice is an effective underarm deodorant, fighting the bacteria that cause the odour by making the pH level of your skin more acidic.

Heart helper: Along with other antioxidant-rich fruit and veg, such as berries and onions, lemons are a good source of vitamin C, which counters the effects of free radicals (unstable cell-damaging molecules) in the body. Low levels of antioxidants in general, and vitamin C in particular, are associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack because unchecked free radicals oxidise cholesterol and encourage it to be deposited as plaque, which blocks the arteries.

Oil change: Lank, limp hair can be caused by over-active sebaceous (oil-producing) glands in the scalp, which may be due to poor diet or illness. Lemon juice helps control oiliness: mix the juice of 1 lemon into 1 cup of water and pour through wet hair as a final leave-in rinse.

Kidney care: The citric acid found in lemons helps to prevent the formation of painful kidney stones — drink a glass of hot water each morning with the juice of a lemon added. Bonus: this also stimulates peristalsis (the wave-like contractions that move food along the digestive tract), and so helps to counter constipation.

Quit the hiccups: Suck on a slice of lemon to get a bout of hiccups under control — the sourness acts as a circuit breaker to the spasms, by temporarily interrupting swallowing and breathing patterns.

Breast cancer hope: Cancer researchers have found that a chemical compound in lemon peel called limonene will inhibit the development of cancerous cells, at least in a test-tube situation; other evidence suggests that limonene stimulates the liver to break down toxins, including potential carcinogens, more effectively.

Breathe easy: If you're plagued with sinusitis, lemony remedies can help. Try hot lemon tea with a dash of cayenne pepper to thin mucus, or mix the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a good pinch of salt with 1 cup of lukewarm water, and fill a neti pot with it. To use, tilt your head to one side and pour the liquid into one nostril until it comes out the other side. Blow your nose softly and then repeat on the other side.

Wave goodbye to warts: Crush three vitamin C tablets and mix with enough lemon juice to form a gritty paste. Paint directly onto the wart, avoiding surrounding skin (smearing petroleum jelly around it will help), and cover with a bandaid. The acidic effects of the vitamin and the juice will fight the wart virus and also dissolve the wart.

Lighten up: Fade age spots by applying lemon juice to them twice a day. Lemon juice is a mild bleach and its citric acid gently exfoliates and fades pigmented skin.

Cancer fighter: One study found that people who regularly drank black tea with a slice of lemon in it were less likely to get skin cancer; it's thought the lemon activates the enzyme glutathione, which counters carcinogens in the body.

Dry mouth cure: Lack of saliva is an annoying side effect of certain medications; it's also linked to ageing. To stimulate saliva flow, add a dash of lemon juice to water.

Related: The secret to growing perfect lemons

Viral vigilante: Never underestimate the healing power of a hot lemon drink when it comes to reducing the miseries of coughs, colds and flu, as it will help to soothe irritated tissues, reduce histamine — the chemical that causes inflammation, stuffy noses and runny eyes — and deliver an immune system-boosting dose of vitamin C, all in one go.

Your say: Do you have any interesting uses for lemons?

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