Citrus limon (L.) Osbeck

Last updated: 08 April 2016

Scientific Name

Citrus limon (L.) Osbeck


Citrus x aurantium subsp. bergamia (Risso & Poit.) Engl., Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia (Risso) Wight & Arn., Citrus aurantium var. bergamia (Risso) Brandis, Citrus x aurantium var. mellarosa (Risso) Engl., Citrus x bergamia Risso & Poit, Citrus x bergamia subsp. mellarosa (Risso) D. Rivera & al., Citrus x bergamota Raf., Citrus x limodulcis D. Rivera, Obón & F.Méndez, Citrus x limonelloides Hayata, Citrus x limonia Osbeck, Citrus x limonia var. digitata Risso, Citrus x limomum Risso, Citrus medica var. limon L., Citrus medica f. limon (L.) M.Hiroe, Citrus medica f. limon (L.) Hiroë, Citrus medica subsp. limonia (Risso) Hook. F., Citrus x medica var. limomum (Risso) Brandis, Citrus x medica subsp. limomum (Risso) Engl., Citrus medica var. limomum (Risso) Brandis, Citrus x mellarosa Risso, Citrus x meyeri Yu. Tanaka, Citrus x vulgaris Ferrarius ex. Mill., Limon x vulgaris Ferrarius ex Miller. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Lemon [2]
China Ning meng [2]
India Amla, bara nebu, bara-nimbu, baranebu, brihat nimbe, cerunarakam, cherunaaranga, cherunaaranga, pacha, dabba, dantasathah, dodda nimbe, elumiccai, elumichai, gol nemu, jambira, jambirah, jamiri nimbu, kalanbak, khatta, lembu, lemu, lemu-e-tursh, limoon, limpaka, mahajambiraphalam, mahanimbu tvak, naranga, nembu, nenbu, nimbu, nimbuka, nobab, pahari-nimbu, qalambak, tung-mang, utraj [2]
Japan Remon [2]
Saudi Arabia Loomi [2]
Tanzania Elimayo [2]
Tibet Dzam bi ri, dzi ma bi ra [2].

Geographical Distributions

Citrus limon is originated from Asia and found its way to Europe fairly early. It has been brought to Malaysia, and bears fruits, though it prefers a less intense wet climate. [3][4]

Botanical Description

C. limon is a member of the Rutaceae family. It is a small tree measure about 3-6 m tall with stout stiff spines. [5]

The leaves are oblong to elliptic-ovate, and size of 6-12.5 cm x 3.6 cm. [5]

The flowers are usually white in colour. [5]

The fruits are ovoid to cylindrical berry, 7-12.5 cm long, yellow to golden, with a thick rough peel, and 8-10 segments. [5]


C. limon is now widely cultivated in all subtropics and tropics regions, mainly United States (California), Italy, Spain and Greece. [5]

Chemical Constituent

Peel oil of C. limon has been reported to contain high concentration of monoterpene hydrocarbons (le.g. limonene, γ-terpinene and ß-pinene). [6]

Peel and leaf oil of C. limon has been reported to contain (limonene; limonene/ß-pinene/γ-terpinene; and limonene/linalyl acetate/linalool); (limonene/ß-pinene/geranial/neral and linalool/linalyl acetate/α-terpineol). [7]

Leaves extract of C. limon has been reported to contain monoterpenoids (e.g. α-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, γ—terpinene, p-cymene, citronellal, methylheptanone, linalool, terpinen-4-ol, isopulegol, α-tepineol, neral, geranial, nerol, citronellol, geranyl acetate, neryl acetate and thymol). [8]

Plant Part Used

Root, bark, fruit, seed. [4]

Traditional Use

C. limon has been traditionally used to treat varicose veins, haemorrhoids, renal calculi, feverish minor illnesses and bronchial congestion. This plant also is used externally to heal eczema, poisonous stings and sore throats.

The fruits of C. limon has been used to relive coughs, dissipate phlegm, promote saliva production and strengthen the spleen. In addition, there is a claim that this plant is able to treat throat inflammation, indigestion, whooping cough, vitamin deficiency causing listlessness and tinea on the body or feet.

The C. limon juice is widely known as a diuretic, an antiscorbutic, an astringent and an antipyretic. In Italy, the juice is consume to relieve gingivitis, stomatitis, and tongue inflammation. In addition, the juice extract added with hot water is has been widely advocated as a daily laxative and a preventive of common cold.

The seeds of C. limon help to ease pain, treat blurred vision and promote the circulation of vital energy.

In Cuba, the decoction of C. limon roots is used to treat fever, and in West Africa to treat gonorrhoea. An infusion of the bark or fruit peel is claim is relieve abdominal colic. [4]

Preclinical Data


Anti stress activity

C. limon oil has been demonstrated to exhibit anti-stress activity in mice. The results indicated that the anti-stress effect of C. limon oil was significantly blocked by pre-treatment with frumazenil, benzodiazepine receptor antagonist, or apomorphine, a nonselective DA receptor agonist. In addition, C. limon oil was significantly accelerated the metabolic turnover of DA in the hippocampus and of 5-HT in the prefrontal cortex and striatum. [9]

Antioxidant activity

The essential oil of C. limon showed inhibitory activity against linoleic acid oxidation. The results indicated that among the Citrus essential oil tested, C. limon possess the highest antioxidative activities, more than 90%. [10]

The essential oil of C. limon showed antioxidative effects on copper induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL), thus lower the risk for atherosclerosis. Result demonstrated that active compound of C. limon, γ-terpinene is the most efficient to slow down the LDL oxidation. [11]

The extract of C. limon oil has been demonstrated that is able in controlling free radical-induced lipid perodixidation an tissue damage in the skin. The result showed that a compound isolated from C. limon oil, namely Lem1, is endowed with a strong antioxidant activity and that its capable of inhibiting free radical-mediated reactions, evaluated in vitro and in vivo biochemical systems. [12]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Antioxidant activity

Extract from C. limon oil has been reported to possess antioxidative stress by inhibit oxidative damage to the skin. The topical application of Lem1 from C. limon in healthy volunteers was significantly increases the antioxidative potential of skin biosurface, thus highlighting the effectiveness of a natural antioxidant biotechnology in the antiaging management of skin. [13]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


Not for cutaneous application, because of its dermo-agressivity and photosensitivity. In fact, numerous animal studies have indicated that undiluted citrus oils have been found to cause tumours on the skin at the site of application. [14]

A study of perfume factory workers showed that allergic contact dermatitis could be caused by lemon essential oil. This allergic response is thought to be due to the auto-oxidation of limonene when exposed to air as limonene that has not oxidized does not seem to produce the allergic response. [15]

C. limon essential oil can have phototoxic effects when cold pressed but does not appear to have the same effect when distilled, considered an inferior method of extraction. [16] The phototoxic effects are thought to be the effect of various furanocoumarins. [17]

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Citrus limon (L.) Osbeck. 2013 ver1.1 [updated 2012, cited 2016 April 08]. Available from
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 282.
  3. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and Federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 568-569.
  4. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 195.
  5. Jansen PCM, Jukema J, Oyen LPA, van Lingen TG. Citrus limon (L.) Burm.f. In: Verheij EWM, Coronel RE, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible Fruits and Nuts. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc, 1991; p. 326.
  6. Kirbaslar SI, Boz I, Kirbaslar FG. Composition of Turkish lemon and grapefruit peel oils. J Essent Oil Res. 2006;18(5):525-543.
  7. Lota M, de Serra D, Tomi F, Jacquemond C, Casanova J. Volatile components of peel and leaf oils of lemon and lime species. J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(4):796-805.
  8. Kekelidze NA, Dzhanikashvili MI, Rusadze LV, Kachurina AP. Dynamics of the accumulation of monoterpenoids in Citrus limon. Khimiya Prirodnykh Soedinenii. 1985;(6):784-787.
  9. Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-ht and da activities in mice. Behav Brain Res. 2006;172(2):240-249
  10. Song H, Keda H, Sawamura M. Antioxidative activities of citrus peel essential oils and their components against linoleic acid oxidation. Food Sci Technol Res. 2001;7(1):50-56.
  11. Grassmann J, Schneider D, Weiser D, Elstner EF. Antioxidative effects of lemon oil and its components on copper induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein. Arzneimittelforschung. 2001;51(10):799-805.
  12. Calabrese V, Randazzo SD, Catalano C, Rizza V. Biochemical studies on a novel antioxidant from lemon oil and its biotechnological application in cosmetic dermatology. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1999;25(5):219-225.
  13. Calabrese V, Scapagnini G, Randazzo SD, et al. Oxidative stress and antioxidants at skin biosurface: A novel antioxidant from lemon oil capable of inhibiting oxidative damage to the skin. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1999;25(6):281-287.
  14. Aloisi AM, Ceccarelli I, Masi F, Scaramuzzino A. Effects of the essential oil from citrus lemon in male and female rats exposed to a persistent painful stimulation. Behav Brain Res. 2002;136(1):127-135.
  15. Schubert HJ. Skin diseases in workers at a perfume factory. Contact Dermatitis. 2006;55(2):81-83.
  16. Bråred CJ, Forsström P, Wennberg AM, Karlberg AT, Matura M. Air oxidation increases skin irritation from fragrance terpenes. Contact Dermatitis. 2009;60(1):32-40.
  17. Tisserand R. Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Scotland: Churchill Livingston; 1995.