By Dr. Harold Gunatillake Health Writer
According to ayurveda and herbal medicine, lemons are the most valuable of all fruits, used in decoctions for the preservation of health. Lemon has been used by various cultures around the world since antiquity to improve and maintain health of mankind, down the ages.
Lemons have potent phytochemicals to fight against inflammation, enhance immunity and some believe has anti-cancer properties. The latter benefit has not been proved scientifically.
Nero, the notorious emperor of Rome, drank large quantities of lemon drinks to counteract attempts on his life by poisoning.
During the 18th century, British Royal Surgeon James Lind found that lemon juice could ward off scurvy, a debilitating epidemic among sailors due to lack of vitamin C. From then, all ships carried fruits including lemons.
In Indonesia there was a custom among women to soak their feet in warm water mixed with lemon juice for migraine headaches.
A glass of hot water with a squeeze of lemon is a great cleanser first thing in the morning.
More than 50% of the US lemon crop is processed into juice and other drink products. The peel, pulp, and seeds are also used to make oils, pectin, or other products. Lemon juice has long been used as a diuretic, diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, lotion, and gargle.
Pectin component is beneficial, aiding cardiovascular health.
Lemons have about 8 percent citric acid. There was a time when one could buy citric acid powder from the chemists over the counter. It was an ingredient in some of the Western prescriptions for sore throats, irritations and coughs. Citric acid was used in soaps as a cleaning product.
Lemon juice is also rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. It is helpful in healing wounds, is required for the formation of collagen in fibrous healing of skin wounds. Supposed to fight tumors. So, it is assumed that lemon juice will fight cancer. If that is true all fruits will fight cancer?
The erosive effects of lemon juice on tooth enamel have also been evaluated. One study finds loss of gloss, alteration in enamel colour, and irregular dental tissue loss upon morphological analysis. Always dilute lemon juice with water, if you are a regular user.
Bioflavonoids in lemon juice
Bio-flavonoids generally strengthen blood vessels and prevent fragility. Lack of vitamin C in the blood can cause oozing of blood through the vessel walls. These flavonoids are supposed to be beneficial for eye health.
Lemon juice has high potassium content as in most fruits and some vegetables. Helps contraction of heart muscles, and forms part of the electrolyte balance in the body fluids and blood. Those who suffer from kidney disease should limit their fruit consumption to avoid high blood potassium levels (hyper-kalaemia)
As mentioned earlier lemon fruits are very popularly used by herbalists and ayurvedic physicians in their decoctions. It is a strong astringent and can be used to gargle the throat. It is a cooling drink used during inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and fevers.
It is used as a neutraliser for alcoholic hang overs. It is customary to squeeze in a cut lemon into the big toe to cure hangovers after alcoholic excess. Incidentally, I was given that treatment at the University Brodie Hostel (Bullers Rd-now Bauddhaloka Mawatha) on the last day of the freshmen’s rag, when we are forcefully made to drink.
The peel supposed to contain higher concentrations of citric acid and anti-cancer compounds than the pulp. This is not scientifically proven.
(Some ref: to eHow health.com)
Lemon juice offers valuable nutritional benefits and also can cleanse the body and cultivate a strong immune system to fight diseases. Always dilute lemon juice with water before drinking to prevent enamel decay.
Lemon juice will enhance heart burn due to its acidity, well diluted with hot water eases the heart burn discomfort.
Lemon juice helps to relieve constipation. The action may be due to the mild irritant effects of vitamin C and citric acid.
Like most other fruit juices, tea and coffee, lemon juice is a mild diuretic (passing more urine)
Citric acid works as an antiseptic by changing the acidity of the urine. Certain kidney stones are formed in alkaline urine, and by changing the pH to the acid side one could prevent stone (Calculi) formations in the kidneys. Doctors prescribe ‘citravascent’ and ‘Ural’ in such situations.
Lemon juice also rids of harmful bacteria and toxins in the urine.
Lemons are supposed to bring out anti-cancer ingredients in green tea. Catechins, unique antioxidants present in tea help reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting cancer cell activity. After digestion only about 20 percent of total catechins from green tea remain in the body.
However a Purdue University study showed that lemon juice can increase catechin levels in our bodies to more than five times. So, indirectly lemon juice assists in cancer prevention.
Lemon in green tea is a popular drink, and regular drinking may help prevention of cancer. This needs further studies.
Extracting the juice
Submerge a full lemon in boiling water for about 15 minutes. Remove when the skin feels soft. Cut into segments and squeeze.
Do not throw away the peel. Wash the rind well, then zest it (don’t include the bitter white pith). Add this to baked foods, hot tea, yoghurt, soups and even “lunu miris” a favourite accompaniment with hoppers, pittu, and milk rice.
Nutrition (1 Unit):
Energy (kJ): 67
Protein (g): 0.3
Saturated Fat, g : 0.0
Salicylates: Very high
Drink Tea With Lemon And Not Milk
Carbohydrates, g: 1.0
Fat (g): 0.1
Fat , g: 0.0
Start the day with…..
A glass of hot water with squeeze of lemon is a great cleanser first thing in the morning
The best lemons
Two main varieties of lemon – Eureka (thick skinned) and the Lisbon (thinner skin).
Store in a bowl for up to 10 days
Avoid exposure to moisture as they will mould.