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Lemon (Lebu/nimbu)


Botanically it is called Citrus acid. It is a small tree or spreading bush of the rue family (Rutaceae). The lemon forms a spreading bush or a small tree 10 to 20 feet high if not trained or pruned. Its young leaves have a decidedly reddish tint; later they turn green. In some varieties, the young leaves of the lemon are angular; some have sharp thorns at the axilae of the leaves. The flowers having a sweet odour are rather large, solitary or in small clusters in the axila of the leaves. Reddish tinted in the bud, the pet are white above and reddish purple below.

The fruit is oval with a broad low apical nipple and having 8 to 10 segments. The outer rind or peel is yellow when ripe and rather thick in some varieties is prominently glandular dotted. The white spongy inner part of the peel called the mesocarp is nearly tasteless and is the chief source of commercial grades of pectin. The seeds are small, ovoid, pointed, sometimes few or more. The pulp is decidedly acid. Young lemon starts bearing fruits as early as the third year after planting and commercial crop may be expected during the fifth year. The average orchard yield per tree is 1500 lemons a year.

The humble lemon contains most of the vitamins and minerals. It has magical and wonderful healing powers. It is a citrus fruit. Other citrus fruits are orange, mandarine, tangerine, narangi, musumbi (lime), grape-fruit, grape, and shaddock. All citrus fruits are very rich sources of vitamins A, B and C. They also contain appreciable amounts of iron and calcium.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C in the diet helps the body to grow and maintain collagen. They explain that collagen is a gelatin-like gristle that holds billions of cells together in the body. It is found in ligaments, joints, bones, gum tissues and in the walls of all the blood vessels.

It also gives elasticity and strength to the connective tissue. Again vitamin C is necessary to the normal healing rate of wounds and to prevent bruises from discolouring the skin for too long time. Its function is also to strengthen the body's resistance to infection and maintain tissue integrity of teeth, bones and gums.

Vitamin C in adequate quantity must be taken daily and if its deficiency is continued over a long period of time, the gums may become tender and bleed easily, joints may hurt and swell, black and blue marks may appear readily at the slightest bruise, the chance of haemorrhage which may result from a 'stroke' is far greater and colds may be taken frequently. Deficiency of vitamin C may cause scurvy. Therefore vitamin C is absolutely necessary to fortify the body against infections and cold.

Daily requirement of vitamin C:

Men             - 75 mg

Women         - 70 mg

Lactating women - 150 mg

Pregnant women - 100 mg

Infants           - 30 mg

Children:

1 to 3 yrs. - 35 mg

4 to 6 yrs. - 50 mg

7 to 9 yrs. - 60 mg

Boys:

10 to 12 yrs. - 75 mg

13 to 15 yrs. -80 mg

16 to 20 yrs. -100 mg

Girls:

10 to 12 yrs. - 75 mg

13 to 15 yrs. - 50 mg

16 to 20 yrs. - 80 mg

Fruits containing vitamin C

Whole orange      - 75 mg

4 oz orange juice  - 50 mg

Large grape fruit - 150 mg

Medium size tangerine - 25 mg

Lemon juice

1 tablespoonful - 7 mg

Lime (musumbi) - 75 mg

Where extra vitamin C is needed

  1. Smoking and alcoholic beverages: It is found on research that smoking causes great damage to vitamin C content in the human body. One cigarette destroys 25 mg of vitamin C in the body which means that 500 mg is neutralised for every packet of cigarettes smoked. If smoking is continued throughout the morning, the store of vitamin C will be entirely neutralised. To replace, foods containing vitamin C (ascorbic acid) must be taken during lunch, although this replacement will also be depleted if one continues to smoke in the afternoon. So a habitual smoker will always require much more vitamin C than the non-smoker. This will explain why those who smoke are more prone to infections than those who do not.
  2. Stress, strain and fatigue: Stress disorders demand increased intake of vitamin C. It is found that some fifty common disorders are attributed to stress and strain.
  3. Diseases and injuries: Patients suffering from burns or injuries require increased intake of vitamin C which is necessary for tissue regeneration. The use of antibiotics or barbiturates also causes deficiency of vitamin C in the body. So citrus fruits must be consumed in adequate quantities daily in order to keep healthy.
  4. Old age (aging): Older people require more vitamin C than younger people. It is found that large quantities of vitamin C strengthen the capillaries in certain vascular diseases like diabetes. Citrus fruits as a source of vitamin C and other nutrients are a particularly important food for persons whose normal digestive functions have been disturbed by illness or advanced age. The high vitamin C content of citrus fruits will not only tend to restore normalcy but also it will militate against further infection and help to heal tissue and capillary lesions.

A senile person is forgetful, confused and his speech rambles. He repeats a question that has been just answered. Memory is so poor that the individual does not recognise members of his own family. So senile patients and those approaching old age need substantial quantities of vitamin C to protect their brain from damage and to fight infections.

Ascorbic acid alone may be used in the preser­vation of vitamin C and treatment for deficiency, but the natural juices of citrus fruits will be more efficient and more complete in their action. In the citrus fruits, ascorbic acid is always accompanied by a bonus of other vital nutrients which nature in her wisdom has supplied. But the citrus fruits or juices should be taken fresh.

Nutritional value of citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and also contain numerous other vitamin factors, especially A, inositol and certain of vitamin B complex. They also supply appreciable supplementary amounts of minerals with which it becomes easy to maintain health properly. Minerals build rich blood, strong bones, nerve tissues and assist in regulating the body. Calcium found in orange makes them a valuable food for infants as it is necessary for growing bodies. Oranges are likewise useful for older people.

Lemons as medicine: Lemon juice cures menorrhagia, nose-bleeding, hepatitis, gastric ulcer if taken several times daily. Of all foods which have also been used as medicines, lemons are the most commonly known. The custom of using a slice of lemon when eating a fish dinner was originally intended for remedial purposes rather than for flavouring. It was believed that if a fish bone were to be accidentally swallowed during the meal, the juice of lemon could dissolve it. Lemons have been used as a household romedy for colds, rheumatism, sore throat, gastric and liver troubles, headache, heartburn, biliousness etc. Lemon juice mixed with glycerine is used for chapped lips or chilblains. For constipation, the juice of a lemon as taken in a glass of hot water one-half hour before breakfast. Local application of lemon juice is used to allay irritation caused by bites of gnats and similar insects.

Dr. Fred R. Klenner has described most elaborately the various uses of lemon in his book 'The Key to Good Health: Vitamin C. He has said that lemon juice is very useful in arthritis, cold, hypertension, sun-stroke and menorrhagia.

Other uses: removing stains: Use clear lemon Juice; it will remove stains from the hands.

Dr. Fred R. Klenner in his book 'The Key to Good Health: Vitamin C' has also confirmed the above­mentioned uses of lemon.

Dr. Donald Law in his book 'Herbs for cooking and for healing' has said that there are over 20, varieties of lemon but the juice of all of them is most helpful as a remedy for purifying the blood, for rubbing into the scalp against falling hair. Lemon juice mixed with shampoo acts as a tonic to the scalp. From medieval times the skin of lemon has been chewed to act as a cleaner of teeth and strengthener of gums. Naturopaths frequently recommend a course of lemon juice and water to rid the body of accumulated poisons and debris. You can extract more juice from a lemon if you place it in an oven for a few minutes and bake it slowly. The humble lemon contains vitamin A, B, C, G and the rare vitamin P.

Lemon juice cures erysipelas, carbuncle and, abscess. Dysentery quickly disappears after a few drinks of pure lemon or musumbi juice. Some naturopaths also cured diabetes by giving pure lemon or musumbi juice to drink. Jaundice and clotting of arteries by cholesterol are alleviated by prolonged course of lemon juice. Many diseases of the respiratory system can be cured by including lemon juice in the diet. It may be sweetened by adding sugar to it.

Dr. Richard Lucas in his book 'Nature's Medicines' has expressed the view that lemons were highly valued in ancient times as medicine and for prevention of scurvy. Scurvy is a disease characterised by a spongy condition of the gums, loosening of the teeth, foul breath, debility and anaemia. There is also a tendency to haemorrhage especially into the mucous membranes and skin. Scurvy was common among the crewmen on the old time sailing vessels where the diet consisted entirely of dried or salted biscuits or loaf. The scientific answer to scurvy is vitamin C which is available in plenty in citrus fruits.

Drs. Wood and Ruddock in their book 'Encyclopaedia of health and home' remarked that lomon juice may be used in curing asthma, cough and cold, corns, headache, heartburn, vomiting and whooping cough.

Dr. M. Grieve in his book 'Modem Herbal' has said that washing the face with lemon juice and water is said to remove tan, freckles or blackheads.

Lemon juice rubbed in the scalp before shampooing is considered as an effective remedy for dandruff. A lemon milk preparation is employed for whitening and softening the skin of the hands and face. Lemon juice is an all-round beauty aid. Lemon juice makes a nice rinse for the hair. It will remove the soap film much better than plain water.

Dr. Joseph E. Meyer in his book 'Nature's Remedies' has said that a few drops of lemon juice sprinkled over sliced bananas, apples or grapes will prevent them from turning brown for a considerable period of time. Frequent applications of lemon juice is said to remove ink, rust, or mild stains from cloth. For this purpose some recipes call for the addition of milk or salt to lemon juice.

Dr. A. N. Ghei in his book 'The Book of Food and Nutrition' has expressed that the addition of lemon juice to rice, boiled fish etc. gives a special flavour and has some specific action in promoting digestion. It is also used in salads. Being very rich in vitamin C, it acts as an antiscorbutic.

Dr. W. Hale-White in his book 'Materia Medica' has said that lemon-juice is used to relieve thirst and to make effervescing mixtures and drinks. Its action is the same as that of citric acid.

Nicholas Culpepper in his book 'Complete Herbal' has written that fruit and vegetable juice offers an excellent remedy for arthritis, bronchitis, intestinal disorders, stomach disorders and urinary disorders. He has observed that cooking destroys most of the natural vitamins and minerals. He has advised to consume raw fresh fruit and vegetable juices as far as practicable.

Harrison Dayal in his book 'Ancient Indian Energy Food' and Kristine Nolfi in her book 'My experiences with living food' have given various uses of lemon. Ramon Bernard in his book 'Herbal elixirs of life' has identified lemon as the 'miracle fruit'. Nelson Coon in his book 'Using plants for healing' has narrated the various medicinal uses of lemon.

Benefit and uses of Lemon:

  1. Arthritis, rheumatic diseases: A few drinks of lemon juice is the surest remedy for rheumatic fever, painful joints, lumbago and sciatica. There will be no cardiac complications. Those with incipient arthritis were given ascorbic acid therapy and similar results were achieved.
  2. Common cold: Lemon juice or vitamin C tablets taken three or four times daily along with garlic cures cough and cold.
  3. Oedema: Oedema of the muscular region produced by vascular decompensation often responds more rapidly when 10 to 33 ounces of orange or grape-fruit juice is given in addition to 500 mg of vitamin C for three or four days.
  4. Hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases: Many illnesses of the aged may be prevented with an adequate intake of vitamin C daily. Particularly cerebrovascular diseases and heart disorders may be largely reduced.
  5. Prickly heat: Quick relief is obtained by taking a few drinks of lemon juice daily.
  6. Shock: To prevent surgical shock surgeons apply ascorbic acid routinely before and after surgery. 500 mg by mouth one hour before surgery to patients of average weight helps to useful in preventing shock and post-operative weakness.
  7. Menorrhagia and haemorrhage: A few drinks of lemon juice or narangi juice will certainly give some relief in acute menorrhagia.
  8. Asthma: Many cases of asthma have been relieved by taking a half-spoonful of lemon-juice before each meal and upon retiring.
  9. Cough and cold: Roasted lemon when properly prepared is one of the most effective remedies for cough and cold.
  10. Corns: Lemon juice applied to corns a few times a day makes an effective remedy. Bind the corn and leave it overnight, you can expect wonderful results.
  11. Headache: Lemon tea relieves headache.
  12. Heartburn: If you take one glass of lemon juice, you will surely get relief from it.
  13. Nausea, vomiting and travel sickness: If one takes a glass of lemon juice before leaving home, one can return from travelling without any trouble.
  14. Sun-stroke or heat-stroke: Lemon or lime (musumbi) juice prevents sun-stroke or heat­stroke.
  15. Whooping cough: Lemon or musumbi (lime) juice is a household remedy for whooping cough.
  16. Weakness and general debility: Lemon or musumbi (lime) juice offers an excellent remedy in general debility and weakness.
  17. Low vitality: Lemon or lime (musumbi) juice removes this condition very quickly.

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