By Abdulkarim Safiyanu
(Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency)
The use of fruits and vegetables in natural medicine is an integral part of traditional medicine practice over the years. Fruits are known to supply the body with vitamins and minerals and, sometimes, may even provide cure for some body ailments.
More often than not, when lemons are mentioned, what readily comes to mind is the extremely sour taste felt when eating it raw. But the importance of lemons cannot be over emphasised. They are often regarded as versatile fruits because they have a lot of health and culinary uses. The health benefits of lemon are due to its many nourishing elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenicacid copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and protein.
It is a fruit that contains flavonoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties. It helps to prevent diabetes and fever. Other health benefits of lemon include:
Relieves symptoms of cold, cough and sore throat
For centuries, lemon has been used to relieve throat infections. This is strongly due to its well-known antibacterial properties. Lemon juice assists in relieving respiratory and breathing problems, such as asthma attack. Being rich in vitamin C, it boosts the immune system to speed up recovery after an infection. Lemon and honey can be added to tea and taken three to four times a day when you have a cold.
Helps with indigestion and constipation
Indigestion, a common health problem, is majorly caused by inability to secrete digestive juices, which leads to discomfort. To resolve this health condition, lemon should be squeezed into warm water and taken first thing in the morning. This may be sweetened with honey or molasses.
This lemon water is best taken half to one hour before or after breakfast. The problem of flatulence and bloating can also be managed through natural means. Drinking lemon juice daily can flush the digestive tract naturally, thereby subsequently averting any disease that may follow.
Regulates high blood pressure
A study published in Science Daily revealed that a daily dose of vitamin C can significantly reduce an individual’s blood pressure. Nitric oxide is a natural component of the human body that relaxes blood vessels, thereby helping to regulate blood pressure. Intake of vitamin C helps to protect the levels of nitric oxide and allows it to perform its natural function.
Lemon contains potassium which works with sodium to regulate blood pressure and various studies have shown that people who consume more potassium tend to have lower blood pressure. It is also used to reduce mental stress and depression.
Promotes weight loss
The use of lemon in weight loss is a practice that has stood the test of time. To achieve this, lemon is mixed with water and taken regularly. It is beneficial because the combination of lemon and water is a natural mixture which doesn’t add any calories to the body; it simply cleanses the bowels and eliminates lingering wastes which tend to add weight to the body. It also reduces hunger cravings due to the pectin fibres that are present in lemon.
Helps with hair, skin and dental care
Lemon juice can be applied to the skin for the treatment of acne and eczema, due to its antiseptic properties. It can be used for sun burns, wrinkles, blackheads, as well as bee sting. It has been used for years in eradicating dandruffs, hair loss and scalp-related issues.
Applying lemon juice to the hair directly can give it an exquisite shine. Lemon juice, mixed with baking soda, can be used to whiten the teeth.
Drinking too much lemon can eventually lead to tooth erosion, heartburn, frequent urination or dehydration. Tooth erosion can be managed by diluting the lemon juice with water, drinking the lemon with straw, rinsing the mouth right after drinking lemon water or avoiding brushing the teeth for 60 minutes after.
Heartburn can be relieved by cutting back on acidic food and drinks. While dehydration can be managed by cutting back on the amount of lemon juice added to the water.
The medicinal use of lemon in Nigeria provides opportunities in sourcing, production, distribution, sales, regulation and research.