Lime belongs to the family of Rutaceae. It belongs to the same genus as other citrus fruits including orange, lemon, and grapefruits. This small tropical plant is branched with sharp spines that can grow to a height of 5 meters. It produces small white flowers, and the fruit is described to be yellowish green and shaped like an egg. Lime also goes by the name key lime, sour lime, Mexican lime, and West Indian lime, to name a few.
Lime is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisines. Its juice is used in a variety of sauces, dishes, and drinks. But aside from being a star in the kitchen, lime (Citrus aurantifolia) is a source of essential oil that has proven to provide several health benefits.
It is believed to have originated from South East Asia and was introduced into Spain in the 13th century where it spread throughout the rest of Europe. According to history, Christopher Columbus took a few lime fruits in his 1493 voyage which brought about the cultivation of the plant in other warm places. It was only in the 16th century when lime was brought to the United States by the Spaniards, specifically in Florida Keys.
The fruit is commonly famous for its juice, which is used for flavoring and is packed with vitamins. The juice is squeezed from the fruit while the lime oil is extracted from the fruit’s peels by cold compression. Other times, oil is extracted from dried peels through steam distillation. Lime oil has a light green color. It is one of the most affordable oil in the world. It’s invigorating sweet, tart, and citrusy aroma plus the flavor it gives out made it one of the favorite essential oils.
Key components of lime essential oil are same as the rest of the oils belonging to the citrus group. The most distinctive components of citrus essential oils are. d-Limonene, γ-terpinene, linalool, linalyl acetate, α-terpineol, geranyl acetate, terpinolene, and β-pinene. These compounds give the oils some of its medicinal properties.
Traditional Uses of Lime
According to stories, lime essential oil was used to cleanse, purify, and renew the spirit. Lime oil was also used to make men’s perfume. The long trips at sea mixed with poor diet had caused health problems to British sailors in the 19th century. They got weak and suffered from anemia, gingivitis, and skin hemorrhages, common symptoms of a scurvy caused by vitamin C deficiency. To prevent this, the sailors were given lime to cure and treat the disease.
Benefits of Using Lime Essential Oil
To heal minor cuts and prevent infection
Lime's antiseptic property helps treat wounds by protecting it against infections. The longer the infection is kept away from the wound, the faster it is to heal.
Lime essential oil effectively works against infections in the throat, mouth, digestive tract, and urinary system when ingested. Aside from working against bacteria, it also fights viruses that cause the flu, colds and coughs, and even mumps and measles.
To promote a healthy digestive system
Lime essential oil has the ability to work against bacteria and is useful in treating diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and food poisoning. It fights bacteria found in the digestive system that could cause the disorders and disruptions.
It is also known to increase appetite. The oil’s aroma stimulates the release of digestive juices, awakening the digestive system, and encouraging the feeling of hunger.
Fever is a sign that the immune system of the body is working against infections or unwanted foreign materials. A variety of bacteria, virus, and fungi can cause fever. Lime essential oil is a potent substance which works against the common causes of infections, eventually reducing the fever.
Promotes blood coagulation
Lime is hemostatic, an agent that can stop bleeding by either enhancing coagulation or by enabling the contraction of blood vessels. Lime essential oil is used to reduce hemorrhaging by enhancing blood vessel contraction.
Fights signs of aging
Limonene, a compound found in lime, is a known natural antioxidant. It removes free radicals that attack and damage skin cells. Without these free radicals, the appearance of wrinkles, sunspots, and fine lines are reduced.
The lime essential oil also works as an astringent which keeps the skin firm, tone up muscles and tissues, and reduce the occurrence of sagging.
Lime essential oil helps relieve toothaches and strengthen the gums and its grip on the teeth. It works against bacteria in the mouth and mitigates the risk of getting gum and teeth disease and infections. This way the teeth do not easily loosen and fall out.
For acne treatment
Lime essential oil is used to treat and prevent breakouts. Its antibacterial property targets the root of acne formation and helps relieve the skin of redness. It also works to brighten dull looking skin.
For a healthy respiratory system
Lime oil, when used in aromatherapy, relieve congestion. For people suffering from cold and cough, incorporating it in warm bath water or used in steam inhalation can help clear up the airways, giving a feeling of relief.
Lime oil’s uplifting scent can reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety. Used in aromatherapy, the oil’s aroma promotes mental clarity and increased energy and focus, leading to emotional and mental stability.
Lime blends well with clary sage and grapefruit essential oil and helps brighten the mood.
For healthy hair and scalp
This essential oil is effective in treating dry and itchy scalp that leads to dandruffs. The oil can be added to the shampoo and massaged onto the scalp and hair to give it a smoother and a more luscious look.
Safety Tips and Precautions
This citrus oil has long been proven to be good on the skin and helps keep infections at bay. However, lime essential oil, especially those that were extracted through cold pressing, is phototoxic just like other citrus oils. It is best to avoid sun exposure for approximately 24 hours after applying it on the skin. Exposure to sunlight or UV rays can cause skin reactions such as blisters, rashes, or pigmentation.
It is best to dilute the oil with carrier oil before using it on the skin. A small skin test is also recommended to assess the skin’s reaction to lime essential oil.
For pregnant or those who are currently breastfeeding, it’s advised to avoid using all essential oils unless advised by a doctor.