By contributor Erin Jones
Did you know: for a mere 50 cents (give or take) you can marinate and season your dinner, boost your immune system, relieve a sore throat, soothe an upset stomach (as well as an array of digestive disturbances), purify your liver, exfoliate your skin, treat dandruff, prevent cancer, and possibly reduce your stress level?
Just grab a regular old lemon! This citrus fruit is one of the most versatile pieces of produce on the planet and has aided in cooking, health, and beauty secrets for hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of years.
In the Kitchen
Lemon is a great way to get full flavor from foods without adding fat or salt. Try a squeeze of lemon as a zesty finishing touch on fresh veggies or fruits. And here’s another secret: not only does lemon taste great in marinades for chicken, fish and meat, but the acids help to break down the proteins and tissues, which tenderizes the meat.
In Your Basket of Health Secrets
A drink of hot water, lemon juice (and a teaspoon of honey, if need be) has been used for centuries to treat colds, throat infections, food cravings, stomach gas, and constipation. Adding a slice of lemon to hot herbal teas may also help relieve stress levels.
Lemons are overflowing with vitamin C, are low in calories, and high in potassium. They also contain compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
To reap all the beneficial properties of lemons, try adding a few slices to your ice water. You should be drinking plenty anyway, and the fresh citrus flavor will make the routine not so much of a routine.
Lemons also assist in cleansing the liver–the health of which is vital to our overall well-being. The oils in lemons help stimulate our livers to expel toxins from our bodies.
Here is a cleanse Mireille uses occasionally. (You should do it only once or twice yearly. The end of winter is a perfect time for this detoxification, but you’ll know best when your body is craving some cleansing.)
Instructions: For a few days, eat lightly and first thing in the morning start your day with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and one tablespoon of lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar). Repeat for the next 4 days to one week at the very most.
In Front of the Mirror
For all the beneficial effects of lemons inside our bodies, there are even more uses on the outside. Best of all, you’ll save hundreds of dollars on beauty products!
Lemon is fantastic for our skin. The natural fruit acids gently remove dead skin cells and lighten age spots, unwanted freckles and facial discolorations. The acidity zaps oiliness and cleans our pores without stripping the skin of its natural oil balance.
- Homemade Astringent: All you need is fresh squeezed lemon juice. Dab onto a cotton ball and apply to face (or simply run a slice of lemon over your face) each morning. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse. For especially dark age spots, place a slice of lemon directly onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes. Repeat daily for about one week.
- Homemade Exfoliant: Slice a lemon in half and dip into granulated sugar. Rub vigorously on rough patches of skin, especially the feet, elbows, and kneecaps.
On Your Locks
Lemon also works wonders in our hair—but caution, lemon may interact with chemically treated and processed hair. These rinses work best on non-treated/dyed and naturally lighter colored hair.
Suffer from dandruff? Try mixing a few tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice with equal parts olive oil. Rub into the scalp and allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse and shampoo as usual.
Calling all blondes: A rinse of warm water with some fresh squeezed lemon juice (do not rinse out) will add an incredible sheen and bounce to your locks.