The beneficial properties of lemons and other citrus fruits are under investigation all over the globe. When it comes to your health, lemons pack a lot of protective and restorative power.
Along with the flesh, lemon peel contains Vitamin C and many other compounds. Recent studies have shown that they can be an effective antimicrobial agent. Antimicrobials are integral to the practice of modern medicine. The term refers to agents that can kill or inhibit the action of a microorganism, while at the same time causing no damage to the host.
With the widespread use of antimicrobials, and antibiotics – which are a subset of antimicrobials – in particular over the last several decades, resistance on the part of the bacteria is an increasing problem.
In 2011, researchers at the Department of Microbiology, Shivaji University in Kolhapur, India conducted a study specifically into the antimicrobial compounds present in lemon peel. The beauty of lemon peel is that it is readily available; in fact, tons are discarded every year as waste.
What makes lemon and other citrus peels special? They are an excellent source of biologically active compounds known as flavanones and many polymethoxylated flavones, which are extremely rare in the plant world.
The researchers found that lemon peel extract was an effective antimicrobial against three common bacteria:
• Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria that is found all over the place, including soil, water, plant and animal tissue. It can cause a number of infections, including urinary tract infections and pneumonia, and can even be fatal. • Salmonella typhimurium is found in the human intestine, and can contaminate foods. It can cause salmonella or food poisoning, gastroenteritis, and even Typhoid fever. • Micrococcus aureus is usually found in dry or salty environments, and can cause septic shock.
The researchers theorized that the flavonoids act against infection by defending the body against pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses.