Despite the benefits of lemon, it can cause some harm to human health if not used incorrectly, especially in case of an excessive intake. In this article, we will shed light on the lemon side effects to help the reader to avoid the health damages that it may cause him.

The inappropriate use of this citrus fruit can cause the following negative impacts on our health.

Gastrointestinal irritation

When you eat lemon on an empty stomach, you get a feeling of heartburn. This is frequent in patients who suffer from stomach problems such as esophageal reflux or high heartburn.

This is because the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach does not close normally like other healthy people. So the acid returns to the esophagus again and causes heartburn.

Teeth erosion

Excessive consumption of lemon and frequent contact of teeth with lemon leads to the erosion of the enamel layer that protects the teeth. So it is preferable to drink lemon juice with a pipette to reduce contact with the teeth.

On the other hand, eating a lot of lemons exposes you to mouth ulcers, and negatively affects the mucous membranes.

Delaying menstruation

Drinking lemon juice during the menstrual cycle may reduce the amount of bleeding. It may sometimes cut or delay it. Despite this, more research and studies need to be carried out on this issue so as to get a more scientific view of the effects of lemon on the menstrual cycle.

Diuresis and dehydration

Excessive drinking of water and lemon may cause frequent diuresis. Lemon is highly rich in ascorbic acid. which is known for its diuretic properties. i.e., it increases urine production in the kidneys, helping the body to get rid of excess fluid and sodium very quickly.

Provoking nausea and vomiting

Lemon contains vitamin C, which is one of the important nutrients that benefit the body. But too much of it causes health problems such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach disorders.

The reason for this is that the human body cannot absorb large amounts of this vitamin. Consequently, the excess amount of it rushes into the intestines and causes nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Kidney stone formation

Lemon peel is widely used in cooking. But it can lead to the formation of kidney stones. This is because it contains oxalate which turns into crystals inside the body and prevents the absorption of calcium. This condition results in the formation of kidney stones.

Increase of iron in the blood

We know that vitamin C encourages iron absorption in the body. But in turn, increased levels of iron in the blood lead to serious health problems.

The reason for this is that the body cannot get rid of the excess amount of iron that enters it. As a result, it stores in the liver, heart muscle, and endocrine glands, in addition to the testicles in men.

Repeated migraine attacks

Consuming large amounts of lemon can cause annoying migraine attacks. The reason behind this condition is the amino acid known as thiamine, which is present in huge quantities in lemon. This acid is responsible for the sudden flow of blood to the brain, which in turn causes migraines.

Skin damage

Someone may advise you to use lemon to treat a given skin problem. While this can suit you, it may not suit others.  In many cases, putting lemon on the skin and exposing it to the sun can have serious, immediate side effects. In the following part of this article, you will find most of these side effects.

Skin dryness

Example of a dry skin

Lemon juice has astringent properties for the skin. So applying it locally to the skin in moderation may help the skin to get rid of excess sebum. Although such property may benefit the skin and protect it from the excessive accumulation of natural oils and fats, it may backfire.

Excessive use of lemon juice on the skin can strip the skin of its natural oils in an unhealthy way, which may lead to dry skin. This dehydration may appear in the form of rough skin patches.

Skin irritation

The local application of lemon to the skin can lead to skin irritation. This type of potential damage to the skin is attributed to the acidic nature of lemon. While the pH of the skin ranges between 4.5 – and 5.5, the pH of natural lemon juice is approximately 2.

In other words, there is a big difference between the amount of acidity of lemon and skin. This makes lemon an irritant, and this irritation may appear in the form of various symptoms, such as:

  • stinging feeling
  • skin redness
  • Peeling of the skin
  • Contact dermatitis; i.e., an itchy rash

Skin irritation is one of the most common side effects caused by lemon to the skin. The severity of the irritation may vary from person to person. But it may reach its maximum if the person has sensitive skin.

Sunburn and chemical burns

The potential damage of lemon to the skin is not limited to dryness and irritation. Lemon may also cause more serious complications. The topical application of lemon to the skin may increase the degree of skin sensitivity to the sun, which will make you more prone to sunburn, especially if you are of fair skin.

Exposure to the sun during the day, while the lemon juice is still on the skin, can cause severe and painful chemical burns.


One of the possible side effects of lemon to the skin is that the local application of lemon to the skin may stimulate a case of vegetative photodermatitis, especially when exposing the skin to the sun while lemon is on it. This condition appears in the form of a sharp, dark-colored rash.

Lemon juice contains furocoumarin compounds. Although these compounds are safe under normal conditions, their interaction with sunlight may turn them harmful because this interaction can cause DNA damage to cells and skin infections. In that case, the following symptoms may appear:

  • skin redness.
  • Skin swelling.
  • Sores or blisters on the skin.
  • Pains and burns.

From clinical observations, these symptoms can leave scars on the skin.

Vitiligo (Leukoderma)

Although skin lightening may be the desired effect for some individuals, lemon may cause unhealthy skin lightening. We have noticed that applying lemon locally to the skin may trigger a skin problem known as vitiligo.

Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin begins to lose part of the melanin pigment. This may lead to the appearance of light-colored spots on separate areas of the skin.

Dark spots

Although lemon is known for its potential ability to lighten the skin, in certain cases it may cause the opposite effect by worsening the dark spots. Therefore, you should be cautious enough when applying it to the skin, especially if your skin is likely to develop spots and scars after recovering from pimples or wounds.

How to avoid lemon side effects

To avoid the above-mentioned damages, it is preferable to apply the following recommendations:

Lemon mixed with water to avoid
its side effects
  • Avoid using lemon completely if you have sensitive or dark skin, and if you have severe, deep pimples.
  • Make sure to use sunscreen without neglecting the period of using natural lemon recipes.
  • Avoid using lemon on the skin for several days continuously if you plan to engage in a daytime leisure activity.
  • Try to always apply lemon to the skin at night. You must wash the face from lemon masks very well before going out and exposing it to the sun.
  • Avoid leaving lemon on the skin for more than several minutes. Don’t forget to wash the skin with lemon before going to bed.
  • Don’t use lemon masks daily. Applying them at intervals and a few times per month is enough. 
  • Always mix lemon with other natural ingredients to dilute it as much as possible.
  • It is necessary to stop using lemon masks in case of skin irritation. Make sure to contact the doctor if the lemon complications persist in the skin for a long time without any improvement.
  • Never drink pure lemon juice on an empty stomach. It may cause problems in the intestines and stomach because of its acidic properties.
  • To get the most benefits, always mix a little lemon juice with a glass of water before drinking it on an empty stomach.

Ways to use lemon and avoid its side effects

To take advantage of the benefits of lemon if eaten on an empty stomach, we have to use it in the following ways:

  • Lemon slices: They are best eaten with the peel to get more benefits.
  • Lemon juice: Squeeze the lemon and add water only, or add other types of natural juices to reduce its acidity.
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