This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The special dietetic value of Lemons (Citrus limonum) consists in their potash salts, citrate, malate, and tartrate, which are severally antiscorbutic, and of service in promoting biliary digestion. Each fluid ounce of the fresh juice contains about forty-four grains of citric acid, with gum, sugar, and a residuum which yields when incinerated, potash, lime, and phosphoric acid. The exterior rind furnishes a grateful aromatic bitter, with an essential volatile fragrant oil. Lemon juice exercises certain sedative effects, whereby it can allay nervous palpitation of the heart, and can alleviate the pain of cancerous ulceration when invading the tongue. Dr. Brandini, of Florence, discovered this remarkable anodyne property of fresh lemon juice in cancer of the tongue, by the case of a patient who when suffering grievously from that dire affection found marvellous relief to the part by casually sucking a lemon to slake his feverish thirst. As a substitute for the lemon juice, citric acid may be employed, dissolved in cold water, one drachm to eight fluid ounces of water, to be applied with a camel-hair brush; likewise, at other times, pledgets of lint saturated with the juice, or lotion.
For a cold in the head, if the juice of a ripe lemon be squeezed into the palm of the hand, and strongly sniffed into the nostrils two or three separate times, a cure will generally be set going.
"Into an oval form the citrons rolled Beneath thick coats their juicy pulp unfold; From these the palate feels a pungent smart, Which, though they sting the tongue, yet heal the heart".
It is remarkable that the acid of lemons, whilst harmful to rabbits, cats, and other small animals, by lowering the heart's action, and liquefying the blood, does not diminish the blood's coagulability in man, but will specially correct the thin impoverished liquidity of that circulating fluid which constitutes scurvy. Throughout Italy, a decoction of fresh Lemons is extolled as a specific against intermittent fever. Also Lemon-juice is decidedly beneficial against jaundice from torpidity of the biliary functions. Lemons furnish, as aforesaid, combinations of potash with organic acids - the citrate, malate, and tartrate - which soon undergo combustion in the body, and .set free their alkaline base. Thus these salts tend to promote biliary digestion. Again, the fresh juice will serve to stay bleedings, when ice and astringent styptics shall have failed; and, if applied externally, it will promptly relieve any itching of the skin without soreness.
For heartburn which comes on from other causes than acid fermentation of greasy rich, sweet foods, it is most helpful to suck a thin slice of fresh lemon dipped in table salt. The lemon juice does not remain acid in the stomach, but presently becomes an alkaline base, which neutralizes the gastric excess of acids. The first effect is refreshing, and next it proves sedative. The dietetic use of lemon-juice diluted freely with water will obviate a liability to gall stones, as frequent experimental use thereof has shown. The pips of a fresh lemon, or orange, if bruised together with a sufficient quantity of sugar, will serve to extirpate worms from the intestines of children. The Chinese method of rubbing parts severely neuralgic with the wet surface of half a cut lemon is highly useful. Fresh lemon-juice when squeezed out from the fruit, will not keep because of its mucilage, which soon ferments. It can be preserved by bringing it to the boiling point, and then sealing closely in bottles to protect it from the access of air, these bottles being made boiling hot at the time.
A German professor has shown that lemon-juice has a special faculty for destroying the bacillus of diphtheria. He has tried this successfully in fifteen acute cases, only one of which died; likewise in eighty other cases of severe sore throat. The diluted juice was used as a gargle, and slices of lemon were sucked frequently, whilst rejecting the pulp. For a restless person of active plethoric circulation, and of ardent temperament, a Lemon Squash, unsweetened, of not more than half a tumblerful, is an excellent quieting drink at, or towards bedtime; or a whole lemon may be made hot on the oven top, being turned from time to time, and being put presently when soft, and moist, into a teacup; then by stabbing it about with the blade of a pen knife the juice will be let escape, and should be drunk with a little hot water, not sweetened. Fresh lemon-juice, diluted so as to avoid any smarting effect, is a capital cleanser of the skin. Eugene Aram, the Knaresborough schoolmaster, on the eve of his execution at York Castle, 1759, for the murder of Daniel Clarke, (a shoemaker,) committed thirteen years before, at his last interview with Sally, his favourite daughter, bade her make a wash of fresh lemon-juice for her freckles.
Sydney Smith, in writing about Foston, his remote country cure, in Yorkshire, said, "it stands twelve miles from a lemon." He kept a village medicine chest which contained "heart's delight," the comfort of his old women; also "the gentle jog;" the "bull-dog" for more serious cases; "Peterspuke, and up with it;" "Rub-a-dub," the best of embrocations; and "dead stop, which settles the matter at once." The juice of a lemon mixed with honey, in a breakfastcupful of hot water, is quite a specific for sore throat which is catarrhal, also for the teasing cough which troubles some persons in damp weather.
In rheumatic fever, when the system is saturated with mischievous, sour, fermentative products, fresh lemon-juice, mixed in equal proportions with boiling water, and allowed to become cool, is an excellent antidote, to be taken pretty often. The citric acid of the lemons being combined with potash, becomes burnt off quickly in the body, leaving its alkaline base to neutralize the rheumatic acids, and thus subduing the disease. As a nutritive lemonade, combined with white of egg, take two lemons, using their yellow rinds for flavouring, whilst rejecting the inner white rinds. Slice the lemon, and pour over them, together with the outer yellow rinds, a pint of boiling water; stir until cooled to the temperature of ordinary tea, and then strain. The whites of two eggs are next to be slowly added, whilst briskly stirring the liquid. Whip the mixture for several minutes, and then strain; add sugar to taste, and drink the lemonade cold. The pips should always be first taken out.