Since ancient times, the benefits of olive oil and lemon have been known — lauded as both nutritious food and effective folk remedies. In 400 B.C.E., the renowned Greek physician and "Father of Medicine," Hippocrates, prescribed olive oil for more than 60 medical conditions, calling it the "Great Healer." He regarded citrus, such as lemon, to be a great energizer for the body, counteracting phlegm and lethargy. Together, these two powerhouse remedies bring time-tested benefits that also stand up to modern scientific research.
Healing Benefits of Olive Oil
Hippocrates wasn't the only ancient Greek singing the praises of olive oil; Homer, who authored great works, including "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey," called the substance "liquid gold," and today's scientists tend to agree.
Olive oil contains a host of health-building ingredients, including vitamin E, monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, bioavailable plant phenols, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. The oil is a staple ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet, recommended by doctors for a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease, depression, dementia, fatty liver disease and more.
Recent studies confirm what Hippocrates knew long ago. A 2018 study review by the Sapienza University of Rome examined worldwide results that confirm olive oil's benefits as a vasodilatory nutrient, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that reduces stress on the cardiovascular system.
Another 2018 study by the Center for Gender-Specific Medicine showed it plays a positive healing role in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis.
Lemon's Anti-Disease Benefits
Lemon is also helpful for digestion and, when concentrated into its essential oil form, can kill off dangerous microbes such as Listeria monocytogenes according to a 2017 study published in BioMed Central. The Journal of Oral Hygiene and Health reports that a 30 percent solution of lemon juice in water is as effective as an oral rinse made with povidone iodine when it comes to antibacterial activity. But lemon juice went one step further by inhibiting bacteria from reproducing after the rinse.
Lemon added to food as an ingredient can help unleash carotenoids from foods like carrots, making the nutrient more bioavailable to the body. Lemon's high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, limonin and other nutrients pack this little yellow fruit with health benefits. It's been found helpful for conditions as diverse as kidney stones, cancer, liver disease and weight loss.
Combine This Dynamic Duo
Start your day with a glass of water mixed with the juice of one lemon and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and you just might cure constipation and boost your immunity. That's according to women's holistic wellness coach and doctor of physical therapy Brenda Walding. Both ingredients have a host of healing properties that, when mixed, deliver a powerful tonic serving up many healing benefits. Hippocrates would surely approve.
Feeling that little tickle in your throat during cold and flu season? Whip up an effective combo of olive oil, honey and lemon by adding a quarter cup of each to a Mason jar, blending well and storing in the refrigerator for up to three months.
Or follow advice given by Food Republic by heating the oil and infusing with a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme or ginger before stirring in the honey and lemon. The phenols in the olive oil will coat and fight inflammation, while the other ingredients go to work on the microbes.
- Greece Is: Superfood: Why Greek Olive Oil Is a Food and Medicine in One
- Hippocrates Health Institute: 5 Great Reasons to Start Your Day With Water and Lemon
- Neos Kosmos: Food and Healing in Ancient Greece
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Hippocrates
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health: Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Diseases: Benefits for Human Health
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health: Nutrigenomics of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health: Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health: Nutraceutical Value of Citrus Flavanones and Their Implications in Cardiovascular Disease
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health: Citrus Lemon Essential Oil
- Journal of Oral Hygiene and Health: Bacteriostatic Effect of Lemon Fruit Juice
- Food Republic: Flu Be Gone: How to Make Your Own Cough Syrup
- Blooming Mandala: Honey, Lemon and Olive Oil Cough and Cold Remedy
- Paleo f(x): The Ultimate Morning Drink: Cure Constipation and Boost Immunity Now