The Lemon and the Orange

By Dr. Edward Podolsky

                The lemon became popular during the 12th century when the Arabs brought this fruit into Spain, and by 1494 the lemon was being cultivated in the Azores in great quantities and shipped to all parts of the world, particularly to England.

The lemon had been enjoying a deserved popularity for something like three hundred years before its health-giving properties were discovered. In 1753 Dr. James Lind, a Scottish physician, who had for many years been a ship’s surgeon in the British Navy, published a very interesting book which dealt with scurvy, a much dreaded disease at that time. This doctor pointed out the fact that after a person had been deprived of raw fruits and vegetables for forty days he developed scurvy. For this disease medicine offered no remedy which accomplished as much as the lemon.

Dr. Blane, in 1785, confirmed the experiences of Dr. Lind with lemons, and persuaded the British naval authorities to give them a trial. Accordingly in 1793 the Suffolk, a flagship of 74 guns, made a voyage of nineteen weeks to the West Indies without touching any port. Each man was given ¾ oz. of lemon juice with 2 0z. of brown sugar. In addition to the customary ration. On arrival of the Suffolk at Madras there had not been a single case of scurvy. The results were so impressive that lemon juice was introduced as a regular item of the naval ration in 1795. One ounce was given daily to each man, and this single measure completely eradicated scurvy from the British Navy. The introduction of lemon juice as an anti-scorbutic may be regarded as the greatest sanitary improvement of all times.

Not only among human beings has the lemon been established as a fruit of definite healthful qualities. It was Darwin and Buffon who observed that monkeys were in the habit if eating lemons when feeling quite well. Darwin observed several monkeys which had been made drunk on alcohol the previous day, and of all the foods placed before them they ate only the lemons.

The lemon, when analyzed, is found to consist of some very essential elements. The whole fruit consists of 3.22% ash, 45.13% potassium, 2.73% sodium, 30.24% calcium, 5.15% magnesium, 0.77% iron oxide, 13.62% phosphoric acid, 3.08% sulphuric acid and 0.48% chlorine. The edible portion of lemon consists of 1.2% protein, 0.7% fat and 8.5% carbohydrates. The fuel value per pound calories is 201. Lemon is rich in alkaline elements and has as much as 7% citric acid. This citric acid is easily oxidized in the body into carbonic acid and water. In this way it serves as an alkalinizer and is of great value in overcoming acidosis from whatever cause, particularly acidosis associated with fevers and post-operative conditions.

Even when lemon juice is reduced almost to the dry state it still retains its anti-scorbutic power. This resistance has been attributed to its acidity. Further, the concentrated anti-scorbutic fraction of lemon juice has been found to contain traces of iron, phosphorus, sulphur and iodine in their purest state.

For many years lemons have been used in the treatment of obesity. The usual method is to take the expressed juice of three fresh lemons in sweetened water three times daily to the exclusion of milk and fatty foods. To make it more tempting and for the sake of variety an occasional spoonful of loganberry juice may be added. The effect of lemon juice upon foods seems to exert an inhibitory power over steapsin and amyopsin, which retards the digestion of fats and carbohydrates.

During the course of a fever illness lemons constitute some of the most valuable of foods. Instead of water lemonade may be given to greater advantage. This not only allays the thirst but also helps to overcome acidosis. Somewhat later in the disease egg lemonade may be given.

Lemonade is one of the most healthful of drinks at our disposal. One health authority has gone so far to say that if we would begin the day with hot lemonade instead of a cup of coffee we would be a healthier race. Lemonade, when used with water which has been carbonated, is very refreshing and efficacious in stomach upsets. Many people with gout have obtained relief from their condition when they have been in the habit of taking several lemons daily.

Lemon juice has been found to be beneficial in the prevention and alleviation of acute tonsillitis. It may be taken with a little sugar, and also used to advantage as a gargle. A famous remedy among great French singers for many years for throat ailments with hoarseness is contained in the following recipe which has been handed down for several generations: “Carefully roast a large lemon in the oven, being careful that the skin dies not break and the juice escape. To the hot juice add enough sugar to be made into syrup. A teaspoonful taken every half hour will bring about speedy relief.”

Lemon Juice of Value in Fever

A further use may be made of lemon juice in keeping the mouth moist in fevers and in other conditions in which there is a great loss of body fluids. The juice alone may be used in moistening the lips and cleansing the tongue or it may be combined with an equal volume of glycerine.

In children’s ailments the lemon is one of the most valuable of all our fruits. Dr. Barenberg and other child specialists have noted, in a series of infants who had received lemon-juice-milk for periods of from six to twelve months, that they manifested a better rate of growth than those who received other milk preparations. Lemon-juice-milk is whole milk to which approximately 28 cubic centimetres of lemon-juice per litre is added. This milk is of value also as a food for children suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory ailments.

Dr. Osman, an English physician, several years ago found that he could alleviate asthma in children with lemon juice and sugar. He fed his patients an increased amount of sugar in lemonade. If these children were kept on this lemon diet their attacks of asthma were prevented. The treatment consisted of giving three teaspoonfuls of powdered sugar in lemonade three times a day between meals.

That lemon exerts a germicidal action on the intestines is not doubted. Many years ago Drs. Kitasato and Van Ermengen demonstrated experimentally that the typhus bacillus as well as the bacillus of cholera were destroyed in a ½% solution of citric acid.

Drs. Sarsum and Gray, of Santa Barbara, California, have used with success some sour citrus fruit juices in the treatment of hydrochloric acid deficiency in the stomach. Half a grape fruit is recommended for breakfast, with the use of two ounces of lemon juice well diluted with water to be taken with the other meals. Part of the fruit juice should be sipped before eating any food, and the remainder sipped during the meal, so that all of the food may be mixed with the acid. The serving of these fruit juices with each meal is a simple and reliable method of treating hydrochloric acid deficiency.

In conclusion, a few practical health hints for the use of lemons will not be amiss:

  1. The juice of half a lemon in half a glass of water before breakfast will correct the most torpid liver and prevent biliousness.
  2. A teaspoonful of lemon juice in a cup of black coffee frequently will cure a bilious headache.
  3. Two or three slices of lemon in a cup of strong hot tea will often relieve a nervous headache.
  4. An outward application of lemon juice will i-lay irritation caused by insect bites.

With exception perhaps of the orange, the lemon is the most popular of citrus fruits. Its health value ranks as high as that of any of our popular fruits.

The earliest known scientific treatise on the citrus fruits in any language is that of Han Yen-Chih’, on the Chu lu, a monograph on the oranges of Wen-chou, Chekiang. This was written in 1178 and dated from Sung Dynasty. The translation read “The peel of the Chu is very good when used a tonic. When all of the white inner part of the peel has been removed what remains is called Chu Lung, or red orange peel. When the fruit is green, then is made the Chi’ing P’i, or green orange peel. Medicinallyboth preparations are very important. Generally speaking, the Chu orange peel is warm in nature and normal in its effect upon the system. It lowers the ‘ch’i,’ stops fever, relieves phlegm and fever and ague. The seeds of the orange are also good for disease of the loins and knees.

Romans First to Recognize Citrus Fruits

Ferrarius, a Jesuit who lived in Rome, wrote one of the first complete books on citrus fruits. Part of the translation reads as follows: “An essential oil was distilled from the leaves and flowers which was a sovereign remedy for cuts and bruises. A water distilled from the flowers was of joyous odour, and good for a sluggish stomach. Orange water was remedial for ‘pestilent fevers accompanied by eruptions.’ A marmalade was esteemed as an appetizer for elderly people. From the rind a snuff was made which provoked sneezing and clears the head.”

Oranges have the same anti-scorbutic value as lemons, and what has been said of the lemon can be said of the orange. It is just as valuable for cases of illnesses in which fever is the predominating symptom. The orange is also a great alkalinizing fruit; it overcomes acidosis.

Surgeons are particularly concerned with the influence of anaesthesia upon the acid-base equilibrium, ether causing a marked decrease in alkaline salts and chloroform having an even more pronounced effect. They report less trouble in post-operative cases when the patient’s system has been alkalinized before the operation, and the best way to do so is with orange juice given before the operation.

Drs. Wohl and Harms, of Omaha, Nebraska, have shown that dental patients have a remarkable recovery from anaesthesia if orange juice is taken first. They advise the use of 200 grams given night and morning over a period of several days before operation, if conditions permit.

The peel of the orange has for many years been esteemed as a great delicacy. It also has health-giving properties. Dr. Rosenthal, a medical officer with the French Army, used plain orange peel prepared in the following manner as a means of improving the intestinal condition of the soldiers in this camp. Fresh orange peel is boiled in about a pint of water. For half an hour; this water is removed and later used as a tooth and mouth wash. The softened peel is boiled for another half an hour in fresh slightly sweetened water and dried. Then it is ready for use. The peel of one orange is the average dose. While the intestine is acted upon mechanically there is also an increased flow of bile which usually continues for hours. This is a good way of overcoming constipation.

The orange is one of the most universally used of fruits; it is also a fruit which can always be used with advantage to the health of the user.