Limes are small citrus fruits that belong to the Rutaceae family, known for their round or oval shape and bright green color when ripe. They have a sour taste and are commonly used in culinary applications to add flavor to various dishes and beverages.

Culinary Uses of Limes

Limes are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients, making them a popular ingredient in cooking, baking and cocktail making. They are used to enhance the flavor of salads, marinades, sauces, desserts and refreshing drinks like limeade or margaritas.

Limes are also valued for their acidic juice, which can be squeezed and used fresh or bottled as lime juice for convenient culinary use.

Types of Limes Commonly Used

There are several different trees referred to as Limes:

Limes Used in the USA
In the United States, the most common type of lime sold in the typical grocery store is known as the Persian Lime, or Citrus latifoli. These Limes have a fair amount of juice and are larger than most other types of lime. The key lime is also common in the United States and is also known as the Mexican Lime or Citrus aurantifolia. These limes are very tart and more acidic than the Persian Lime. A good lime for herbal remedies is the Kaffir Lime or Citrus hystrix. This type of lime has a very bumpy skin surface but is very rich in lime oil that is beneficial to many health treatments.

Linden Limes in Europe
In Europe, another tree, the Linden, is referred to as the Linden Lime, however all the trees in the species Lime (Linden) Common Lime (Tilia x europaea) Tilia are UNRELATED to the species of tree that produces lime fruit (Citrus aurantifolia).

Where Do Most Limes Come From?

Limes are grown in many areas of the world, including the United States. However, most of the world’s limes come from India, Mexico, and the South American countries of Argentina and Brazil. Other lime growing regions include China, European countries such as Italy and Spain, as well as Persian countries that include Iran and Turkey.

Main Active Ingredients in Limes

The fruit of limes are full of antioxidants in the way of Vitamins and minerals, as well as natural sugars and fiber. Limes contain large amounts of Vitamin C, though it is much less than that found in lemons (about a quarter the amount).

Lemons also contain furocoumarins which can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Active component of the essential oil include terpenes, monoterpenes, and natural acids that are important for bodily processes involving biosynthesis and have strong antioxidant, immune boosting and antibacterial properties.

Health Benefits of Lime Fruit

In addition to being a healthy citrus fruit, Limes can be used as an effective herbal supplement to help strengthen the body and to alleviate certain conditions, including diarrhoea, nausea and low Vitamin C.

Limes for Soldiers During World War 2 (WWII)

During World War II, Limes played a crucial role in preventing scurvy among soldiers. Scurvy is a vitamin C deficiency disease that can lead to weakness, anaemia and other health problems. British sailors and soldiers were nicknamed “limeys” because of their practice of consuming limes to prevent scurvy during long sea voyages.

Limes, rich in Vitamin C, were part of the standard rations for soldiers, especially those stationed for extended periods where fresh fruits and vegetables were not readily available. The vitamin C in limes helped maintain the health of the soldiers, contributing to their overall well-being and combat readiness. This strategic use of limes became an effective preventive measure against scurvy during wartime when maintaining the health of military personnel was of utmost importance.

Lime for Gastrointestinal Issues

Lime is mainly used to treat symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract, such as nausea and diarrhea.

As a citrus fruit, Lime is rich in nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants, and may offer several benefits for gastrointestinal health, as follows:

Digestive aid: Lime contains citric acid, which may stimulate the production of digestive enzymes in the stomach, aiding in the breakdown of food and promoting efficient digestion.

Alkalizing properties: Despite its acidic taste, lime has an alkalizing effect on the body once metabolized, which may help balance pH levels in the digestive system. This can potentially alleviate symptoms of acidity or acid reflux.

Fiber content: Limes contain dietary fiber, which adds bulk to stools and promotes regular bowel movements. Adequate fiber intake is essential for maintaining digestive health and preventing constipation.

Antimicrobial properties: The natural compounds found in lime, such as flavonoids and limonoids, possess antimicrobial properties that may help combat harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal infections.

Anti-inflammatory effects: Some studies suggest that the antioxidants present in lime may help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, potentially alleviating symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Lime to Help Iron Absorption

Limes can be added to the diet to help increase the amount of Iron absorbed into the body, as limes contain Vitamin C which aids iron absorption, however they only contain about a quarter the amount of vitamin C found in Lemons.

Lime Juice to Soothe Headaches

Lime juice is thought to be helpful for soothing headaches through several mechanisms:

Hydration: Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, and consuming fluids like lime juice can help rehydrate the body, potentially alleviating headache symptoms.

Vitamin C: Limes are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Some headaches, particularly tension headaches, may be triggered or exacerbated by inflammation, and the antioxidant properties of vitamin C could help alleviate these symptoms.

Aromatherapy: The aroma of lime juice may have a calming effect on the nervous system, helping to relax tense muscles and reduce stress, which are common triggers for headaches.

Alkalizing properties: Despite their acidic taste, limes have an alkalizing effect on the body once metabolized. Some experts believe that maintaining proper pH balance in the body may help prevent or alleviate headaches.

Electrolyte balance: Limes contain electrolytes like potassium, which play a crucial role in nerve function and muscle contraction. Ensuring adequate electrolyte balance in the body may help prevent headaches, particularly those associated with electrolyte imbalances or dehydration.

While lime juice may provide relief for some individuals experiencing headaches, it’s essential to note that the effectiveness can vary depending on the underlying cause of the headache and individual factors. If headaches are frequent, severe, or persistent, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Lime Essential Oil

Oils may be expressed or distilled from lime fruit and skin to create lime essential oils. Lime oil is known as Citrus aurantifolia and is beneficial for boosting the immune system and for treating colds and flu.

Applied topically, lime oil has antibacterial properties and is used to treat conditions such as acne. Lime oil has been shown to be effective against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, according to a study published in the BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine Journal(1). Its high acid content can also make it useful as an exfoliant, helping to clarify and brighten dull, tired skin.

How To Eat Limes

The fruit, peel and juice of limes are often used in foods for added flavor and nutrition. The juice is often diluted into a limeade for medicinal purposes. Leaves or grated rind can be steeped into tea.

Dosage is often dependent on the product concentration. Lime essential oil should be diluted in a liquid or a tea before taking internally. When applied topically, add a few drops of lime oil to a buffer oil, such as almond or coconut, to avoid excessive skin sensitivity.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Lime Herb Notes / Side Effects

When taken in doses larger than for dietary and food consumption purposes, lime juice and internal consumption of lime oil can interact with other medications that are metabolized and processed by the liver. Topical use of lime can result in increased photo-sensitivity of the skin, leading to possible photo-toxicity.



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