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Lemon Juice - Acidic, Alkaline or Both?

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Conditions: cancer, arthritis, gout, obesity, osteoporosis, allergies, chronic fatigue, diabetes type II, multiple sclerosis, gastritis, G.I. tract ulcers

Lemon-JuiceThere is often misunderstanding of lemon’s pH outside the body versus inside the body.  Let’s get this straight and expound on 10 benefits of regularly taking lemon juice with warm water (note: NOT equal to lemonade!)

Outside the body, lemon juice is acidic (pH is below 7).  This is a non-issue. Everyone knows this.  It’s a citrus fruit.

Inside the body however, when lemon juice has been fully metabolized and its minerals are dissociated in the bloodstream, its effect is alkalizing and therefore raises the pH of body tissue (pH above 7 is alkaline).  Please notice the difference.

Why is it important for body tissue to be alkaline rather than acidic?  Well, for chemistry enthusiasts, we know that in long-term acidic environments, normal cell structure and function are damaged.  The exception to this is the stomach, where the hydrochloric acid secreted there is intended to aid in cellular digestion of food.  But even the stomach is internally lined with special cells to prevent the acid from burning through the stomach’s layers, which is a condition otherwise known as “gastritis” or stomach ulcer.

Similar to the food we eat, human tissue – muscles, organs, fascia, cells and blood simply break down faster in acidic conditions.  The only difference however, is that ingested food becomes fuel for life in its metabolized state whereas broken down tissue dies and becomes toxic waste.

How does the body become acidic?  Through unbalanced diets too rich in acid-producing or inflammatory foods, repressed or unexpressed negative emotions, persistent negative subconscious thought patterns, and overall wear and tear in human body functions.

You may have heard that the acidity of lemon juice reduces the healthy enamel on teeth.  The answer to this lies in whether a person sucks on fresh lemons or limes all the time.  If so, then yes, doing so will damage the teeth’s enamel.

But drinking lemon-water does not expose the teeth for excessive amounts of time to high citrus acidic levels in the mouth, thereby causing no harm to the enamel.  In fact, it improves plaque-stained teeth and bad breath.

You may have also heard that lemon juice causes cavities.  Yikes!  Not true.  I even checked with my own holistic-focused dentist (who I recommend in a heartbeat - Dr. Ross Gorrell in Tsawwassen, B.C., Canada).  No matter if someone takes a lot of lemon juice in their diet, if they have relatively more sugar (processed foods, pastries, candy, pop, cakes, breads, chocolate, etc.), then it's the comparatively higher amount of sugar intake that leads to cavities.  When metabolized in the bloodstream, sugar is highly acidic, and because blood is the body's amazing superhighway, this leads to the breakdown of teeth, among many other symptoms of unbalanced health.


Simply put, outside the body lemon juice is acidic; inside the body after its minerals dissociate, its effect is alkalizing.  So in fact, lemon juice is both acidic and alkalizing.

Now what are its long-term benefits, indicators of general pH level in the body, and exceptions for those who would not be recommended to take it?

10 BENEFITS of Drinking Warm Lemon-Water (i.e. not claimed to be a "cure" for the following conditions)

Helps to:

  • Decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol
  • Cut through and reduce phlegm congesting the lungs and sinuses, or phlegm expressed externally as pus (ex. acne, boils, shingles)
  • Cut through adipose (fat) and cellulite tissue to assist weight loss, especially when taken first thing in the morning before breakfast
  • Decrease “fatty” liver
  • Astringe body fluid to help prevent abnormal fluid discharge (ex. night sweats, spontaneous daytime sweats, seminal leakage, urine incontinence, bedwetting) - this is based on over 4000 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine in which each flavour in food is understood to have a therapeutic purpose, and "sour" flavoured foods are used in herbal medicine to help astringe unwanted leakage of body fluids
  • Maintain teeth and mouth health
  • Reduce sweet, pastry and gluten cravings (which all cause acidic environments in the body)
  • Detoxify and alkalize acidic conditions seen in many diseases ailing people today (ex. rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, gout, diabetes type II, multiple sclerosis, digestive disorders, allergies, chronic fatigue)
  • Nourish and relax tight fascia tissue – ligaments, tendons and connective tissue
  • Maintain glowing, moisturized healthy skin and boost immunity

General pH Level Indicator
Keeping your dosage of lemon juice per 1 cup water consistent, a simple indicator of whether your body is more acidic or alkaline is whether lemon juice in hot or warm water tastes sour or not.  If the sour taste is strong, your body is very acidic.  If it’s not sour at all and even tastes like lemonade to you (without the sugar), your body is in a healthier, more alkaline state.

Depending on a) your ratio of lemon juice to water; b) body’s level of acidity; and c) consistency in daily intake, the taste of lemon-water should eventually not taste very sour at all.

Those who would not be recommended to regularly take lemon-water (or might start with very weak doses) are those who have particularly strong acid reflux (heartburn) or ulcers (known or unknown) – mouth, esophageal or stomach ulcers.  In these cases, lemon juice may cause an irritating “burning” sensation, because it has not yet been metabolized by the body and is still in its acidic state when passing these areas of the gastrointestinal tract.  Therefore, other remedies would be suggested.

Click Why is Lemon Water Alkaline? to watch a short video explanation, or read Dr. Robert Young’s book, The pH Miracle for more information.

NOTE: Taking LIME juice in warm water has similar benefits to drinking warm lemon-water.  See this comparison of nutrition facts between raw lemon and lime juice.

Resources: For evidence-based information on the benefits of lemon juice, read the following:

Lemon Rx: 12 Evidence-Based Reasons Why It Is A Powerful Medicine

The antimicrobial effects of Citrus limonum (Lemon) and Citrus aurantium (Bergamot) essential oils on multi-species biofilms

Sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant activities of Citrus limon (Burm.) essential oil in mice

Impacts of fresh lime juice and peel on atherosclerosis progression in an animal model

Identification of Coumarins from Lemon Fruit (Citrus limon) as Inhibitors of in Vitro Tumor Promotion and Superoxide and Nitric Oxide Generation

Inhibition of Human Breast Cancer Cells by Citrus Limonoids

Further Studies on the Anticancer Activity of Citrus Limonoids

Citrus Limonoids: Analysis, Bioactivity and Biomedical Prospects

Bioactive compounds from Mexican Lime (Citrus aurantifolia) Juice Induce Apoptosis in Human Pancreatic Cells

Neuroprotective Effects of Citrus Flavonoids

For more information on helping re-balance your body TISSUES to be alkaline, see this article below (new article on this topic to come out soon). The chart on alkaline/acidic foods is particularly useful.

How to Get Your Body in an Alkaline State and Keep it Alkaline: Avoid Acidic Foods

"He who does not know food, how can he understand the diseases of man?"

- Hippocrates (460 - 357 B.C.)

Last Updated Tuesday, 24 February 2015 19:49
This article was written by Dr. Mee Lain Ling
All articles by Dr. Mee Lain Ling

Comments Refresh  

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sara 2015-03-14 02:05
Hi, very nice article. I'm going to try this starting tomorrow morning! I was wondering if putting lemon essential oil in warm water rather than the lemon juice, could prove as effective? In which casa, what do you think would be the appropriate dose?
Thank you,
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Carmine 2015-03-14 19:48
Does it matter if you mix the lemon juice with cool water.thank you
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Jennifer 2015-03-15 13:36
In your helpful article about lemon juice, you explain,

"Those who would not be recommended to regularly take lemon-water (or might start with very weak doses) are those who have particularly strong acid reflux (heartburn) or ulcers (known or unknown) – mouth, esophageal or stomach ulcers. In these cases, lemon juice may cause an irritating “burning” sensation, because it has not yet been metabolized by the body and is still in its acidic state when passing these areas of the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, other remedies would be suggested."

I have GERD and Barrett's esophagus so is it safe for me to drink lemon water? Will it cause damage or just a temporary burning feeling? Can I drink it with coconut oil/milk or does it only work with water on an empty stomach? If lemon is not best in my case, can you please suggest other remedies? I tried Apple Cider Vinegar but it causes bloating. Thanks!
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Esi 2015-03-16 04:23
Thanks for your article. But I have several questions. Since human body have active homeostasis how can Ph of the body's tissues (for example blood or bone tissue) change from acidic to basic condition? Yet another question I have. Can you write down some general equation of how Citric acid make alkaline in warm water? Or maybe if there are any other components in a lemon or lime that makes alkaline solutions? Thanks for your consideration.

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Kathy 2015-03-16 06:44
What is the ratio of water to lemon juice that is recommended? For example how much lemon juice should be added to 8 ounces of water?

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