Limes Commonly Used
There are several different trees referred to as Limes, and therefore different Lime fruits.
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.
In Europe, another tree, the Linden, is referred to as lime, so the Linden Lime is the type most commonly found. Also known as basswood, the flowers, leaves, and bark from this tree are often used for herbal remedies as well as the fruit being consumed. Parts of the lime tree contain flavonoids, volatile oils, mucilage components, and tannins. This gives Linden antioxidant, expectorant, antispasmodic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties, among others.
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.
Health Benefits of Lime Fruit
Lime is mainly used to treat symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract, such as nausea and diarrhea. Sometimes lime is 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 is thought to be helpful for soothing headaches.
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.
Main Active Ingredients
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). They 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.
How To Take
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.
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 phototoxicity.
Long term use of linden tea may be associated with heart damage.