Several years ago, a discovery was made on the use of lemon juice as a possible barrier for the transmission of HIV and some sexually transmitted infections. This discovery was made by Professor Roger Short of the University of Melbourne, Australia. A research team was established and the project LemonAIDS was developed. I have followed their work with interest, but since the first discovery, further studies have been undertaken by other researchers and some contradictions now exist to the effectiveness of lemon juice.

The use of lemon juice to prevent sexually transmitted infections is questionable based on outcomes from various researchers, but I thought I would include some of the research here to help stimulate thought about nature possibly being a useful ingredient to cut sexually transmitted infections. The LemonAIDS project findings have not been updated at their website for some time and the section about lemon juice was last reviewed in 2004.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne found test tube laboratory tests showed that lemon juice had the ability to destroy both HIV and sperm. The tests and research were based on heterosexual sex, where the main concerns were on issues about whether the acidity of the lemon juice would pose problems for the vagina. As the research did not include men or the rectum, it is unknown whether lemon juice may aid in creating a barrier for sexually transmitted infections during anal sex.

Historically, there are references to lemon juice being used as a contraception by women in the Mediterranean before more modern methods came into existence. Some cultures have been known to use lemon juice as a contraception method and to also prevent the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections. In examining lemon juice and its effectiveness to block some sexually transmitted infections, researchers found that the acidity of lemons does have the ability to inactivate sperm and HIV. Later findings by other researchers has found that the acidity at certain levels can cause damage and lesions to the vagina.

If it can be proven that lemon juice is an effective barrier for HIV transmission, then this would be an amazing discovery. Lemons are available in a large part of the world and are rather inexpensive to buy, meaning that many people could have access to the fruit. Lemon juice is also known as an excellent cleaning application, which could also be used as a cleansing agent after sexual intercourse. It would also be interesting if a natural fruit was found to be useful in assisting those wanting to engage in sexual intercourse without the use of other forms of protection such as condoms.

I have researched lemon juice and its use for possibly providing protection during sexual intercourse and found that there really isn’t a great deal of information available on the subject. I am unsure whether this is because the use of lemon juice as a potential sexually transmitted infection barrier has not yet been proven to be effective. The issue of whether companies could patent, manufacture and distribute a product for monetary gain may also be a reason, considering that lemons can be grown by just about anyone or sourced from the local supermarket.

The following is a list of some of the observations made by Professor Roger Short from the University of Melbourne when the first discovery was made:

  • The effects of 20 percent lemon juice on HIV in culture is that it kills the virus very quickly.
  • Concentration of 20% lemon juice in a fresh human ejaculate irreversibly immobilizes 100% of spermatozoa in less than 30 seconds.
  • It would be necessary to use only about 3 ml of lemon juice in the vagina to inactivate HIV and sperm.
  • Neat lemon juice applied to the vagina, or the penis and foreskin is not in any way painful to the user if no lesions are present.
  • Citric acid, which gives lemon juice its acidity is also a normal part of a man’s ejaculate, so it’s not a foreign substance to the body.
  • Lemon juice might also be very useful for post-coital washing of the penis, particularly the foreskin, to protect men from HIV infection.
  • If lemons are in short supply, lime juice would be a good alternative.
  • Lemon juice killed HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia in the test tube.

It is important to note that these findings were the first findings and that further research is still required to find out whether the use of lemon juice as a preventative for the spread of sexually transmitted infections is effective. Another important issue is that the research refers to women and the vagina, not to men and the rectum. For this reason, it’s important to just consider the findings, and not applying the preliminary findings to your personal life at this time. I say this, because further research undertaken by researchers has found that lemon juice can cause lesions in the vagina and as a result, this can cause higher exposure to sexually transmitted infections because of the broken skin.

Skin is very important in helping prevent viruses from entering the bloodstream, because it is our body’s barrier, so when the skin becomes broken from lesions, wounds or sores, the skin is no longer in tact and is less able to help protect us from external health concerns. To find out more about the Lemon and AIDS research and the work of the LemonAIDS team, please visit their official website (the link is at the bottom of this page).

This is a fascinating issue which I will continue to follow and report here if any significant findings become known. To complete this article, I have found a number of other researchers who have different findings to that of Professor Roger Short and his team, who found that the effects of 20 percent lemon juice on HIV in culture kills the virus very quickly. Here are some snippets from the Science and Development Network website:

  • Carol Lackman-Smith of the Southern Research Institute, United States, presented data at a conference showing that 50 per cent solutions of the juices damaged the cells that line the vagina.
  • Anke Hemmerling of the University of Berkeley presented results suggesting that weaker dilutions of 10-20 per cent cause little, if any, damage to the lining of the vagina.
  • Robin Shattock of Imperial College in the United Kingdom has shown that in the presence of sperm, anything weaker than a 50 per cent solution of juice does not efficiently inactivate HIV.

One of the most recent articles I found was at an excellent HIV health resource called The Body. The article Why Women Should NOT Use Lemon or Lime Juice as a Microbicide is an interesting read and brings together some of the most recent information available about lemon juice. So from the latest findings, lemon juice should not be used as a HIV or sexually transmitted infection technique at this time, as there is a chance that lesions could result, which could actually increase the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection because of the potential of broken skin.

References:

  1. Studies disagree on safety of lemon juice against HIV – Science and Development Network
    http://www.scidev.net/en/news/studies-disagree-on-safety-of-lemon-juice-against.html
  2. Why Women Should NOT Use Lemon or Lime Juice as a Microbicide – The Body
    http://www.thebody.com/content/treat/art48598.html
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