Hot Lemon Water: Healing or Hydration?

Hot Lemon Water first thing in the morning. This is an ancient ritual and well accepted routine by so many dietitians, health coaches and integrative medicine practices worldwide. When I started struggling with digestive issues myself, it probed me to look into the “healing powers” of  hot lemon water and promises to improve digestion, increase metabolism and other promised health benefits. Here are my findings, and my take on it (for what it’s worth).

  • Claims
    • My finding
  • Claim: Hot Lemon Water in the morning helps prepare the stomach for digestion and increases metabolism.
    • My finding: When lemon hits the stomach acid, its said to alter the pH and actually have an alkalizing affect on the body.  I was unable to find hard research to back this up, but the acidic content is similar to the pH of stomach acid, and can help aid in digestion.
  •  Lemons aid as a large dose of vitamin C to help with immunity:
    •  A slice of lemon in water will only give about 1mg, when around 65-90mg/day is recommended. (Even if you ate the whole lemon, you wouldn’t quite make it lol).
  • Helps with clearing skin and weight loss
    • Hydration is really the culprit on this one. The majority of us do not drink nearly enough water in a day  (no thanks to sugary juice, soda or coffee). If adding lemons to your water helps you to reach that 6-8 glasses in a day, then it’s definitely a positive thing to do. That being said – it could be at any time of the day, hot or cold.  Hydration in general curbs appetite cravings and clears skin, so that does make sense, though I give more of the credit to the water than the lemon.
  • Boosts detoxification
    • From my resear, the idea that lemon cleanses us and filters toxins comes from a roman belief. From my education, I would argue that lemon cant quite replace the liver and kidney’s filtration and excretion job.  Though I call complete myth on this, there is still research to be done.
  • Consume first thing in the morning to get these said health benefits
    • warmth to wake up the stomach is supported in research, as cold beverages slow digestion. Add acidity and sour to get the digestive juices flowing and it may not be a bad habit to add to the morning ritual. I sometimes drink warm lemon water on weekends or before my long run on Saturday, and save my coffee for post workout.

Verdict:  Promotes hydration, aids digestion, and can act meditative for the mind if done early while making breakfast or starting your day. I am a fan if it works for you, but it is absolutely not all health promising as it’s often claimed.  (side note: watch out for oral health if you consume lots of lemon water, the acidity wears on your enamel and can make your teeth more permeable to erosion!)

I often integrate herbals, ancestral rituals and Chinese medicine beliefs into my daily practice and outlook on health, but I also ensure adequate research prior to developing an opinion or marketing anything to others!  Lemon water, as much as I would love to say is healing, didn’t quite make my cut.







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