Drinking Lemon Water on Empty Stomach

by Animesh
(India, Jharkhand)

Does drinking lemon water on an empty stomach make the digestive juices of the stomach dilute and cause indigestion??

WBH response: Lemon water actually improves digestion and elimination.

The only time I would not recommend lemon water on an empty stomach would be if someone had citrus allergies, stomach ulcers or problems with the esophagus from long-standing acid reflux.

As noted in my article on "The Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water":

"One of the most important benefits of drinking lemon water regularly is its effect on the gastrointestinal tract. . .

"Lemon juice is similar in atomic structure to saliva, hydrochloric acid, bile and the stomach’s other digestive juices.

"The digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching and bloating. For the relief of heartburn, Kloss recommends taking a teaspoon of lemon juice in half a glass of water.

"Lemon water will also help to eliminate waste through the bowels more efficiently, thus preventing or alleviating constipation, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disorders."

Since lemon water is so similar in structure to stomach acid, it does not dilute stomach acid. In addition, the body does not actually produce stomach acid unless food is present.

In general, I do not recommend drinking lemon water with food.

I mean, I believe you get more benefits if you drink lemon water at least one half hour before eating (preferably breakfast) and right before bed (at least 2 hours after eating the last meal or snacks).

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Nov 12, 2015
Lemons Do Cleanse the Body
by: Lisa

People... I hope you all are using Organic lemons. It kills any chance of getting harmful pesticides. I know lemons have thick skin but using organic is still best.

Use less lemon at the start then increase as you can tolerate it. It is a liver tune-up with the warm water.

Oct 29, 2015
Feel heavy in stomach and stomach upset
by: Ana

I do not know if i have an ulcer but when i go to the doctor and explain my stomach problems, he just gave me medicine like omeprazole or magnesium but later on it comes back feeling heavy or full in my stomach and every morning having stomach upset..it's okay for me to take lemon water? Thanks..

Oct 13, 2015
Pain in Stomach
by: Anonymous

I get pain in my stomach when i drink honey lemon lime warm water in the morning....what should i do...because i want to use this drink regularly. Please help me.


We are not medical doctors and cannot give advice. It is possible that your stomach lining might need healing before you can drink citrus juices. Lemon and limes are highly acidic until they are metabolized in the body. Check with your doctor.

One of the cautions mentioned with lemon water on some of our site pages is that people with ulcers should not drink lemon water because it will most likely cause pain and possibly make the ulcer worse. I am not suggesting you have an ulcer because I don't know, but you obviously have some type of stomach sensitivity.

Sometimes the combination of lemon, lime and honey can cause GI distress for some people.

If or when you try lemon water again for the health benefits, you might want to just use a small amount (1/2 teaspoon) of fresh-squeezed lemon in 8-12 ounces of water (no lime or honey) and see how that feels.

May 30, 2015
Stomach cramps
by: Joy

Immediately I take lemon and cayenne pepper lukewarm juice in the morning after the salt and water drink. I usually have stomach cramp, nuasea, and discomfort that will seems I want to faint. But 10 to 15 minute I will be relieve after bloating and urinate sometime. Next I will be feeling sleepy. Should I stop the body cleanse and weight loss program?


Sounds like you are detoxing too much. You have to decide for yourself whether to stop. But I would not continue if I had those symptoms.

Apr 28, 2015
Result of lemon water in colon
by: Rene

I was excited learning from several sources about benefits from lemon water. I started in the mornings only, but only later learned the water should be warm. After about a month or two I started having extremely loose bowels, to the pt of an 'accident'. It was only in the AM but became more frequent.

I had tried almond milk besides my coconut milk so I stopped that. Then I stopped the coconut milk. Thought I was getting colitis or something. Finally stopped the lemon juice.

This is the 3rd AM and I am about 'normal'. It didn't happen for so long I couldn't pair it up. Seriously, it was like 'water' coming out every AM.

How can I still take it? There are so many benefits. Do you only recommend a tsp per glass? Thank you.


It is hard to say what was causing your problem. It may or may not have been the lemon juice. You might have gotten some contaminated food or experienced an allergic response to some type of food, perhaps the almond milk, the lemon juice or something else.

If your stools are back to normal and you want to try the lemon water again, you might want to stop the almond milk and slowly introduce the lemon water back into your diet.

Yes, even 1 tsp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice in 8 to 12 ounces of water will offer benefits as long as you do not have a citrus allergy. You might drink the lemon water every 2 to 3 days or so and see how it goes. If you don't notice any loose bowels, you could start drinking it more often.

The other way to know for sure if the lemon water is a problem for you is to get tested for food allergies.

Feb 09, 2015
Tenuous colon from drinking lemon water?
by: Vivi

You would not recommend for people who had stomach ulcers problem? It is a thing I still confuse, because I have had a problem with stomach ulcers and lemon water cured me.

My gastric really rare to come back.. Can you explain to me why you wouldn't recommend for people having stomach ulcers problem like me? It actually makes me feel better :)

One more question that people always told me I'm wrong with lemon water, they said it will make my colon worse, my colon will become tenuous. Is it true? Thanks


I am glad that the lemon water has helped you, Vivi. The reason I do not recommend lemon water (or any type of citrus) for people with stomach ulcers is because it can in some cases cause pain and possibly make the ulcer worse. In fact, if you read some of the other posts from my website visitors, you will see that this is true.

So, if the lemon water makes you feel better, I would suspect that perhaps your stomach ulcer is healing over. But obviously, I don't know that for sure. I am just guessing.

If you were to pour lemon water on an open wound on your skin, for example, it would sting and cause pain. But if the wound had scabbed over, the lemon water would not hurt. I think the same is somewhat true with stomach ulcers.

So it is a bit risky for people to drink lemon water without knowing for sure the condition of the ulcer.

Regarding a tenuous colon from drinking lemon water? I have never heard that and in my experience one of the most significant benefits of drinking lemon water once or twice a day is for the gastrointestinal benefits, including colon health.

Jan 30, 2015
by: Anonymous

Lemon water...not strictly on an empty stomach, almost "did me in"! Well, that is, I strongly suspect lemon water was the culprit...

My first 80 years of life--sans lemon water--I never had the kind of indigestion that causes gas pains(stomach ache) all over the stomach.

I was drinking lemon juice to prevent more kidney stones. I did not want more of those! (NO pain, for maybe the first month of LJ, and then severe discomfort for @ 6 months--til I stopped the LJ)

I know what a "post hoc, ergo, propter hoc" fallacy is--"after this, therefore, because of this...", but, other than the lemon juice, I cannot think of anything else that changed...any difference, except sheer age.

The pain was not related to irregularity, any specific food (allergy); however, ANY food--in any quantity--would trigger the pain. Awful.

I thought maybe an ant-acid would make the pain go away. Nope. But, the "anti-gas" pills helped, wonderfully. First night I tried them,I slept 12 hours, like a log!

I believe the pain is gone, permanently. If it comes back--with NO lemon juice--I plan to see a gastroenterologist...a gut doctor!

I may have been taking too much lemon juice...3 tablespoons per quart of water, with Stevia to sweeten. I drank 2 quarts a day. Too much? I dunno!

I stopped the lemon juice, cold turkey, and it took 2 weeks to see much change. After 3 weeks, the problem is almost gone...

Aug 26, 2013
Lemon juice and joint pain
by: Sandy

I have been having lemon juice each morning for nearly 5 months now, but unfortunately it has aggravated my lower back, pain that I experienced only slightly approximately 18 months ago.

I read about all the benefits so I persevered, and wasn't convinced the pain was linked to lemon water until I stopped having it for 4 days and noticed the pain had subsided.

I'm in two minds whether to discontinue altogether, but do not want to loose out on the benefits it is supposed to have for my skin.

Nancy's response:

Sandy, pain is always an important messenger. The back pain you experienced may or may not have been related to the lemon water you were drinking. But if you think it might have contributed to the pain getting worse, then I would definitely not drink it for a while.

I always periodically change my eating, drinking and supplement routines just to check in with my body and see if I notice any differences.

There is nothing about health that is static. In fact, my definition for health is a "dynamic state of balance and equilibrium in the body, mind and spirit."

If you were drinking lemon water primarily for the skin benefits, you might get some additional ideas from our article on "Drinking Water and Acne."

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