Can lemon juice cause arthritis?

by Karen
(Johannesburg South Africa)


My mother has been drinking lemon juice in water for years with excellent results for almost everything.

Then a 'friend' comments to her one day that by drinking lemon in water too often is going to cause an arthritic condition or something to that effect.

Now she has stopped drinking it altogether. I need someone to respond by saying this is not true - in fact it is the total opposite, please!!!!


You are absolutely right, Karen! Drinking fresh-squeezed lemon juice in water can help to alkalize the body and will provide innumerable health benefits to your mother if she continues to drink it regularly.

Arthritis, like so many other diseases, is a condition associated with a high degree of acidity in the body.

In fact, in some cases the type of acid that causes joint pain is uric acid. If you look at uric acid under a microscope, it looks like tiny shards of glass. When uric acid crystallizes, it causes pain and inflammation.

The best way to start to reduce the amount of acidity in the body is by drinking enough mineral rich water each day to fully hydrate the body, eat more alkalizing foods and beverages (such as lemon water), and effectively manage stressful thoughts and feelings, which are highly acid-promoting in the body.

Does Lemon Juice Contribute to Acids in the Body?

Unfortunately, most people, like your mother’s friend, think that if a food is acid, then it is acidifying in the body. But this is not true. A lemon, for example, contains citric acid, but when it is metabolized by the body, it leaves an alkaline residue.

Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods and drinking lemon juice will help the body eliminate the accumulation of acid in the body, which almost always contributes to the onset of arthritis as well as many other health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Who Should Drink Lemon Juice?

Everyone, including children and the elderly! Just about everyone will glean health benefits from drinking fresh-squeezed lemon juice daily!

The only people who should not drink lemon juice would be people who have a rare allergy to lemons or those with active ulcers. However, drinking lemon juice can even help someone with stomach ulcers if taken under the proper supervision of a health and nutrition consultant.

Lemon Juice Cause Arthritis to Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

Comments for Can lemon juice cause arthritis?

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Citric acid has anti inflammatoric properties.
by: Anonymous

Thanks! Good explanation. I do think that citric acid as such has anti inflammatory aspects that helps to reduce both Arthritis and any other autoimmune decease.

Last for dialysis patient or patient with non working kidneys the extra alkaline load can be a problem and then citric acid/citrate must not be used.

Young and ailing joint pain
by: Kim

Hi, since I was a baby I have had severe joint pain. Only recently has a pain specialist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.

I used to exercise regularly and drink lots of lemon water but the pain remained. I stopped drinking lemon water and could not exercise as often.

After yrs. of avoiding lemon water since a nurse said it was the acid in the lemons that may be the culprit, I decided to try it again, maybe my body will react differently? I drank only a slice of lemon in a cup of water over a day and started to feel my joints especially my knees begin to ache.

I want to utilize the cleansing health benefits of lemon water but I cannot function throughout the day In pain. What should I do?

Nancy's response:

If you believe that drinking lemon water is causing pain, I don't believe it is worth drinking it. But I cannot advise you either way.

You might consider herbal cleansing teas if you want the cleansing benefits. A small amount (1 Tbsp) of raw apple cider vinegar in water also provides some of the similar health benefits as lemon water.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in Water

Lemon Juice with honey
by: jamilur Rehman

I am over 65 years old and was having severe knee pain which causes me unable to walk and pray. I had started to drink lemon juice in hot water in addition of one tsp of honey.

It's worked from the first day and having no pain at all. I suggest to all those having joint pains in their body to try once at least.

by: Diane

I don't want 2 jinx myself but...after a life threatening infection 2 yrs ago, I've had varying degrees of pain on my right side hip 2 thigh.

I haven't had a full night's sleep from this pain. No over the counter drugs have helped.

I read an article on the benefits of lemon water. On Monday I sliced 1/2 lemon & added to 16 ozs of water & have done this for 4 days.

After day one, I make container & refrigerate for 24 hrs. I also eat the lemon pulp. I slept thru the night on the 3rd night & I'm almost pain free the morning of day 4.

I'm in total disbelief! I will keep u posted.

Nancy's response:

Thank you for sharing, Diane! So happy for your pain relief.

Thank you
by: Nancy

This has been the most informative information I have ever read. I live on my pain pills daily. Recently it has been Very difficult to even walk.

Today I bought mineral water and added my lemon ice was very good. Now I read all this and it seems I am on the right track.

I always have fresh squeezed lemons on hand....I buy them in season and squeeze them and put them in ice cube trays, pop them out and bag them, along with Ginger cubes.

Knee pain gone
by: Anonymousjoy

I had been suffering from very painful knees, mostly on the inside of them for three months and the doctor thought it was because I needed insoles in my shoes.

As I had suffered from gout in my big toe a year before I eventually wondered if this condition was affecting my knees.

I started drinking fresh lemon juice and cherry juice daily and after only two weeks all pain and stiffness has disappeared. I am now convinced gout was the cause and wonder why my GP did not pick up on this. Cayman

Lemon Juice Benefits
by: Anonymous

I am 82 years old and although I have rheumatoid arthritis I am one of the fortunate ones who have not overly suffered because of it.

I am very active and I have been taking a tbls. of lemon juice with chai green tea and a tsp. of pure honey in hot water for the past month and I can't believe how good I feel.

I have had continuous problems with diarrhea and although I have had the odd bout if I overeat or eat a lot of salt, every day now is pretty much normal.

I have also lost 7 pounds because it seems to take away my cravings for sugar. I had an arthritic flare up a few weeks ago but continued with my lemon juice and it didn't seem to affect it.

Anyway I feel better with it and will continue to take it.

Thumbs up for lemon
by: E.

Taking fresh lemon juice in water first thing in the morning is a time-tested remedy for joint issues in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic traditions. As has been said, the acid causes the body to create an alkaline environment. It is also a tonic for the liver, which has worked so hard during our sleep to clean the blood. Brush the teeth before, not immediately after using lemon to protect the enamel. To your health, all readers

It may get worse before it gets better
by: Anonymous

Comments about knee pain or arthritis getting worse after taking lemon water is most likely correct but have you ever heard the comment " it will get worse before it gets better".

You need to continue for longer period of time or take a higher dose. Don't take my word for it check it out at name below. Google Dr. Richard Schultz (herbalist) pertaining to lemon and lime for arthritis.

Taking lemon herb tea with stevia
by: Anonymous

Would it be helpful to alleviate my osteoarthritis and pre-diabetes to take the juice of one lemon in herb tea, such as turmeric tea, sweetened with truvia or stevia?

Unsweetened lemon is too tart, and with my pre-diabetes I should not be taking it with honey or sugar. Stevia and truvia are alkalizing.


I would start with 1/4 to 1/2 lemon in a cup of tea. And I would highly recommend you use stevia in place of truvia. Stevia is a natural sweetener and is beneficial. Truvia is not.

Even though Truvia is made from the stevia plant, it then goes through some type of processing to turn it into something that looks like crystallized sugar. You can read more about Truvia at

Arthritis pain
by: Mafiamum

I take one freshly squeezed lemon and add half a teaspoon of bicarb in a glass and let it fizz for a couple of minutes. When it has stopped fizzing, I add a tablespoonful of raw ACV [apple cider vinegar], then a dollop of local honey, a good pinch of both ginger and cinnamon, adding some boiled cooled water (about 8 oz) and drink straightaway.

I also quarter a mixture of lemons and limes in a jug of cooled boiled water after adding the same ingredients and drink it throughout the day. OH BOY! IF I MISS A DAY, THE PAIN IS BACK WITH A VENGEANCE.

Lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda
by: Lucy

I have been using fresh lemon juice for a number of months now and really notice a difference with my arthritic finger joints.

Today someone mentioned that if I took a tiny amount of bicarbonate of soda with the lemon water that it would not be so damaging to my teeth. Is this true?

I know that lemon juice can be bad for teeth so I try to drink it in the morning and then drink normal water throughout the day but I do worry about damaging my teeth.


I would not add the bicarbonate soda to the lemon water because it may diminish some of the beneficial properties of the lemon water.

What I do recommend is adding a small amount of baking soda to a few ounces of water and rinsing your mouth after drinking the lemon water. Or you can brush your teeth with baking soda toothpaste.

For additional recommendations, please see "Teeth Enamel" under "Cautions" on this page..

Adding apple cider vinegar to lemon water
by: Karen

I wanted to try ACV and honey in hot water but the taste was awful. So, I added lemon - and it tastes much better.

My question is - should it be one or the other - lemon or ACV - or can I drink them together?


I don't know of any reason why you should not drink them together. However, I would be inclined not to adding anything to lemon water because it may change the chemistry. But it would take a food scientist to say for sure.

Fresh lemon in water for arthritis
by: Anonymous

I have severe osteoarthritis and have been prescribed many drugs to help with mobility and mainly pain. I am 72 and this really started in 2005 after the death of my husband.

There are areas that are end-stage osteoarthritis such as my hips and lower back. My daughter suggested lemon in water and after trying this for just two days, was able to shop for groceries two days in a row.

Any change in the weather always kept me chair bound in severe pain. Today we are expecting snow and sleet and I am so much better than expected.

I was always a very active person and this has been a severe blow to me in every respect. I will continue with the fresh lemon in water, and will continue with my improvement which I anticipate.

I even bought a hot tub to help with pain but had trouble exiting due to my height. Oh how I look forward to this pain to stop robbing me of my life. Thank you for this page.

Nancy's Response:

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience. Anything you can do to make your body more alkaline will help your condition.

In addition to drinking lemon water, eating more vegetables and less sugar, starch, and animal protein will also help decrease the pain.

Stress is also a major contributor to acidity in the body. And pain contributes to stress, so I know it is a vicious cycle.

I would also encourage you to try adding some mineral salts, or just plain old Epsom salt to your hot baths. The magnesium in Epsom salt can help calm the muscles and remove lactic acid in the body.

The supplement that I most highly recommend for all types of arthritis is a blend of proteolytic enzymes.

These types of enzymes are excellent for reducing inflammation and helping to repair joints and tissues. You take them in between meals, not with meals.

If you live near a health food store, ask the vitamin clerk for the best proteolytic enzyme blend they have. Or if you prefer to order online, the brands I prefer are Garden of Life Wobenzym N and Michael's Recovery Zymes, which you can see here at Amazon.

However, as with all supplements, be sure to check with your doctor. Enzymes in particular are not good to take with certain medications, such as blood thinners.

Be sure to drink water that contains minerals, not reverse osmosis or distilled water. And check out the articles on my site about how much water to drink daily. This is critical to help get nutrients to the joints and to flush out the uric acid and other toxins.

I hope you can come back and give us an update on your progress in a month or two. I trust that you will continue to see improvements if you can do a few of these things. Take care!

Lemon juice not advised for all types of arthritis
by: janzy

I was researching hand pain and citrus today and found that eliminating citrus fruits from the diet is recommended for certain types of arthritis, especially rheumatoid, because citrus seems to worsen symptoms.

so...not so sure you should be advocating a blanket statement that lemon juice is good for arthritis (might be good for gouty type, but may be not for others)

Janzy (Regisitered nurse)

Pain in my legs and feet
by: Shirley

I drink lemon juice with 1 teaspoon red pepper (cayenne pepper) and lots of ice.

I love it so much I drink it twice a day. Is that too much? I am 68 years and have a lot of pain in my legs and feet. Shirley


Shirley, the lemon water with cayenne pepper is a cleansing and stimulating drink. It is great for circulation and helps flush toxins out of the body.

Is it too much? It is hard to say because it depends on a lot of factors, including your general health, if you have any health conditions, how well you eat, as well as if you are taking medications. Thus, it is always best to consult with your doctor if in doubt.

Knees up with lemon juice!
by: Chris

More interesting thoughts on causes of arthritis. The truth is that it is all still uncertain and whatever kind of arthritis we are talking about, is caused by an range of interconnected factors rather than just any single cause...and furthermore, researchers are questioning the traditional distinction between osteo 'wear and tear' arthritis and rheumatoid 'inflammatory' arthritis, as even the first type has inflammatory factors.

It may well be that uric acid crystals in the joint capsule can play a negative role in the absence of true gout, or at least aggravate the condition more in combination with other degrading pathologies.

By the way, my knee is still fine and no repeat application yet. I would doubt that topical splash of lemon juice could penetrate past the patella into the knee joint compartments, so possibly my problem was ligamentous or tendon based...but hey, it worked!

More Thoughts on Uric Acid
by: Nancy Hearn, CNC

I was also interested in Chris’s comment about "not all arthropathies are uric acid based" and that only gout is based on that factor. As an NHS trained podiatrist, I am sure you know what you are talking about!

However, I am seeking further clarification because years ago I learned and have since believed that many different joint issues are related (if not caused by) an accumulation of uric acid in the joints. I did a little more research for my own education and to share with our readers.

What I found, according to, is that everyone has uric acid, which is naturally present in small amounts.

This website says that uric acid “is a waste product that results from the body’s normal process of cells dying and releasing purines. It also accumulates from the body absorbing purines contained in some foods.

“Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passes through the kidneys into the urine. But, when more uric acid is produced than the kidneys can eliminate, the elevated level is known as hyperuricemia.

"After years of sustained hyperuricemia, the body may store excess uric acid up to several times higher than the normal level. The uric acid may crystallize in joints and some other tissues. When the crystals accumulate in the joints, they can set the stage for a painful attack of gout."

According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center: "The amount of uric acid in one's joints may increase the likelihood of severe osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis worldwide. . . .

"Finding a way to treat the degenerating joints of people with osteoarthritis would be a tremendous breakthrough," said Virginia Byers Kraus, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Duke University in the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology and senior author of the study. "This research is a step towards identifying uric acid as a risk factor for osteoarthritis."

The researchers looked at 159 people, who had knee osteoarthritis but no history of gout. . . .

Kraus said, "In a non-gout population, this provides some of the very first evidence that uric acid level is a potential cause of inflammatory events and joint degeneration in osteoarthritis."

This interests me because I know of several people with arthritis (no gout) who experienced significant improvement after drinking lemon water regularly over a period of 2 to 6 months. I always assumed it was primarily because of the alkalizing effect of lemon water.

Reference: Uric Acid May Increase Likelihood of Severe Osteoarthritis

Topical Application of Lemon Juice on Painful Joints
by: Nancy Hearn, CNC

Thanks for sharing, Chris! Very interesting.

I am wondering if the benefit you experienced is more from the enzymatic properties of the lemon juice applied topically rather than the alkalizing effect one gets from drinking lemon water.

From what I understand, the lemon juice does not turn to alkaline ash in the body until it has been metabolized through the digestive tract. Thus, I don't think applying lemon juice topically would neutralize acidity in the joints. What do you think?

Remarkable lemon juice cure for arthritis
by: Chris

I had never heard of lemons being a treatment for arthritis. Last week I noticed increasing joint problems with my left knee - knee arthritis runs in my family and at 45 it seems I am now getting the first signs.

I did something freaky and decided, just out of a whim really, to apply lemon juice to the knee... not drinking it but actually onto the skin at the affected area. The joint pain has now disappeared and my knee feels as good as new!

It's only now I am reading these forums about lemon juice, alkalinity e.t.c, and surprised to hear what is contrary to what one would expect, bearing in mind that lemon contains citric acid.

Not all arthropathies are uric acid based though. In fact, only gout is based on that maybe it might not be effective for all cases. Works for me though, and I'm an NHS trained podiatrist!

Fresh Lemon Juice vs Bottled
by: Roni

Is bottled lemon anywhere near the quality of fresh?
Thank you!

WBH answer:

Bottled lemon juice (preferably organic) will have some of the nutritional properties of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, but not the enzymatic properties.

You can read more about bottled lemon juice vs fresh lemon juice for health purposes here.

My Experiece
by: Delveen

I decided to do the lemon juice in water first thing in the morning, but each time I do I notice a soreness and stiffness in my joints. Stop doing the lemon juice and water and it subsides. Don't know why???

Nancy's Comment:
Delveen, I am not sure what is going on, but it is not uncommon with any type of natural healing for symptoms to get worse before they get better.

If the cause of your arthritis pain is the accumulation of uric acid in the joints (which is a common cause), it is possible that the alkalizing effect of lemon water may be causing some "movement" of that uric acid in the joints. As you may know, uric acid crystals are like tiny bits of broken glass which can irritate the tissue, causing pain and inflammation.

So, that is not necessarily a bad thing. If it were me, I would continue drinking lemon water (it certainly couldn't hurt) but take it slow.

You might want to use a weaker dilution of lemon water (1/4 lemon in 12 oz. water) or drink it less frequently. I would experiment with it over a period of a few months, and let us know what happens.

Be sure to read my other pages on why I do not recommend drinking straight lemon juice (without water).

Lemon Juice vs Apple Cider Vinegar
by: Lemon and Water Lady

I am finding that lemon juice (I love it) and water is best for my arthritis compared to apple cider vinegar, which is being voted so highly on the net. Do you recommend ACV?

WBH answer: I also have apple cider vinegar on hand for numerous purposes because I like it also. Like lemon water, apple cider vinegar also helps to alkalize and remove acidic wastes from the body.

But in my experience, people seem to get more symptomatic relief of arthritis drinking lemon water rather than apple cider vinegar - and lemon water certainly tastes better!

Thus, I generally recommend lemon water over apple cider vinegar but, as always, what works best for one may not be the best for another person.

I suggest to people that they first give the lemon water a try (2 to 3 times per day) for 2 months. And if they don't notice benefits, then try the apple cider vinegar.

Of course, the quality of apple cider vinegar is essential. It should be organic, unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.

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