Citrus reticulata

Herbs gallery - Chen-pi

Common names

  • Bitter Orange Peel
  • Chen-Pi

The fresh peel of the Mandarin orange is called chen-pi and it comes in big sections. This red hued orange peel is thin-skinned, supple, oily and scented. Initially, this herb has a somewhat sweet and spicy flavor, but tastes bitter as well as pungent afterwards. All parts of this Mandarin orange enclose remedial properties and are, therefore, used to prepare herbal medications.

This Mandarin orange is either consumed raw or cooked in cakes, confectionery, puddings and other similar items. This fruit is approximately 8 cm in diameter and has a sweet and delectable flavor. The dehydrated peel of this fruit tastes sweet and spicy and is usually used as an essence while baking cakes.

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Parts used



Chen-pi is used to alleviate allergies and digestive disorders. This herb also encloses a chemical that helps to enhance the output of the heart. In addition, some other compounds contained by chen-pi also operate in a combined manner to serve as a contraceptive for women. Sometimes, the herb is also used to treat severe cases of non-purulent mastitis.

Chen-pi offers a number of health benefits. Some of these specific health condition benefits derived from the herb are briefly discussed below.

  • Allergies: In the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), chen-pi is widely used to avert as well as cure allergic reactions. Apart from the citrus peel, the complete Mandarin orange may be used to treat such conditions.
  • Diarrhea, nausea, peptic ulcers and indigestion: Teas prepared with this bitter Mandarin orange peel helps to calm down the soft muscles of the body. This property of the herb has its influence on our digestive system too. Drinking the teas prepared with the bitter orange peel also calms down the soft muscles in the digestive tract and helps them to contain the food in the right place.
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Many herbal medicine practitioners utilize the perfumed peel of the Mandarin orange (tangerine) to desiccate the mucous in the lungs and stomach. In addition, this herb also aids in controlling as well as reinforcing digestion. Chen-pi also forms ingredients in numerous traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) preparations that are prescribed to cure conditions such as diarrhea, dyspepsia, nausea and cough, particularly when it is comes with abundance of sticky mucus or pus mixed with saliva (sputum). Pharmacological researches in China have demonstrated that the herb enhances the secretion of gastric enzymes and also calms down the soft muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. At the same time, chen-pi invigorates discharge as well as extradition of cough from the lungs through spitting. According to the traditional Chinese medicine physicians, the herb moves the qi or chi (the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things) down to help in the treatment of hiccups and vomiting. Unripe peel of the Mandarin orange possesses properties that are akin to the peel of the ripened fruits, but demonstrates a more potent unclogging action and is very frequently prescribed to cure digestive as well as mucous problems associated with constipation.

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The Mandarin orange includes features like aphrodisiac (arousing sexual desire), antiemetic (suppressing vomiting and nausea), acerbic, laxative and tonic (stimulant). Even the blooms of the herb serve as a tonic, while the pericarp is analgesic (painkiller), anti-asthmatic, antiseptic, antiscorbutic (effective against scurvy), anti-cholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-tussive, carminative (relieving flatulence), stomachic and expectorant. The endocarp is carminative as well as expectorant and is used in treating dyspepsia, gastro-intestinal distension, and cough with copious phlegm. The immature green exocarp is also carminative and stomachic and is widely used to treat chest pain and hypochondrium (either of two regions of the abdomen), gastro-intestinal distension, inflammation of the liver and spleen as well as cirrhosis of the liver. On the other hand, the seed of the fruit serves as an analgesic as well as carminative and is prescribed for treating lumbago (pain in the lower region of the back), hernia, mastitis and pain or inflammation of the testicles.

At the same time, chen-pi encourages the blood circulation in the spleen and a stomach qi (chi), strengthening the spleen. The herb also reduces the seditious stomach qi (chi) and stops vomiting. The peel of this Mandarin orange can also be used in combination with herbs that are difficult to digest with a view to avoid stagnation.

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An essential oil extracted from the peel of this Mandarin orange is utilized for adding essence to food. This essential oil is also used in preparing medicines as well as by the perfume industry. Usually, the peel encloses 0.5 per cent of the essential oil. Another essential oil is extracted from the leaves and tender twigs of the herb and it is known as the 'petitgrain oil'. The yield of this essential oil is also around 0.5 per cent.

Habitat and cultivation

Chen-pi may be grown in woodland garden having sufficient sunlight. Although the herb bears leaves all the year around, it is susceptible to frost. Blooms of this herb are hermaphrodite, meaning they have male as well as female organs, and are usually pollinated by apomictic - reproduce by means of seeds produced without sexual union, insects. In other words, the plant is fertile by itself.

The herb has a preference for medium or loamy and heavy or clay soils and needs a properly drained soil. Although this herb thrives best in neutral and alkaline soils, it can also grow in quite acidic and alkaline soils equally well. The plant requires a humid soil and, as mentioned earlier, requires adequate sunlight to flourish. It cannot grow in shade. Precisely speaking the plant grows best in reasonably heavy loam with sufficient amount of fertilizer and sand. However, the location needs to be sunny enough.

The herb is able to endure a pH varying between 4.3 and 8.3. However, this herb is unable to tolerate water logging and hence should always be grown on well drainage soil. If you intend to grow this herb in containers or pots, it is advisable to use a fertilizer contain equal amounts of loam and leaf mould along with a small quantity of charcoal. This will help the herb grow vigorously and yield copious fruits. However, never use manure in the soil as the different species of citrus are averse to it. If you are growing the herb in containers or pots, you need to take additional care regarding the appropriate amount of watering. If you over water or underwater the potted plants, they will soon become yellow and turn dry. Watering the plants grown in containers is only necessary when the compost becomes nearly dry. Never allow the compost in the pots to become completely arid. In the warm temperate as well tropical regions, people cultivate this Mandarin orange extensively for its edible fruit. The fruit has several varieties and each of them is known by different names in different places.

Compared to the sweet or bitter orange plants, this Mandarin orange plant is more resilient to cold and has the aptitude to rapidly turn dormant at low temperatures. This herb thrives best in conditions where the climatic temperature does not drop below 7°C.

The new growths of the plant during spring as well as the fresh growths on mature plants are susceptible to frost and it is advisable to grow this species of plants in a location that is protected from the early morning sunlight. Plants of this species are averse to disturbance of their roots and so they need to be straight away put in their permanent place when they are young. In case you are growing the plants in pots, you should exercise great caution while transferring them to larger containers and ensure that their roots are not disturbed in any way.

The Mandarin orange plant is generally propagated through its seeds. As soon as the seeds become mature, they should be separated from the fruit and cleaned carefully before sowing them in a greenhouse. March is the best time of the year to sow the stored seeds in a greenhouse. It normally takes two to three weeks for the seeds to germinate and the ideal temperature for germination is around 13°C. The seedlings of this species have a tendency to damp off easily and, hence, they ought to be watered carefully and positioned in such a way that there is a lot of ventilation. The seeds of this plant are generally polyembrionic in nature and hence, two or more seedling may germinate from each seed. The different seedlings germinating from each seed have similar genetic properties, but normally they do not carry any virus that may be present in the parent plant. When the seedlings have grown sufficiently big to be handled, pick each one of them separately and plant them in individual pots or containers. These plants need to be grown inside a greenhouse for at least three growing seasons and then placed outdoors. This is essential to protect the young plants from frost. Summer is the best time of the year to relocate these young plants from the greenhouse to outdoors where they are put in their permanent place right away. It is important to provide these young plants adequate shelter from cold during their first few winters outdoors. The half mature wood of the herb is usually cut during July and August in a frame. The layering is done during the month of October.


This species of citrus/ orange encloses an assortment of vigorous elements and scientists are still undertaking studies with a view to explore new uses of the herb. This Mandarin orange encloses rich contents of flavonoids, vitamin C, a number of acids and unstable oils. In addition, these citrus species also enclose courmarins like bergapten that render the skin sensitive to exposure to sunlight. Occasionally, bergapten is included in the tanning preparation as it endorses coloration in the skin. However, courmarins like bergapten may also result in inflammation of the skin and/ or allergic reactions in a number of persons. Recently, scientific researches have discovered that the herb may also be used as an antioxidant as well as  a special cosmetic that is able to chemically remove dead cells and dirt from the skin. In addition, chen-pi encloses phyto-chemicals such as limonene, linalool, linolyl acetate and hespiridin.

Usual dosage

Chen-pi is considered to be relatively safe for long term use. Some of the usual dosages of this herb or medications prepared from it are mentioned below.

  • Dried Chen-pi Powder: Chen-pi in dehydrated powdered form may be take approximately between three to nine grams daily.
  • Dried Chen-pi Peel: Dehydrated pieces of this Mandarin orange peel may be taken two teaspoonfuls every day.
  • Complete Fruit: It is advisable to take one or more fresh fruits of this Mandarin orange every day during the season and this includes consuming the fruit juice as well as its white peel.

Here it needs to be mentioned that the herb needs to be used with caution while treating conditions such as coughing up of blood, hot phlegm or dry excess heat. Overall, the herb is comparatively safer for long-term usage.

Side effects and cautions

Although chen-pi and medications prepared from this herb, especially in the form of a tea or tincture, are very effective in healing numerous conditions, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) advises users to exercise extra care while using this herb in case of any 'red' symptom, for instance, redness in the face accompanied by fever and cough and sometimes blood spitting. This is also applicable when a user has a red tongue. According to the traditional Chinese medicine, the herb should be used with care in the instance of hot phlegm; blood coughs and/ or dry excess heat. The Chinese herbal medical practitioners believe that it is not advisable to use Chen-pi when an individual suffers from dry cough arising from deficiency of Yin (energy). In addition, pregnant women or women enduring irregular menstrual cycles should use chen-pi prudently. Even when the herbal medication or this Mandarin orange peel is taken in little measures it slows down the narrowing of the uterus and intestines. However, when taken in large measures, this bitter tasting orange peel invigorates contractions of the uterus as well as the intestines.


From Althea
I had a very pain free labour by drinking dry orange peel every morning my labour pains where like a mild cramp that my doctor was amazed when I said I wanted to push and I had a healthy baby at 7lbs; with my other pregnancies I didn't use orange peels and I had painful deliveries.
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