Citrus aurantium

Herbs gallery - Orange

Common names

  • Bitter Orange
  • Orange

The orange is a very well known fruit and is considered a valuable medicinal herb as well. Initially the orange probably originated from China. However, by the Middle Ages the fruit was a favorite in many lands and its herbal qualities were highly regarded by Arabian physicians in the Middle East. Oil extracted from the flowers was discovered and prepared as a scent during the 16th century, supposedly by an Italian princess named Anna-Marie de Nerola; she used the oil to scent her gloves. For this reason, the neroli floral oil, as it is now known is prohibitively expensive and famous as a perfume. The use of medicinal oranges is the main domain of the Chinese herbalists, who are still the greatest enthusiasts of medicinal oranges and its remedies today. Medicinal preparations are mainly made from the bitter Seville orange - C. aurantium or the sweeter tangerines and satsumas - C. reticulata. The bitter orange remedies have a great repute in many places.

The use of the bitter orange as a food and for preparation of herbal medicines has been going on for millennia. The flowers of the bitter orange, yields the valued neroli oil, the volatile oil extracted from the leaves and young shoots is known as the petit grain. These two distillates from the orange are used extensively in the perfumery and scent industry. Another product of distillation of the orange is an essence called the orange flower water; this is used in perfumery and also as a flavoring in the manufacture of candy and other baked goods. This essence also has many other medicinal purposes and uses in herbal treatments.

Parts used

Fruit, peel, leaves, flowers, seeds, essential oil.


Digestion in the stomach is stimulated by the strongly acidic fruits of the bitter orange, this acidic effect also aids in bringing prompt relief from flatulence. An infusion of the orange fruit is said to ease headaches, calm heart palpitations, and lower fevers. Elimination of waste products from the body is hastened by the juice, furthermore the juice is very rich in content of vitamin C - a vitamin essential for proper immune system functioning and as a agent for warding off infection from all kinds of pathogens. There are side effects of excessive use; the acidic nature of the orange juice can exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis in individuals affected by the disorder. The raw fruit is highly regarded in the Chinese herbal medicine system, where it is known as the zhi shi, they believe it helps "regulate the qi," and thus aids in giving relief from persistent flatulence and abdominal bloating. The remedy is also believed to open up the bowels and allow the faster passage of stools. Bitter orange is primarily known for its essential oils, the neroli and the other oils are all sedative in action. The oils are also used in the Western system of medicine, where the oils are used to bring about a reduction in the heart beat rate and to lower cardiac palpitations; the oils are also used to encourage sleepiness in people suffering from insomnia, and are used as an herbal aid to soothe the digestive tract irritations affecting a person. The diluted neroli oil is often applied to the skin as a relaxing massage oil for people affected by different external disorders. The sedative and anti-spasmodic action of the distilled flower water is also very effective and highly regarded.

The health of the cardiovascular system is also promoted effectively by eating an orange a day. A daily glass of orange juice was found to reduce the risk of stroke by twenty five% in trial patients during one study. The regular consumption of citrus based drinks also give similar benefits as results from countless other studies have confirmed - thus all citruses and oranges in particular are really healthy and beneficial. The high vitamin C content of oranges is very good for health. Oranges are also high in levels of the flavonoids, like the compound hesperidin, these substances can revive the vitamin C molecule following its elimination of a free radical in the body. The vitamin C in the body is thus strengthened and amplified in its effect by the presence of the hesperidins. The orange juice has also been shown to be capable of elevating HDL cholesterol or the so called "good" cholesterol and at the same time reducing levels of the LDL the so called bad cholesterol during a recent human subject based clinical trial. The health of the heart is also benefited by the high fiber present in oranges. The high quality dietary fiber pectin is found in many citrus fruits and the levels of this fiber are especially high in tangerines - this type of dietary fiber is preferred as it has many benefits. Cholesterol levels in the body can be significantly lowered by the presence of pectin in the body, and the fiber is a major component of this process. Blood sugar is also stabilized by the presence of the pectin in the body. At least three grams of fiber can be found in a single orange - this fiber has major health benefits for the human body.

Cardiovascular disease is also prevented by the oranges due to its ample supply of the compound called folate, a vitamin at times called folacin or folic acid, as supplements of this B vitamin are called. The B vitamins including folate are vital for many cellular and physiological processes in the body. The average North American diet has been found deficient in the total folic acid levels needed and is below the recommended daily allowances for this important nutrient. Thus a mild to moderate deficiency of the folate is very common in the general population. The deficiency in folate is regarded as one among the most common vitamin deficiencies affecting the populations around the world. The fact that cardiovascular disease can be reduced by the consumption of dietary folate is well known as it plays an important role in the prevention of disease. The presence of folates in the body is also vital for the maintaining normal DNA. Folate also has a role in the prevention of caner of the colon and cervical cancers, while some suggest that breast cancer may also be linked to folate deficiency.
The high concentrations of the compound homocysteine in the blood is lowered by folate and this is a major role of the vitamin. A by-product of protein metabolism, the compound homocysteine is an amino acid and has a significant role in the onset of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease and even vascular disease of the eye has been directly correlated to the presence of high levels of homocysteine in the blood of patients. Homocysteine in the blood is removed by the folate in concert with other B vitamins such as B12 and B6 and perhaps the compound betaine - this is another plant-derived compound probably capable of lowering homocysteine from the human circulatory system when it is present in high levels. Blood vessels can be damaged by the homocysteine build up in the body; this damage can trigger an serious cardiovascular event. Increased folate intake has been actually seen to improve the health of the heart health in people with developed heart disease based on results from several trials.

The potential of oranges playing a very significant role in the prevention of cancer is another area which has been recently researched. By inference itself, it is known that people who follow the Mediterranean diet, have a very low incidence of cancers affecting the breast, the lung, the pancreas, the colon, the rectum, or the citruses are known to be a very prominent item in the Mediterranean diet. The presence of numerous anticancer agents in the citrus fruits has also been confirmed lately - indeed, the amounts of these beneficial compounds are higher in the citruses than in any other groups of food eaten anywhere in the world. Anti-cancer agents in the oranges are believed to act most potently when the whole fruit is eaten rather than the use of extracts. A synergistic effect of the anti-cancer agents in the orange which amplify each other's effect on the body is believed to be occurring in the body. An anti-cancer action is also evident in the soluble fiber- pectin that also benefits the cardiac system directly. The orange is also known to possess antagonists of growth factors for cancer cells; further research will hopefully reveal how these compounds can decrease the growth of tumors in the body. The metastasis of cancer cells in some prostate and melanoma cancers in the presence of pectin has been observed in test animals under laboratory conditions.
The presence of a singular phyto-nutrient in the orange is attracting a lot of the clinical attention in recent times due to its potential as a health promoting compound. This compound is found in the orange peel, which is almost always thrown out as thrash. A phyto-nutrient called limonene in the volatile oil of the peel of citrus fruits and oranges is the compound that is generating interest clinically as a potentially useful compound. Oranges, mandarins, lemons, and limes contain significant amounts of limonene in the peel and smaller quantities in the pulp. Cancer is stopped in its primary stages by the limonene, the compound induces this by stimulates the antioxidant detoxification enzyme system in the body - due to this, cancer cells are unable to grow or spread out. The ability of the proteins in cancer cells which trigger abnormal growth of cells is also effectively reduced by the limonene. The blocking and suppression of tumor cells induced by limonene has been confirmed at least in animals - further research on humans is needed. Compared to all other human populations, the Mediterranean people have the lower rates of certain types of cancers. The main reason for this according to researchers is due to their diet and to some degree because of regular consumption of the citrus peel in the meal.

Oranges also contain abundant vitamin C, a vitamin with a great role in fighting cancer cells and cancer causing antioxidants. The usefulness of the vitamin C in this role can be seen by the fact that a relatively consistent inverse ratio exists between the amounts of vitamin C in the daily diet and cases of the stomach, some oral cancer, and cancer of the esophagus affecting people. The vitamin C is the main compound which protects against some dangerous chemicals like nitrosamines, a major cancer inducing groups of chemicals found in food - the cancers of the mouth, the stomach, and the colon are linked to the presence of high levels of this compound.

The chances and risks of stroke attacks also seem to be reduced by consumption of oranges, and the fruit may well protect against stroke. In one case study involving the stroke risk reduction using fruits and vegetables - citrus fruits and juices were seen to be very effective at inducing a reduced risk from stroke. Clinicians also say that the risk of a sudden stroke in healthy men can be lowered by as much as 25 % by drinking a glass of orange juice a day, while the same risk seems to be lowered only by 2 % from the other consumption of other fruits and juices. When it comes to stroke prevention, the use of the natural fruit or juice seems to give the best and ideal results, while simply taking the vitamin C in supplement form does not appear to confer similar benefits as the fresh fruit - this is interesting, as some other agents in the fresh fruits are the main cause of the beneficial effects. The other protective substances in citrus juices must be what causes the beneficial effects and the power that orange has in protecting a person from sudden strokes. The compounds called polyphenols in the body are the main agents believed to be responsible for this beneficial action according to the current clinical assumptions. At the same time, the most effective means of lowering the risk of developing cataracts in the eye seems to be the consumption of 350 to 400 milligrams and above of supplemental vitamin C daily for a period of one decade.

Other medical uses

Habitat and cultivation

The orange is a native plant of the tropical regions in the Asian continent. Nowadays, the orange is widely grown as a plantation tree throughout the tropics and subtropical areas of the world. Areas along the Mediterranean coast abound in orchards of the bitter orange; Spain in particular has many of these orchards.


The peel of the orange is bitter and is high in a volatile oil composed of limonene - 90% of volume, and various other compounds such as the organic compounds the flavonoids, the coumarins, and the triterpenes, as well as several useful biological molecules like the vitamin C, the carotene, and pectin. The anti-inflammatory, bactericidal, and antifungal action of the flavonoids is very useful in the treatment of many disorders affecting patients. At the same time, the absolute composition and chemical nature of the volatile oils present in the orange leaves, flowers, and peel can very greatly. In the volatile oil of the leaves a chemical compound called the linalyl acetate, about 50% is the main chemical constituent - in the petit grain and the compound called linalool at 35% of total volume is the main component in the oil sourced from the flowers - in neroli. Cirantin is found in the raw fruits of the bitter orange, this compound is reputed to possess a potent contraceptive action.


DECOCTION: The fruit based decoction of the orange can be used in the treatment of problems like indigestion, symptomatic constipation, or persistent coughs. The decoction can be used in a combination formula with some dang gui for the treatment of menstrual pain affecting women.
TINCTURE: Orange based fruit tincture can be taken in drop doses for soothing uneasiness, treating the symptoms of shock, and curing insomnia in patients.
Neroli oil:
CREAM: The oil can be used to fortify cream by mixing one to two drops in some skin cream. This can then be applied on the skin for treating various topical conditions.
MASSAGE OIL: The oil can be mixed at a rate of one to two drops per 10 ml of almond oil and this mixture can be massaged for treating various nervous conditions and problems affecting the digestive system.
ORANGE FLOWER WATER: The flower water of the orange is a distilled byproduct of steam distillation of the orange essence. This solution can be used as a soothing carminative; it can also be taken to alleviate uneasiness, the symptoms of shock, or to treat insomnia in patients. Five to ten ml of this solution in a baby's bottle can be used to treat colic or sleep disorders in babies.
DECOCTION: An herbal decoction can be made using both types of peel; this decoction can be used in the treatment of problems such as indigestion and bloating in the abdominal region. Coughs can be treated by taking the chen pi decoction.
SYRUP: The herbal orange chen pi peel syrup can be taken at 2-4 ml syrup per dose for the treatment of coughs.

Orange caramel custard with pineapple sage

This is an easy yet special dessert. To dissolve caramel that remains in the pot after you empty it, fill the pot with water and bring to a boil.

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons minced pineapplesage
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan, cook the water and 1/2 cup of the sugar over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan rather than stirring, until the sugar becomes a caramel color. Pour the hot caramel into 4 glass custard cups. Tilt the cups to cover the bottom evenly; cool.

Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and remaining sugar. Heat the milk and add it in a stream while whisking the eggs and sugar. Beat in the orange rind, pineapple sage, and vanilla. Fill each cup. Set the cups in a baking pan and fill the pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the cups, then chill for at least 1 hour.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cups. Invert a dessert plate over each cup; turn the cup over. The custard and caramel will slide out. Garnish with pineapple sage leaves.


©2002-2023 herbs2000.com