Herbal Supplements
Bitter Orange and Chen-Pi
Biological Description
Bitter Orange Latin name is Citrus aurantium. It belongs to the broad Rutaceae family. Other common names of the tree include Seville orange, Sour orange, Neroli, Petitgrain, Bergamot, etc. The name “Bitter Orange” actually refers to the unripe fruit of the spiny evergreen tree from the above mentioned family. Citrus auranitum other names come from the oils and extracts made from different parts of the plant.
Bitter Orange tree is usually about 10 meters high with the round crown, ovate glossy leaves, beautiful white fragrant flowers, followed by the oranges, which are very aromatic and juicy, but bitter or sour to the taste. The rind of the fruit is thick, deep red, and aromatic. The seeds of the tree (petit grains) are small, greenish or sometimes brown-black and wrinkled.
It is assumed that the tree of Bitter Orange is indigenous to China or Vietnam. However, it could also be found in different areas of eastern Africa and southern Asia. These days the plant is widely cultivated in all the warm tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
Moderately fertile soils, which are well-drained but not too dry, are a good place for the tree to grow. It needs much sunshine and timely pruning. The tree is long-living and it may give fruits even if it is very old.
Parts Used
Folk medicine practitioners use different parts of Bitter Orange tree to prepare oils and heal a wide variety of diseases. For example, the flowers of Citrus aurantium are used to make Neroli oil, while leaves and twigs of the tree are a source of Petitgrain oil.
Bitter Orange oil is made of the fruit rind, which is commonly known as Chen-Pi. This peel is red, oily, and aromatic. Its taste is described not only as bitter, but even pungent, although from the very beginning it may seem slightly sweet.
Bitter orange can be used as tea or tincture. It is available in tablets, capsules with the dried rind powder, extracts, and oils.
Bitter Orange tree chemical composition consists of a large number of different elements, which are beneficial for the human health. It is a rich source of vitamin C, dietary fiber pectin, and folic acid. It is also a home for tetracyclic triterpenes, flavonoids (which have venotonic properties, for example, hesperidin), tannins, saponins, coumarins and carotenoids.
Perhaps, the most important constituents in the Bitter Orange are alkaloids synephrine, octopamine, and N-methyltyramine, whichwork similarly to ephedrine in Ephedra. They are the ones to hopefully possess beneficial properties for the human health; however, they are also a stumbling block for the scientists who suggest that these elements may be dangerous for people suffering from cardiovascular disorders.
Other chemicals with positive effects, found in the Bitter Orange, are limonoids, polyphenols, ethereal oils, and lignans.
Chemically rich composition of Bitter Orange ensures its powers to be used as a laxative, sedative, digestive tonic, appetite suppressant, anti-spasmodic, decongestant, cardiovascular protector (although, scientists have doubts concerning this point), antidepressant, pain-killer, diuretic, expectorant, etc. The list of properties attributed to Bitter Orange by herbalists is not complete; however, few of these have been extensively researched by the modern scientists by this time.
Health Benefits
Nowadays Bitter Orange is most often used in the remedies, which are said to fight overweight and obesity. The extracts of the fruit peel may work by suppressing appetite and promoting the use of fat stored in the body as the source of energy. It may also increase metabolic rates.
Low blood pressure may be fought with the help of Bitter Orange extract, because it contains synephrine, which can shunt blood flow to the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. Natsuidaidain form this plant regulates the work of the heart increasing its rate if taken in small doses and reducing if large doses are used. Therefore, congestive heart failure and arterial failure are believed to be treated by Bitter Orange.
Cancer treatment is another possible benefit of the tree oils. It is stated that Bitter Orange monoterpenes may stop or at least slow down the growth of cancer tumours in the body.
Traditionally, Bitter Orange remedies were used to treat and prevent different types of allergies. The tees of the fruit peel and the fruit itself was used for this purpose. However, Chinese herbalists always prescribe Bitter Orange in combination with other herbs and confirm that the unripe fruit possess better properties than the ripe one.
Another traditional use of Bitter Orange teas and tinctures is to heal the digestive disturbances as constipation, nausea, indigestion, abdominal cramps, gas, bloating, etc.
Since the plant is said to work as a sedative, it is often used for anxiety elimination, insomnia treatment, as well as for the relieving of pain and headaches.
Anaemia can also be treated with the help of Bitter Orange due to the large amount of vitamin C in its oils and extracts.
The field of Bitter Orange application is very wide; however, more research is necessary to evaluate all its effectiveness and properties.
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2012-02-19 23:39:30
since your site is on chinese herbs, suggest you may want to attach the chinese name on each herb
2010-08-03 08:49:37
This is not recommended for use due to health issues it can cause due to side effects.
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