The peels of bothC. Aurantiumand the sweeter mandarin orange (Citrus reticulate)are used in Chinese medicine. The orange is considered effective for clearing obstructions. The peels are primarily used to improve digestion, relieve gas and bloating. When symptoms of digestive disturbances, such as diarrhea or constipation, occur together with respiratory symptoms of phlegm and chest congestion, bitter orange rinds are used to treat them together.
As the problem of antimicrobial-resistant organisms spreads, the interest in plant sources of anti-fungals, antibiotics and anti-viral agents has increased. Bitter orange oil has been studied for its success treating microbial infections, such as Athletes foot and ring worm. Orange oil has demonstrated promising efficacy against fungus, although used as a pure oil it can be somewhat irritating to the skin. Cold-pressed terpeneless Valencia orange oil and an extract of limonene both inhibit the growth of Campylobacter and Arcobater species of bacteria.
The fragrant essential oil of orange has been shown to reduce anxiety before operations, in patients awaiting dental procedures, and in kids having dental work done. These effects were not based on self-report, but were demonstrated in lowered pulse rates and salivary cortisol levels. In one study that compared self-reports of anxiety and the systolic blood pressure in patients exposed to neroli oil fromC. Aurantiumor placebo when undergoing a colonoscopy showed that the physiological change of lowered blood pressure happened even when the experience of anxiety was present.
The antioxidant-rich orange is useful for improving flow through blood vessels. Endothelial damage from obesity was found to improve in teenagers who were given capsules of driedC. aurantiumover just one month. Longer trials are needed, but this supports a larger body of research into the flavonoids and antioxidants that are abundant in orange peels and ability to repair the walls of blood vessels.
The main alkaloid in bitter oranges is p-synephrine and it has been the center of some controversy. As a common ingredient in ephedrine-free weight loss supplements, there are recommendations against its safety. P-synephrine is a beta agonist, which means it increases the breakdown of fat and the production of energy. A similar agent, meta-synephrine, does not naturally occur in oranges, but is sometimes synthesized and added to weight loss supplements. While p-synephrine does not bind to the receptors in the body that raise blood pressure, m-syneprhine does. The concerns about p-synephrine dont appear to be well-founded, but they do persist. The synephrine of bitter orange is a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Orange oil has been used to enhance tired blood, most likely anemia, as well as fatigue from viral infections, impurities of the skin, hair loss, bruising, pain and frost bite. It has been used for several conditions of the eye, including swollen lids and bleeding from the retina. Most likely due to its anti-microbial action, it has been used to treat bed sores.
What should I look for in an orange oil?
Cold-pressed orange essential oils are generally pale in color, but may vary depending on the time of year and type of orange that was used. It should smell strongly like oranges, although neroli oil from bitter oranges may smell unlike the expected citrus aroma. If the oil has been distilled, it will be clear and may be thinner than a pressed oil, as all waxes and residues will have been removed in processing. If using it as a topical agent that will remain on the skin, look for a psoralen-free orange oil.
If I am allergic to citrus, can I use orange oil?
If you have an allergy to any kind of citrus, or if you are not sure if you have a citrus allergy, orange oil should be avoided, even as a topical agent. The IgE reaction that occurs when someone has an orange allergy seems to cause a cross-reaction with pollen, so if you know you have a strong pollen allergy, talk to your doctor before trying citrus oil.
Is it safe to use orange oil on kids?
Do not use orange oil on the skin of kids if they will be in the sun. It can raise their risk for sunburns and skin cancer. Orange, as a member of the citrus family, is a common allergen, so watch closely for signs of allergic reaction. Never use undiluted orange oil on the skin, and always watch for irritation when using any preparation with essential oils on the skin. Allergies can develop over time.
Never give a child any essential oil internally. A drop of essential oil diluted in a carrier oil applied to the feet is sufficient to get the benefits for a child.
How long is the shelf life of orange oil?
Kept under proper storage conditions, orange oil will only last about nine to 12 months. It should be stored in a dark bottle and in a cool, dark place since light and heat will oxidize it. Watch for clouding or an unpleasant smell as signs it has spoiled.
Can I use it on my skin?
Orange oil alone is very irritating to the skin. Even when used as a topical anti-fungal, it should be diluted to represent only 25 percent or less of the solution. Orange oil on the skin in the sun is photosensitizing, possibly increasing your risk of a sunburn, and photocarcinogenic, potentially increasing the risk of skin cancer. This will not occur from use of products that wash off, such as shampoo or soaps, as these do not leave the furocoumarins on the skin. Use caution with orange oils in products used on sun-exposed skin, such as lotions.
Caution And Considerations
Use caution with orange or any citrus oil on the skin. They are photosensitizing and can increase the risk of a sunburn or increase the risk of skin cancer. If you are at high risk for skin cancer, there may be reason to be cautious with orange juice consumption, as the oils present in the juice and pulp may be photosensitizing as well.
While orange juice is safe to drink, never take essential oils internally.
Orange juice, like its fellow citrus member grapefruit, can have some effect on how you metabolize medications. If you are using medication, ask your doctor what a safe level of orange juice intake is for you.
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