Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, cut and dry.
Dosage: 3 - 10 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: To regulate the flow of Qi, remove its stagnation, and alleviate distension.
Contraindications*: Use with caution when pregnant
Source date: 1798 AD
Number of ingredients: 11 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Dry-Cold. Disseminates the Lung Qi and relieves cough. Transforms thin mucus.
Zhi Ke is a deputy ingredient in Xing Su San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Xing Su San, Zhi Ke moves the Qi, expands the chest, and stops the coughing by regulating the Qi.
Source date: Qing Dynasty
Number of ingredients: 10 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder. Relieves acute Damp-Heat syndromes. Resolves Phlegm. Harmonizes the Stomach.
Zhi Ke is a deputy ingredient in Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
In Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang, Zhi Ke , together with Crow-dipper rhizome (Ban Xia) and Tangerine peel (Chen Pi), other deputies of this formula, drains Gallbladder and Stomach Heat, directs rebellious Qi downward, harmonizes the Stomach, and transforms Phlegm.
Source date: 1830 AD
Number of ingredients: 11 herbs
Formula key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.
Zhi Ke is an assistant ingredient in Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
In Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Zhi Ke it expands the chest and supports Qi movement together with other assistant herbs. They eliminate Qi Stagnation in the chest and supports the Qi movement so as to facilitate Blood circulation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bitter oranges are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.
Furthermore bitter oranges are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that bitter oranges tend to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess(because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition bitter oranges can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Bitter oranges also taste Bitter, Pungent and Sour. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like bitter oranges tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food. Lastly Sour ingredients help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such bitter oranges are thought to target the Spleen and the Stomach. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.