Bitter orange flowers

Chinese: 代代花

Pinyin: Dài Dài Huā

Parts used: Dried flower buds

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLiver

Scientific name: Citrus aurantium

Other names: Seville orange flowers, Sour orange flowers, Bigarade orange flowers, Marmalade orange flowers

Use of bitter orange flowers (Dài Dài Huā) in TCM

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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Cut the buds in half after picking and dry them

Dosage: 4-5 buds

Main actions according to TCM*: Regulates the flow of Qi. For constipation, abdominal pain and chest congestion. Remove phlegm and smooth digestion. Regulates the flow of Qi.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which bitter orange flowers may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Constipation Abdominal pain Abdominal colic Vomiting Chest congestion Rectal prolapse

Key TCM concepts behind bitter orange flowers' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bitter orange flowers are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Damp that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Damp accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore bitter orange flowers are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that bitter orange flowers tend to help people who have too much "heat" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition bitter orange flowers can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bitter orange flowers also taste Bitter and Sweet. The so-called "five elements" 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 orange flowers 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 Sweet ingredients tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such bitter orange flowers are thought to target the Stomach and the Liver. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on bitter orange flowers

Bitter orange contains the tyramine metabolites N-methyltyramine, octopamine and synephrine. Several clinical trials have had results of p-Synephrine increasing weight loss slightly.1

Sources:

1. Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M (August 2012). "A review of the human clinical studies involving Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) extract and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine". Int J Med Sci. 9 (7): 527–538. doi:10.7150/ijms.4446

Use of bitter orange flowers as food

Bitter orange flowers are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Orange flower crème brûlée.