English: Bitter orange flowers

Chinese: 代代花

Parts used: Dried flower buds

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cool

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Organ affinity: Liver Stomach

Scientific name: Citrus aurantium

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

Use of Dai Dai Hua (bitter orange flowers) 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 practitioner, 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 Dai Dai Hua may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Constipation Abdominal pain Abdominal colic Vomiting Chest congestion Rectal prolapse

Key TCM concepts behind Dai Dai Hua's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Dai Dai Hua belongs 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 Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness 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 Dai Dai Hua is Cool in nature. This means that Dai Dai Hua tends 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 Dai Dai Hua can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Dai Dai Hua also tastes Bitter and Sweet. 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 Dai Dai Hua tends 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 Dai Dai Hua is thought to target the Liver and the Stomach. In TCM the Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. 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.

Research on Dai Dai Hua

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


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 Dai Dai Hua as food

Dai Dai Hua is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Orange flower crème brûlée.