English: Bitter orange seeds

Chinese: 橘核

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Citrus aurantium

Use of Ju He (bitter orange seeds) 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: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water and dry. Crush before use.

Dosage: 3 -9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Regulates the flow of the Qi. Disperses nodules and relieves pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Ju He may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Mastitis Clogged milk ducts Hernial pain Testicular pain Carbuncles Abcesses

Contraindications*: Not recommended for those in weak health condition.

Common TCM formulas in which Ju He is used*

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Conditions targeted*: HepatitisChronic gastritis and others

Ju He is an assistant ingredient in Chai Hu Shu Gan San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Chai Hu Shu Gan San, Ju He works together with Tangerine peel, another assistant, to regulate the Qi of the Stomach and the Intestines. Also they together direct Qi downward to help remove the excess buildup of it in the chest and th Middle Burner (what creates the symptoms of distention and a sensation of fullness). 

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Key TCM concepts behind Ju He's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ju He belongs 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 Ju He is Neutral in nature. This means that Ju He typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Ju He means that you don't have to worry about that!

Ju He also tastes Bitter. 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 Ju He tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Ju He is thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. 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 the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on Ju He

Limonin isolated from the seeds of bittersweet orange (Citrus aurantium) were shown on rats to have a positive effect on the treatment of acute hepatic inflammation via the attenuation of inflammation and the reduction of oxidative stress.1


1. Mahmoud, M.F., Hamdan, D.I., Wink, M. et al. (2014). Hepatoprotective effect of limonin, a natural limonoid from the seed of Citrus aurantium var. bigaradia, on D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in rats. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Arch Pharmacol, 387: 251. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00210-013-0937-1