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.
Contraindications*: Not recommended for those in weak health condition.
Common TCM formulas in which bitter orange seeds are used*:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), bitter orange seeds 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 orange seeds are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that bitter orange seeds typically don'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 bitter orange seeds means that you don't have to worry about that!
Bitter orange seeds also taste Bitter. 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 seeds tend 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 bitter orange seeds are 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.
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