English: Citron

Chinese: 香橼

Parts used: Dried ripe fruits

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungentSour

Organ affinity: Spleen Liver Lung

Scientific name: Citrus medica

Use of Xiang Yuan (citron) 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, cut thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 3-10 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Regulates the flow of Qi in the Liver and Stomach. Removes phlegm and calms the spirit.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Xiang Yuan may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Phlegm Coughing Vomiting Abdominal bloating Chest congestion Restlessness

Contraindications*: Not recommended for pregnant women and those have hot Blood due to Yin deficiency.

Key TCM concepts behind Xiang Yuan's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Xiang Yuan 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 Xiang Yuan is Warm in nature. This means that Xiang Yuan tends 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 Xiang Yuan can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Xiang Yuan also tastes 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 Xiang Yuan 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 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 Xiang Yuan is thought to target the Spleen, the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in 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. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on Xiang Yuan

Citrus medica was shown to have antioxidant, hypoglycaemic and anticholinesterase properties in vitro. Oxidative damage, caused by the action of free radicals, may initiate and promote the progression of a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Citrus medica may therefore help mitigate the progression of such diseases.1


1. Conforti, F. , Statti, G. A., Tundis, R. , Loizzo, M. R. and Menichini, F. (2007), In vitro activities of Citrus medica L. cv. Diamante (Diamante citron) relevant to treatment of diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Phytother. Res., 21: 427-433. doi:10.1002/ptr.2077

Use of Xiang Yuan as food

Xiang Yuan is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Citron tarte.