Chinese: 香橼

Pinyin: Xiānɡ Yuán

Parts used: Dried ripe fruits

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungentSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiverLung

Scientific name: Citrus medica

Use of citron (Xiang Yuan) 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 citron 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 citron (Xiang Yuan)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), citron 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 citron are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that citron tend 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 citron can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Citron also taste Bitter, Pungent and Sour. 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 citron 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 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 citron are thought to target the Spleen, the Liver and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on citron(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 citron (Xiang Yuan) as food

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