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: Pick the fruit when unripe. Dry it and cut in slices
Dosage: 3 - 9 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs.
Primary conditions or symptoms for which immature bitter oranges may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Indigestion Abdominal bloating Constipation Chest pain Chest congestion Rectal prolapse Uterine prolapse
Contraindications*: This herb should be used with caution during pregnancy, when there is Q! Deficiency or when there is Cold in the Stomach.
Source date: 1247 AD
Number of ingredients: 8 herbs
Formula key actions: Reduces and guides out stagnation and accumulation. Drains heat. Dispels dampness.
Zhi Shi is a king ingredient in Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan, Zhi Shi breaks up stagnant Qi and reduce accumulation
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 4 herbs
Formula key actions: Regulates Liver and Spleen. Eliminates Internal Heat.
Zhi Shi is a deputy ingredient in Si Ni San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
Its descending action pairs it well with the ascending action of Chai Hu (the key herb): the effect of the different directions is to disentangle Heat in the Liver, Stomach and Spleen territories.
Source date: 1174 AD
Number of ingredients: 8 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.
Zhi Shi is an assistant ingredient in Wen Dan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
In Wen Dan Tang, Zhi Shi reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi and is particularly effective in treating focal distention.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), immature bitter oranges 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 immature bitter oranges are plants that are Cool in nature. This means that immature bitter oranges tend 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 immature bitter oranges can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Immature Bitter Oranges also taste 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 immature bitter oranges 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 immature bitter oranges are thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Large intestine. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. 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. The Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces.