Tangerine peel

Chinese: 陈皮

Pinyin: Chén Pí

Parts used: Dried pericarp of the ripe fruit

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Scientific name: Citrus reticulata

Use of tangerine peel (Chen Pi) 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, spray water, shred and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which tangerine peel may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Loss of appetite Vomiting Diarrhea Coughing Phlegm Abdominal bloating

Contraindications*: Should not be used when there is cough with Yin or Qi Deficiency; this could manifest as Dry cough or coughing blood. It should also be avoided when there is sticky yellow phlegm.

Common TCM formulas in which tangerine peel are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind tangerine peel (Chen Pi)'s properties

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

Tangerine peel also taste Bitter and Pungent. 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 tangerine peel 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.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such tangerine peel are thought to target the Spleen and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. 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 tangerine peel(Chen Pi)

Treatment by Chinese medicine consisting of Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae to promote blood circulation get a favorable result.1


1. Xu RS, Zong XH, Li XG. (2009). Controlled clinical trials of therapeutic effects of Chinese herbs promoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis on the treatment of reflex sympathetic dystrophy with type of stagnation of vital energy and blood stasis. Zhongguo Gu Shang, 22(12):920-2.

Use of tangerine peel (Chen Pi) as food

Tangerine peel are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Tangerine Creme Brulee.