The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Bitter Orange

Scientific Names

Bitter Orange

  • Citrus aurantium L.
  • Poncirus trifolata
  • Rutaceae
  • Rue family

Common Names

  • Seville orange
  • Sour orange

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Parts Usually Used

Flowers, rind of the fruit
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Bitter Orange

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

The orange is an evergreen tree; the trunk is covered with smooth grayish-brown bark; with its branches, it reaches a height of 20-30 feet. Long spines appear beside the buds. The alternate, ovate-oblong leaves are glossy and dotted with glands; their petioles are broadly winged, their margins are sinuate or crenately toothed. One or more fragrant, white, five-petaled flowers grow in the leaf axils. The fruit is the familiar orange (technically an hesperidium), with segmented sour pulp inside a roughish rind. This species is not eaten fresh but is made into marmalade.

Other varieties: Sweet orange (C. sinensis) which is grown for eating, differs from the bitter orange in having narrowly winged petioles and few or no spines. The fruit is usually smaller and has a sweet taste. Medicinally it can be used like bitter orange, but is less effective except as a carminative.

Mandarin orange (C. reticulata) used medicinally much as the bitter orange.
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Where Found

Native to Asia but has become common cultivated (as in Florida, California, etc.). Grown in the far north of the United States (Baltimore) as an ornamental.
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Medicinal Properties

Carminative, expectorant, laxative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic
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Biochemical Information

Neohesperidin, naringin, rhoifolin, lonicerin, vitamin C and flavonoids
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The bitter orange rind is used in Vermouth flavorings. The oil or dried peel is used in many liqueurs and bitters.

Originating in southeast Asia or India, oranges are described in Chinese writings as early as 2200 BC, though their use is thought to date back much farther. The name orange is derived from the Sanskrit word for the fruit, narange. The bitter orange was introduced to Europe by the Crusaders; the sweet orange was not known in Europe until the 15th century, probably brought there from the Orient by Genoese merchants.

The Crusaders observed that Saracen brides wore orange blossom wreaths at their weddings. To the Saracens, the orange was a symbol of fecundity, because the tree bears fruit and blossoms at the same time. After the Crusaders’ return, the custom of using orange blossoms as bridal flowers was adopted in Europe; but it did not become widespread until the 17th century, probably because the blossoms were very rare and expensive until then.

The orange, as a traditional Chinese symbol of good luck and prosperity, is still used today in Chinese New Year’s celebrations.

Bitter orange was bred specially for the extraction of pharmaceutical drugs, primarily in the West Indies and Spain. The bitter orange is only distantly related to the citrus fruits we eat; oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits. The flowers, the small unripe fruits, and the peel, minus the white inner skin, are the parts used pharmaceutically. Flowers have a pleasant scent and ripe fruit contains sweet-smelling essential oil but bitter-tasting flavonoids.
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The dried rind is helpful for dyspepsia and constipation. The oil derived from the fresh rind can be used to dispel flatulence; it makes a pleasant and nonirritating remedy for chronic bronchitis and lack of appetite. An infusion of dried flowers acts as a mild nervous stimulant, but the oil obtained by distillation of the flowers has hypnotic properties when inhaled.
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Nutrient Content

Sweet orange: iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, vitamins B1 and C
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How Sold

Made into marmalades
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Avoid citrus use if gastric or intestinal ulcers exist.
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Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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