Since the orange tree arrived on the Mediterranean coast of southern Europe from the Middle East and Asia in Ancient Times, its success has never decreased. Its elegant shape, the rich aroma of its flowers, and overall the excellence of its fruit—as with sweet oranges—made it conquer the fields and tables of the whole world.
A few years after Columbus reached America, Spaniards took the orange tree there, specifically to Mexico, Florida, and California, where we currently find the most extensive orange orchards.
Orange Tree Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name—Citrus aurantium L.
- Similar Species—Citrus aurantium, var. sinensis L = Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck, (sweet orange).
- Other Names—Bitter orange, sour orange, Seville orange.
- Environment—Indigenous to Central Asia, the cultivation of orange trees has spread all over the Mediterranean region and throughout the warm areas of America.
- Description—A tree with thorns on its branches of the Rutaceae family, growing up from 2 to 5 m high. Its evergreen leaves bear a small, winged heart-shaped petiole. Flowers are white and grow on the axis of leaves. Its fruits are well-known oranges.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally—Leaves, flowers, and fruits (especially those of the sweet orange tree.
People suffering from gall bladder dysfunction should avoid breakfast oranges. Due to their cholagogue action, they provoke quick emptying of the gall bladder, which may produce slight abdominal upsets such as the feeling of bloatedness in the stomach and a sensation of distension.
The entire orange tree is rich in aromatic essences with medicinal effects, though the highest concentration is found in its flowers. The sweet orange is the most known and cultivated of its varieties. However, the bitter or sour type of orange tree is most often used in phytotherapy. Even though both orange trees offer the same properties, the bitter orange has a higher concentration of aromatic substances and active components.
The LEAVES, and generally the FLOWERS of the orange tree, known in some countries by Azahar (from Arabic az-Zahar, which means white flower), contain an essence composed of limonene and linalool, among other aromatic substances. It owes its sedative, antispasmodic, and slightly somniferous (producing sleepiness) action to these substances. Its use is recommended in the following conditions:
- Insomnia—It provides mild sedation, which makes it easier to fall asleep.
- Nervousness and irritability—It renders good results in these cases, without the danger of addiction or other harmful side effects. It may be taken even by children, which tranquilizes, producing calm sleep.
- Migraines—caused by arterial spasms.
- Digestive dysfunction—Stomach spasms and gastric pain of a nervous origin (nerves in the stomach), and aerophagia and belching.
- Heart palpitations, fainting, and weakness—Oranges blossoms are part of the famous Carmel water, along with the melissa.
- Menstrual pain—Caused by uterine spasms.
Orange blossom essence is extracted from the flowers, and the essence called petitgrain is removed from the leaves.
The RIND of the fruits, especially that of the bitter oranges, is rich in flavonoid glycosides (naringin, hesperidin, and rhutine), whose action is similar to that of vitamin P. Thus, it is used in cases of capillary and vascular weakness (edema, varicose veins, blood clotting dysfunction). It is an excellent digestive tonic with an appetizer effect, and it aids in digestion. It also has a slight sedative effect, like the flowers and leaves.
The Sweet Orange
Sweet orange is among the most appreciated fruits in cold countries since it is a source of vitamin C in winter. It is directly eaten, or it’s delicious juice drunk. Orange juice must be drunk immediately after being prepared to take advantage of its medicinal and nutritional properties.
Vitamin C is quickly destroyed when in contact with oxygen, and other components that undergo unfavorable changes notably alter their aspect and flavor. Thus, vitamin C is usually added to industrial orange juices, though this does not recreate all the original properties.
Oranges contain vitamins A, B, C, and P, flavonoids, sugars, organic acids, and mineral salts. They have antiscorbutic (preventing scurvy), stimulating, flavorful, and cholagogue properties (provoking gall bladder emptying). They are recommended in the following cases:
- Infectious diseases or fever.
- Fatigue, asthenia (sensation of tiredness).
- Malnutrition, anemia, rickets.
- Thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, and circulation dysfunctions in general. Oranges diminish blood viscosity and produce a protective effect on blood vessels due to vitamin P, among other substances.
Bitter oranges are commonly used only for jellies and marmalades.
How to use Orange Tree
- Infusion of leaves and/or flowers, 10-20 grams per liter of water (3 leaves or 6 flowers are sufficient to formulate a sedative infusion). Drink three or four cups daily, especially before going to bed.
- Decoction. Boil 30 grams of dry rind, cut into pieces, in half a liter of water for 15 minutes. It may be sweetened with honey. Drink a cup after each meal.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 153, 154. Print.