Use Citrus Peels to Promote Better Health

In Eastern herbal medicine, tangerine peel is included in many formulas.

“Let thy food be thy medicine” is a rule that as a naturopathic and Eastern medicine doctor comes up with every person. 

What we eat is integral to nourishing our cells, connecting with the earth, and connecting with friends and family. One basic component of this is eating what is local and in season. Another is eating the foods that balance and complement the current dynamics of each individual.

This leads us to using citrus peels in food creations to satisfy locale, seasonality, and qi stagnation. 

Nature is always preparing and protecting us if we take the time to notice. Being high in water, vitamin C, and bio-photons, citrus peels are great tonic for us during the winter. 

In Eastern herbal medicine, tangerine peel is included in many formulas. When giving nutritional recommendations based on liver depression and qi stagnation, these peels are included, usually in tea form. 

The traditional texts use tangerine peel, Chen Pi or Qing Pi, depending on their age, but all citrus have similar properties. Aged tangerine peel regulates the qi flow, directing it downward to relieve bloating, nausea and vomiting. It also has a profound effect on the lungs, drying dampness and transforming phlegm. 

This herb is moderate in strength, good for mild conditions of qi stagnation with less accumulation of phlegm. Because it is acrid, bitter and warm, it should be discontinued when symptoms resolve.  

The unripe tangerine peel has similar action, but stronger.  It breaks up stagnant qi, dissipates clumps in the case of food stagnation or blood stasis causing pain. The unripe version is like an unruly child moving through and breaking things and opening up the flow while the aged version is like a helpful sage, gently moving but also strengthening organ systems so the body can regulate on its own. 

The unripe Qing Pi possesses the just-ripening energetics of spring time wood relating to liver, while the aged Chen Pi has the harmonious nature of earth and so it relates to spleen and improving digestion.  

Select the cleanest version available, whether that’s organic, local or both. Wash the peel well, cut in thin strips and add to teas or hot water to enjoy solo. The aroma and flavor immediately gets qi moving, promoting mental awareness and positive mood.