Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium var. Amara) is in the citrus family of essential oils. It is native to the Far East especially India and China but is well adapted to the Mediterranean area. It is also grown abundantly in California, Israel and South America. The leaves of the bitter orange tree are used for the production of petitgrain oil and the blossoms for neroli oil. This evergreen tree is about 30 feet high, has dark green, glossy, oval leaves, has a smooth grayish trunk and branches and very fragrant white flowers. The fruit is smaller and darker than the sweet orange. Since this tree has a higher resistance to disease it is often used as root stock for other citrus trees, including the sweet orange.
Traditionally in Chinese medicine the treated bitter orange and occasionally its peel are used in breeding prolapsed of the uterus and of the anus, diarrhea, and blood in the feces.
How Can Bitter Orange Help Us Today?
The treated bitter orange peel is used as a tonic and for relief of gas and indigestion. The oil has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Actually we rarely use this oil by itself since it is usually blended with other oils. As for safety, bitter orange is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing but it is very phototoxic.
Want to learn more about the healing properties of bitter orange and other essential oils? Consider becoming a certified aromatherapist. Educational courses in healing energy and aromatherapy can help you understand how essential oils heal the body / mind / spirit. The Institute of Spiritual Healing & Aromatherapy is offering courses throughout the United States.