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  • Writer's pictureAmy Malone RN LAc DiplOM

TCM Tip of the Month: December 2019

I think most of us can agree that oranges are delicious, if not, then maybe this particular tip isn't for you. For December, we are talking all things orange and why you should save your orange peels to make a tummy taming dried orange tea!

One of the most interesting and amazing things about Chinese medicine and many other traditional medicines is the use of food as medicine. Many of the herbs that we learn in our Materia Medica as Chinese herbalists are in fact food items. Chinese Medicine has a host of uses for citrus fruits! We are going to look at the uses of 4 different types of orange used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

The first is Chen Pi. Chen Pi is the aged peel of a ripe tangerine. The peel of a ripe tangerine or mandarin orange is sun dried and then used in herbal medicine preparations. It is a warm herb with a sweet, bitter and pungent taste with the benefits of regulating digestive energy, reducing bloat, decreasing phlegm and smoothing out digestion. The peel contains volatile oils, inositol, B1, and VitC which contribute to these actions. The vitamin C will also help your immune system.

The second is Qing Pi. Qing Pi is the peel of an unripe, green or immature tangerine or mandarin orange. The actions of Qing Pi are similar to that of Chen Pi but are stronger. It has an increased effect of moving stagnation and can help alleviate pain in the abdomen or under the ribs. It has properties of improving circulation as well.

The third is Zhi Ke. Zhi Ke is the fruit of a ripe tangerine or mandarin orange. The fruit is typically sliced and dried including the peel, as depicted in the image above. It has a gentle and mild effect on digestion, helping to eliminate distention and bloating. Because it is mild, it is a great herb for those with digestive sensitivity. It is often better tolerated than Zhi Shi (below) for those with digestive deficiency.

The fourth citrus is Zhi Shi. Zhi Shi is the fruit of an unripe, green or immature tangerine or mandarin orange. It works synergistically with Zhi Ke, and often they are paired together. It has a cooling nature and works to eliminate stagnant digestion, regulate bowel movements, and reduce abdominal pain related to food stagnation in the stomach. Because this herb is stronger than Shi Ke, it is preferential to Zhi Ke when treating constipation that is a result of food stagnation.

So now that you can see the digestive benefits of one of America's favorite fruits, here's a great way to get the most out of your oranges. Make your own Chen Pi!

First, it is best to use oranges that are unwaxed and unsprayed, ideally organic and of coarse, cleaned before consumption. When you peel your oranges, tangerines, cuties, save the peel and string them up, hang them in front of a window that gets some sun until they are fully dried and hardened, then store them in an airtight container.

You can use them to steep as tea to help with digestion and get some extra vitamin c. You can also add the dried peels to soups, stews or the rice cooker for some extra aromatic flavor and digestive benefits.

**All information and resources found on are based on the opinions, experience and research of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their health care provider...even if that provider may be the author ;)

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