ORIGIN OF THE NAME
The English name originates from its Sanskrit name naranj.
Orange originated in East Asia (China and India) and was described in ancient Chinese texts as far back as 2200BC where it was used in Chinese medicine and as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. It was first brought to Europe in 1520 by Portuguese explorers returning from Southern China and thus became known as the ‘Portuguese Orange’ Along with the lemon.
It was introduced to the New World by Columbus and was then grown in the West Indies and Florida. It is now cultivated in other warm climates including Costa Rica, Brazil, France, Israel, Spain, Cypress, Greece, Sicily and California. The largest producers are California, Brazil, Florida and Israel.
The Citrus genus includes a wide variety of evergreen and semi-evergreen trees and shrubs, the forebear of all present day varieties was most likely the Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium var. amara) which is a larger and hardier tree than the Sweet Orange.
The Mandarin tree (Citrus reticulata) is a smaller more spreading tree than the Sweet Orange with smaller leaves and more delicately scented peel.
The orange tree grows to a height of 8m and has alternate dark green ovate leaves with fragrant white or pink star-shaped flowers. There are numerous cultivated varieties of sweet orange, including Jaffa, Navel and Valencia. The so called Blood Oranges have a distinctive red flesh.
Sweet Orange essential oil is cold pressed/expressed from the rind of the fresh ripe/almost ripe fruit and sometimes referred to by certain aromatherapy books as an essence, rather than an essential oil, as it has not been produced by distillation. The yield produced is approximately 0.5%.
A true orange oil is bright orange in colour and has a zesty, refreshing sweet and fruity aroma. A good oil should smell like you have just peeled a fresh orange, with a vibrant warm and fruity aroma.
CHEMICAL MAKE UP
Orange is both a top and middle note. Light, refreshing and at the same time long lasting. The scent is a joyful, comforting and reassuring.
The main chemical constituents are monoterpenes including limonene (79-80%); monoterpenols incl linalool (1.8%); ketones incl carvone (1.8%); numerous compounds including coumarins and furocoumarins.
Antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, digestive stimulant, stomachic, cholagogic, hepatic stimulant.
Dried peel of the sweet orange was used in ancient Chinese medicine to treat coughs, colds and anorexia. Dried peel of the bitter orange was used more often to stimulate digestion and relieve spasms.
In 18th Century Europe oranges gained a reputation for alleviating nervous disorders, heart problems, colic, asthma and melancholy. Extremely delicious and nutritious the fruit is rich in vitamins A, B and C and a good choice of snack when one is feeling poorly or under stress.
Energetically speaking, orange oil is of neutral temperature and neutral moisture, working largely on the Wood Element. Whenever there is an excessive build-up of stress and frustration, the Qi becomes blocked and stagnant causing a disharmony in the Liver. Sweet orange helps to move stagnant Qi energy and ease tension and frustration.
Its warm sunny, sweet aroma conveys joy and positivity, dispersing the moodiness and irritability that takes hold when ones Qi-energy stagnates.
In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Orange’s key actions and uses involve regulation of the Qi in the Stomach and intestines, promotion of digestion and bowel function which translates in plain speak to situations of dyspepsia, epigastric and abdominal pain or distension, hiccoughs, belching, gastric reflux, nausea, flatulence, spastic colon and IBS.
In addition Orange is said to regulate the Liver-Qi, relax the nerve and calm the Shen as well as uplifting the Spirit meaning it is helpful when suffering from nervous tension, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, ‘over-thinking’, worry, anxiety and depression.
Sweet Orange is a mild sedative for the nervous system and helps to soothe and relax the nerves, making it a useful addition to a blend for insomnia. Its joyful scent is much loved by children so makes an excellent addition to an evening bath or massage blend. Blend with vetiver, lavender and chamomile to bring on sweet slumbers.
According to Salvatore Battaglia, sweet orange oil is beneficial and soothing to dry, irritated or acne prone skin conditions. It has a normalising effect on the peristaltic actions of the intestines so is helpful for both constipation and chronic diarrhoea. It stimulates lymph fluids which is helpful when treating swollen tissue.
The psychological action of Sweet Orange is very similar to Neroli, Mandarin and Bergamot in that it is indicated for nervous tension, irritability, frustration and depression.
Author Robbi Zeck writes that Orange might help you loosen up and find your sense of humour when you are feeling gloomy and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Use it to move from serious to light hearted.
According to Gabriel Mojay, sweet orange is ideally suited to the efficient, hard working individual who strives for perfection and achievement but who is intolerant to little mishaps and mistakes. People who are excellent planners but find it difficult to delegate, ask for advice or help, will find sweet orange helps them take a more relaxed approach, encouraging adaptability and the smooth handling of events.
Associated with Jupiter, the planet of optimism, sweet orange also instils a more positive attitude and a philosophical view of difficulties. By conveying an easy going skilful approach to life the oil truly embodies ‘good luck’.
In short, if you are feeling tense, frustrated or disappointed and need relaxing, comforting and uplifting, reach for your bottle of Sweet Orange.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
Sweet Orange blends well with the other citrus oils as well as chamomile, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, frankincense, nutmeg, juniper, neroli, petitgrain, sandalwood, jasmine, ylang-ylang, clary sage, lavender and rose.
It makes a good addition to a room fragrance in offices, classrooms and hospices where it adds a cheery uplifting fragrance. Add to your respiratory blends to take the edge of any medicinal aromas.
Sweet Orange is much loved by children, who find the fruity fragrance reminiscent of sweets so can be added to their baths, a diffuser or to a massage blend with vetiver, chamomile, lavender and jojoba.
For those interested in perfumery, Sweet Orange is an absolute must in your collection of oils for its beautiful top and middle notes.
ITHMA Course Notes
Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit by Gabriel Mojay
Medical Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia
The Blossoming Heart by Robbi Zeck