Did you know that oranges are among the oldest cultivated fruits and they were mentioned in ancient Chinese literature as long ago as 2,400 BCE? It’s true! The dried peel, from both the bitter and sweet orange, and essential oil from the sweet orange, have been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments including coughs, colds, anorexia, cystic breasts, digestive spasms, stagnant digestion, respiratory congestion, and constipation. From the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), the vitamin C-rich fresh juice and essential oil have offered valuable protection against infectious diseases as well. Sounds like a good fruit to have on hand and an essential oil to include in your natural medicine cabinet, right?
Photo by Michaela Jebb
Sweet orange trees are extensively cultivated today in the United States (California and Florida), Brazil, Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean region, and Israel. Much of the essential oil is produced in the United States, Brazil, Israel, Sprain, and Cyprus.
The yellowish-orange essential oil, with its familiar, rich, lively, zesty aroma, is cold-expressed from the outer peel of the ripe or near-ripe fresh fruit. Be aware that sweet orange essential oil oxidizes quickly (as do all citrus oils), so use it within 1 year, or 2 years if you keep it refrigerated.
Sweet orange essential oil has a gently warming energy, with antibacterial, antiseptic, deodorizing, cleansing, carminative/digestive, and mild astringent/diuretic properties. This bright, cheerful oil also lifts the spirits, helping to improve your mood. It helps open the heart, and reduce irritability, nervous tension, anxiety, restlessness, and other stress-related conditions, including PMS.
Like other citrus oils, such as lemon, lime, bergamot, and grapefruit, it instills a general feeling of well-being and builds your sense of humor. Especially calming and balancing, this oil will help you relax and unwind, no matter how chaotic your day.
Sweet orange essential oil is considered nontoxic, nonirritating, and generally non-sensitizing, with only a low risk of photosensitivity, and can even be used with young children. Always keep in mind that when using any essential oil, adherence to safety guidelines and dilution protocol is vital. In my new book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (Storey Publishing, 2018), I discuss safety tips, special precautions to take with children and infants, and dilution guidelines for various methods of application. Less is more with essential oils as they are highly concentrated plant remedies. Please educate yourself prior to using any essential oil, whether for self-care or when using on friends, family, or clients.
Below are some of my favorite ways to use sweet orange essential oil:
- As an aromatically pleasing nervous system tonic for children—great for use at bedtime when blended into a relaxing foot massage oil (6 drops to 1 ounce carrier oil) or diffused into their bedroom for 20 minutes.
- In the morning, I diffuse it in the kitchen while eating breakfast; starts my day off on a sunny, joyous note.
- As a topical digestive aid to help relieve constipation, cramping, and gas, I like combine 2 drops of orange essential oil with 2 drops of peppermint oil in 1 teaspoon carrier oil and massage my own belly in a counter-clockwise direction, beginning at the navel and spiraling outward, ending at the top of the left thigh, to encourage the digestive process to move in the normal direction. If massaging someone else’s belly, use a clockwise direction.
- Added to a moisturizing, muscle-relaxing, skin-soothing bath blend. (See recipe below.)
Photo by Mars Vilaubi
Orange-Honey-Cream Moisturizing Bath
Imagine the familiar, smooth, fruity scent of orange peel softened by sweet honey and the essence of rich cream. Ahhh . . . just the thought of slipping into a tub filled with this skin-pampering blend is enough to instill a bit of tranquility and make you feel pampered! The aroma of sweet orange and calming lavender soothes the senses, while honey and cream—natural moisturizers—nourish your skin. It’s the perfect way to end a hectic day, and it’s guaranteed to comfort and calm irritable young ones as well. Indulge, won’t you? Safe for folks 2 years of age and older.
• 5 drops sweet orange
• 3 drops lavender
• 1/4 cup honey, preferably raw
• 1/2 cup heavy cream, preferably organic (you can substitute light cream, half-and-half, or full-fat coconut milk)
To Make the Bath: Fill the tub with warm water. Meanwhile, combine the honey, cream, and orange and lavender essential oils in a small bowl. Stir well.
To Use: Add the mixture to the tub and swish with your hands to thoroughly disperse the ingredients. Step in and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. When you’re finished, pat your skin damp-dry and apply your favorite natural lotion or cream, if desired.
Yield: Makes enough for 1 bath
Recipe excerpted from Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (2018). Used by permission from Storey Publishing.