Name: Citrus: Lemon & Orange
Energetics: Lemon – Cool, dry. Orange- Warm, dry.
Taste: Lemon – Aromatic, sour, bitter. Orange – Aromatic, sour, sweet, bitter
Actions: Aromatic, Carminative
While Citrus is not native to New Mexico, it is easily available and the trees can even be grown successfully in a consistently warm house. It is also a very traditional remedy for the Hispanic people I have learned from, as are many common kitchen spices and foods.
Citrus fruits are strongly aromatic and following the tendency of that class of plants, promotes movement and flow in the body. They are especially good at moving stagnant energy centered in the digestive and/or nervous systems. It is common practice in many systems of traditional medicine to add a pinch or two of some kind of dried citrus peel to nearly every formula to enhance the actions of the other herbs and speed their effects.
Lemon or Orange peel is very useful in the treatment of intestinal cramps, sour stomach and many other digestive disorders. They are both effective carminatives and excellent at soothing nausea. For nausea accompanied by symptoms of heat (red tongue, flushing, irritability) try Peach leaf tea with a few pieces of Lemon peel thrown in. For nausea with symptoms of coldness (pale tongue, sensations of coldness, skin cool to the touch, overall weakness) try Ginger tea with pieces or Orange peel added. Both are delicious. Or you can make a simple tea of either of the fruits using the top layer of the peel. Easy and quick to put together, very pleasant tasting with or without honey and acts efficiently and well.
Citrus peels make an ideal addition to any bitters formula. A favorite recipe of mine is 2 parts Artemisia, 2 parts Sweet Flag (Calamus), 1 Part Juniper berry (or Fennel seed) and 1 part Orange peel. Bitters are fun to make, endlessly useful in both cooking and healing, and with so many variations possible, an exercise in creativity as well.
Orange and Lemon differ in temperature. Orange is warming, and more sweet in flavor while Lemon is cooling and tends more towards sourness. Both can be bitter if some of the white matter between the skin and fruit is peeled with the skin. Whether this is desirable depends on the situation. Orange’s warm nature makes it ideal for stimulating appetite and reducing bloating in those with digestive weakness while Lemon’s cooler temperature gives credence to its traditional use as a fever reducer, overall cooling agent and appetite suppressant. Lemon’s astringency and anti-inflammatory properties effectively treat a sore throat as diluted juice or as some peel added to hot water to make a tea, and is especially if helpful with the addition of some Sage and Rose and teaspoon of honey.
Either citrus peel can be helpful when working with stagnant depression, grief, sadness or even anxiety. The aromatic nature of the herb helps release obstructions in the body and allows the emotional current continue through its natural cycle instead of getting stuck in a blocked off place.
Citrus peels are packed with bioflavonoids and excel at strengthening and supporting the vascular system. A wonderful, tasty way of ingesting a dense portion of bioflavonoid rich nutrition is to make a bowl of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries etc), add a few generous pinches of chopped, grated citrus peel and some shavings from a dark chocolate bar (preferably 70% or more cocoa, raw cacao nibs are also great) before drizzling with coconut milk or heavy cream. Rosehip or Rose petal infused honey is another delicious addition, or ground rosehips sprinkled on top. All sorts of lovely variations are possible to make this treat even more colorful and healing.
Lemon slices preserved in salt are a wonderful addition to many dishes, especially those of Mediterranean or Indian origin. They stimulate digestion, provide a good dose of bioflavonoids and perhaps best of all, add an amazing burst of flavor and intensity to the food.