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Orange Oil

Believed to be native to southwestern China, the sweet orange, or Citrus sinenses, is smaller than its botanical cousin, the bitter orange. About 500 years ago the fruit was introduced to Europe and the Americas where it's now widely cultivated.

Like all citrus oils, sweet orange essential oil is cold-pressed from the fresh peels of the raw fruit.

Traditional Herbal Uses

Herbalists in China used dried orange peels to treat respiratory ailments like coughs and other cold symptoms. Modern herbalists consider it a lymphatic stimulant.

As a digestive aid, sweet orange has a reputation for improving bile and increasing the metabolism of fats. Herbalists also claim that it has a calming effect on the digestive tract and can help alleviate excess gas.

Sweet orange oil is widely used in the food industry where it flavors a variety of foods. Interestingly, it's also used, albeit through a lengthy chemical process, to create a synthetic version of spearmint.

Sweet orange also has a stellar reputation as a children's oil. A study cited in the Aromatherapy Database claims that children who were exposed to the scent of sweet orange during dental extractions were more relaxed and cooperative during their procedures. Whether it provides any physical benefit or not, there's certainly no doubt that the fun, uplifting scent makes it a great oil to diffuse in a play room.

In skin care, sweet orange is reputed to be soothing and drying to oily or blemish-prone skin. The antioxidant properties of essential oils are believed to have regenerative properties.

In Chinese medicine, orange oil is believed to increase circulation of Qi and stimulate digestion.

Aromatherapy Uses

Sweet orange has a happy, uplifting scent that fills the nose with a moist, cool sensation. It brings to mind images of bright sunny days.

Sweet orange is an oil that's particularly popular with children. It's hard to stay angry or sad in the presence of such a fun, fresh scent. It's a wonderful oil to diffuse while children are playing.

Aromatherapists generally regard sweet orange as warm and joyful. They believe that it reduces self-doubt and empowers one to face new situations and challenges. They also believe it brings a sense of optimism and hope.

Blending With Other Essential Oils

Sweet orange blends with other citrus oils, floral oils like jasmine or ylang ylang and woody oils like frankincense or sandalwood. It also blends nicely with herbaceous oils like geranium, clary sage and rosemary.

Sweet orange is considered a top-note.

Safety & Warnings

Sweet orange is generally considered safe although there are some concerns about citrus oils being phototoxic. Some authors advise against using any citrus oils on the skin; others feel that sweet orange is perfectly safe.

Lisa Barger is a traditional naturopath specializing in natural health education. Learn more about aromatherapy by taking a free online class at her website,