9 Evidence-Based Medicinal Properties of Oranges
by Sayer Ji
The orange is both a literal and symbolic embodiment of the sun, from whose light it is formed. As a whole food it irradiates us with a spectrum of healing properties, the most prominent of which some call “vitamin C activity,” but which is not reducible to the chemical skeleton known as ‘ascorbic acid.’ Science now confirms the orange has a broad range of medicinal properties, which is why the ancients knew it both as a food and a medicine.
It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician. — Meryl Streep
As our increasingly overdiagnosed and overmedicated population leaps lemming-like over the cliff of conventional medicine, with most drugs carrying a dozen or more adverse side effects for every benefit advertised, we can find great wisdom in Meryl Streep’s quote.
Indeed, many common fruits and vegetables “crouching” at the local produce stand have “hidden healing powers,” and have been used as both medicines and nourishing foods since time immemorial.
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I firmly believe that access to fresh, organic produce is as vital a health necessity as access to water, and clean air. Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, the bodies of our ancestors (whose genes became ours) co-evolved with higher, flowering and fruiting plants, and the tens of thousands of phytocompounds they contain, many of which now regulate and maintain the expression and health of our genes. Therefore, without the regular consumption of these foods, suboptimal health, and likely many diseases, is inevitable. One could rightly say that chemotherapy and radiotherapy were invented mainly to treat fruit and vegetable deficiency, but of course providing a solution far worse than the disease, and certainly eternally incapable of addressing the root causes of cancer.
Orange is one such food-medicine marvel, containing a broad range of compounds increasingly being recognized to be essential for human health. We consider it a sweet treat, its juice a refreshing beverage, but do we ever really reflect on its medicinal properties? GreenMedInfo.com has indexed no less than 37 distinct health benefits its use may confer, all of which can be explored on our Orange Medicinal Properties research page. What follows are some of its most well-established therapeutic applications, divided into three parts: the juice, the peel and the aroma:
The Juice of the Orange
Many of us mistakenly look to orange juice today as a dangerous source of highly concentrated fructose – simple “carbs” – without recognizing its profound medicinal properties. We sometimes think we can get the vitamin C activity oranges contain through the semi-synthetic ‘nutrient’ ascorbic acid, without realizing that an orange embodies (as do all whole foods) a complex orchestra of chemistries, the handiwork of millions of years of evolution, which is to say a process of intelligent biological design.
The ‘monochemical nutrient’ – ascorbic acid – is merely a shadow of the vitamin C activity that is carried and expressed through only living foods. The orange, after all, looks like a miniature sun, is formed as a condensation of energy and information from sunlight, and therefore is capable of storing and after being eaten irradiating us with life-giving packets of information-dense gene-regulating nutrition, by a mechanism that will never be fully reducible to or intelligible by the chemical skeleton we know of as ascorbic acid.
Given that thought, here are some of the evidence-based benefits of orange juice:
- Orange Juice Improves “Good” Cholesterol: While it is debatable that lowering so-called “LDL” cholesterol is nearly as good for heart health as statin drug manufacturers would like for us to believe, raising “HDL” cholesterol does seem to have real health benefits. This is, however, quite hard to do with diet and nutrition, and impossible through medication. Other than taking high-dose fish oil, few things have been studied to be effective. Except, that is, orange juice. A 2000 study found that the consumption of 750 mL of orange juice a day, over a 4 weeks, improved blood lipid profiles by decreasing the LDL-HDL cholesterol ratio by 16% in patients with elevated cholesterol.
- Orange Juice Boosts Bone Health: A 2006 animal study in male rats found that orange juice positively influenced antioxidant status and bone strength.
- Orange Juice (mixed with Blackcurrant Juice) Reduces Inflammation: A 2009 study in patients with peripheral artery disease found that orange and blackcurrant juice reduced C-reactive protein (11%) and fibrinogen levels (3%), two concrete measures of systemic inflammation. A 2010 study found that Orange juice neutralizes the proinflammatory effect of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal and prevents endotoxin induced toxicity.
- Orange Juice Boosts Weight Loss: A 2011 study found that children who regularly drank orange juice consumed an average of 523 calories a day more than children who did not drink orange juice regularly. Yet surprisingly, there was no difference in the weight levels between the orange juice consumers and the non-orange juice consumers.
- Orange Juice May Dissolve Kidney Stones: A 2006 study found that orange juice consumption was associated with lower calculated calcium oxalate supersaturation and lower calculated undissociated uric acid, two indices of lowered urinary calcium stone formation.
- Orange Juice Extract Suppresses Prostate Proliferation: Despite the fructose content, a 2006 study found a standardized extract of red orange juice inhibited the proliferation of human prostate cells in vitro.
The Peel of the Orange
The peel of the orange contains a broad range of potent, potentially therapeutic compounds. These include pectin and flavonoid constituents, such as hersperiden, naringin, polymethoxyflavones, quercetin and rutin, various carotenoids, and a major odor constituent known as d-limonene, which makes up 90% of the citrus peel oil content, and is a compound that gets its name from the rind of the lemon, which contains a significant quantity of it. It is listed in the US Code of Federal Regulations as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and is commonly used as a flavoring agent. D-limonene has been studied to have potent anti-cancer properties, including against metastatic melanoma.
The whole peel extract has been studied to have a wide range of benefits:
- Orange Peel exhibits Anti-Arthritic Properties: A 2010 study found that orange peel extract significant suppressed vaccine adjuvant-induced arthritis in a preclinical model.
- Orange Peel (Flavonoids) Exhibit Anti-Cancer Properties: A 2007 study found that orange peel extract inhibited tumorigenesis in a preclinical mouse model of adenomatous polyposis and increases programmed cell death.[i] Two additional 2007studies found that orange peel extract has anti-breast cancer properties. The first, by exhibiting chemopreventive properties against mammary tumor lesions in an animal model. The second, by inhibiting breast cancer cell lines in vitro. Additionally, a 2000 study found that flavanone intake is inversely associated with esophageal cancer risk and may account, with vitamin C, for the protective effect of fruit, especially citrus fruit, on esophageal cancer.  Finally, a 2005 study found that carotenoids from orange may help to reverse multidrug resistance.
The Aroma of the Orange
The physiological mechanisms by which aromas may have therapeutic properties (aroma-therapy) are well-established. The small molecules that comprise the aroma of things, are capable of entering directly through the nostrils and into the olfactory lobe, thus enabling them to have profound affects on deep structures within our brain, and as a result our entire bodily and emotional infrastructure.
- Orange Scent Reduces Anxiety, Boosts Mood: A 2000 study found that the aroma of orange essential oil reduces anxiety, generates a more positive mood, and a higher level of calmness in women exposed to it in a dental office waiting room. This finding was confirmed again in a 2005 study, where ambient odors of reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment.
 E M Kurowska, J D Spence, J Jordan, S Wetmore, D J Freeman, L A Piché, P Serratore. HDL-cholesterol-raising effect of orange juice in subjects with hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Nov;72(5):1095-100. PMID: 11063434
 Farzad Deyhim, Kristy Garica, Erica Lopez, Julia Gonzalez, Sumiyo Ino, Michelle Garcia, Bhimanagouda S Patil. Citrus juice modulates bone strength in male senescent rat model of osteoporosis. Nutrition. 2006 May;22(5):559-63. Epub 2006 Feb 10. PMID: 16472977
 Christine Dalgård, Flemming Nielsen, Jason D Morrow, Henrik Enghusen-Poulsen, Torbjörn Jonung, Mogens Hørder, Moniek P M de Maat. Supplementation with orange and blackcurrant juice, but not vitamin E, improves inflammatory markers in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Br J Nutr. 2009 Jan;101(2):263-9. Epub 2008 May 28. PMID: 18507878
 Husam Ghanim, Chang Ling Sia, Manish Upadhyay, Mannish Upadhyay, Kelly Korzeniewski, Prabhakar Viswanathan, Sanaa Abuaysheh, Priya Mohanty, Paresh Dandona. Orange juice neutralizes the proinflammatory effect of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal and prevents endotoxin increase and Toll-like receptor expression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;91(4):940-9. Epub 2010 Mar 3. PMID: 20200256
 O’Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Rampersaud GC, Fulgoni VL 3rd. One hundred percent orange juice consumption is associated with better diet quality, improved nutrient adequacy, and no increased risk for overweight/obesity in children. Nutr Res. 2011 Sep;31(9):673-82.associated with better diet quality, improved nutrient adequacy, and no increased risk for overweight/obesity in children. Nutr Res. 2011 Sep;31(9):673-82.
 Clarita V Odvina. Comparative value of orange juice versus lemonade in reducing stone-forming risk. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Nov;1(6):1269-74. Epub 2006 Aug 30. PMID: 17699358
 Federica Vitali, Claudia Pennisi, Antonio Tomaino, Francesco Bonina, Anna De Pasquale, Antonella Saija, Beatrice Tita. Effect of a standardized extract of red orange juice on proliferation of human prostate cells in vitro. Fitoterapia. 2006 Apr;77(3):151-5. Epub 2006 Feb 23. PMID:16530345
 GreenMedInfo.com, D-Limenone’s Anti-Cancer Properties
 Gang Chen, Zhongyi Yin, Xuxu Zheng. [Effect and mechanism of total flavonoids of orange peel on rat adjuvant arthritis]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2010 May;35(10):1298-301. PMID:20707201
 Sadanori Abe, Kunhua Fan, Chi-Tang Ho, Geetha Ghai, Kan Yang. Chemopreventive effects of orange peel extract (OPE). II: OPE inhibits atypical hyperplastic lesions in rodent mammary gland. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):18-24. PMID: 17472462
 Igor N Sergeev, Chi-Tang Ho, Shiming Li, Julie Colby, Slavik Dushenkov. Apoptosis-inducing activity of hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones and polymethoxyflavones from orange peel in human breast cancer cells. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Dec;51(12):1478-84. PMID: 17979096
 Marta Rossi, Werner Garavello, Renato Talamini, Carlo La Vecchia, Silvia Franceschi, Pagona Lagiou, Paola Zambon, Luigino Dal Maso, Cristina Bosetti, Eva Negri. Flavonoids and risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Apr 10;160(7):1009-13. PMID:17192901
 J Lehrner, C Eckersberger, P Walla, G Pötsch, L Deecke. Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients. Physiol Behav. 2000 Oct 1-15;71(1-2):83-6. PMID: 11134689
 J Lehrner, G Marwinski, S Lehr, P Johren, L Deecke. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiol Behav. 2005 Sep 15;86(1-2):92-5. PMID: 16095639
[i] Kunhua Fan, Naoto Kurihara, Sadanori Abe, Chi-Tang Ho, Geetha Ghai, Kan Yang.Chemopreventive effects of orange peel extract (OPE). I: OPE inhibits intestinal tumor growth in ApcMin/+ mice. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):11-7. PMID: 17472461
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