Eating foods rich in vitamin C can help prevent anemia—an inadequate level of iron in your body. While oranges on their own aren’t a good source of iron, they act like a key that unlocks your body’s ability to absorb iron from iron-rich foods such as spinach.
Immune system health
The high levels of vitamin C in oranges are good for helping to boost the immune system. Many other compounds in oranges have anti-inflammatory properties.
The calcium in oranges contributes to long-term bone health. It also supports the health of muscles and organs.
Oranges and other citrus fruits may help reduce the risk of some cancers. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help fight the formation of free radicals that cause cancer.
Aromatherapy for anxiety and pain relief
Studies show sweet orange oil can help reduce anxiety in children who have to have a tooth pulled. Another study showed that patients with broken bones experienced improved pain relief when they had orange oil aromatherapy in conjunction with conventional pain relief measures.
A simple home approach to orange aromatherapy is to simmer orange peels in a pot of water. You’ll appreciate the clean, fresh fragrance as it fills the kitchen.
Orange peel does more than smell good; it can also aid in digestion. The D-limonene in orange peel can help neutralize gastric acid, making it a natural heartburn helper. You can add powdered or fresh orange peel in your daily diet, either mixing it with something like yogurt or incorporating it into soups, cookies, ice cream—even coffee! Just make sure you use organic oranges to get the peel, or wash conventionally grown oranges thoroughly with soap and warm water to remove any pesticide residue.
The essential oil of the bergamot orange may smell familiar to you; it’s a key ingredient in flavoring Earl Grey tea. Named after the Italian city of Bergamo, where the essential oil was first sold, the oil is processed from the skin of almost-ripened oranges. Italian traditional medical practitioners use bergamot oil to treat fever and worms.
Researchers have found that the essential oil that makes tea time such a treat can also work as an analgesic, antiseptic, astringent, and expectorant. Recent studies show bergamot may also help reduce cholesterol.
Don’t confuse bergamot orange essential oil with bee balm (Monarda didyma, Lamiaceae), which is also called bergamot. Monarda essential oil can make you sensitive to the sun.
Beware some bitter orange uses
Bitter orange is a different species than sweet orange. Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) has long been used in traditional medicine in Italy and China to treat anxiety, indigestion, nausea, and constipation. Many weight loss and bodybuilding supplements containing bitter orange are on the market.
However, a naturally-occurring component in bitter orange (also called Seville orange, sour orange, or zhi shi) is p-synephrine, which has a molecular makeup similar to ephedrine, the main component in the herb ephedra, which the FDA banned because it raises blood pressure and has been connected to heart attacks and strokes. The components in bitter orange extract, combined with caffeine, could also present a risk of heart attack or stroke. The NCAA has put bitter orange on its list of banned drugs, labeling it a stimulant. There are, of course, other studies that indicate bitter orange extracts do not present a health risk. Speak with your doctor before using any herbal supplement; something effective for one person could prove disastrous for another.
Those precautions aside, there are cultivars of sour orange that make the best marmalade in the world; a lot of sour oranges are exported to England and Scotland for making marmalade. South Africa uses its sour oranges for marmalade production as well. Other sour orange varieties are prized for their flower buds to make tea. The bergamot orange is a variety of Citrus aurentium and is what gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor. Bitter orange oil expressed from the peel (rather than distilled) is used as a flavoring in products from ice cream to liqueurs and pharmaceuticals.
A fresher fridge, a less stinky sink
We all know the standard freshen-up-the-fridge trick of leaving a box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors. It’s a good approach, but not the only one.
Take a hollowed-out orange half, fill it with salt, and tuck in a back shelf in the fridge. The salt will absorb moisture, and the orange rind will release its fragrant scent in the fridge. It’s a win-win!
If you have a garbage disposal and your sink could use a little de-stinking, toss some orange peels in the next time you run the disposal. The oils in the orange peel are natural grease cutters and can help de-gunk the drain while leaving it smelling fresh.
Wood you like a cleaner table?
Save your orange peel for a homemade wood surface cleaner. Put leftover orange peels into a mason jar and cover them with white vinegar. Let the mixture steep in a cool, dark spot for at least two weeks to let the peels release all their oil. Then remove the peels, put the mixture into a spray bottle, and use to clean wood surfaces in your home. Bonus: they’ll smell great!
Put the sparkle back in your stainless steel or clean your cast iron
Before you compost your orange peel—or put it in a jar to prepare your next natural wood cleaning spray—rub the peel on clean stainless steel surfaces to remove stains. You can also sprinkle salt on the raw edge of an orange cut in half and use it to scrub your cast iron clean.
A treat for your tresses
The vitamin C in oranges is great for your immune system, and it’s good for your hair, too! Make an east orange peel hair conditioner by putting a whole clean orange into the blender—peel and all—until it reaches a creamy consistency. Use it as a conditioner for your hair.
Brown sugar breakup
We’ve all had that annoying problem of the brown sugar drying out to a rock-hard clump. Some people use a wedge of apple to help maintain the moisture, but you can use a few orange peels to accomplish the same thing. Recycling at its best!
An aid for what’s bugging you
The D-limonene in orange peel is something that mosquitoes find offensive, even toxic. For a little natural pest repellent, scatter orange peel around your yard. If you’d rather skip the DEET, you can try rubbing some orange peel on your skin to see if it helps repel mosquitoes for you.
Did you know that oranges are so healthful? Did you know about the potential hazard of bitter orange? What about the household uses? Please tell us how you use oranges.