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Herbs & Botanicals

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Citron (xiang yuan)

What is citron? What is it used for?

Citron fruit comes from two types of trees - medicinal citron and Wilson citron - which resemble small evergreen trees or shrubs. The tree grows to a height of between 10 and 11 feet, with irregular, spiny branches, and is in flower all year. In China, citron is produced mainly in the Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangxi provinces.

It produces an oval-shaped fruit with a thin, yellowish-green skin and a thick, fleshy inner section. The fruit is gathered in late September and October when it is ripe, cleaned, dried in the sun, and cut into pieces. The fruit is rich in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and other acids.

In traditional Chinese medicine, citron is considered to have pungent, slightly bitter, sour and warm properties, and is associated with the Liver, Spleen and Lung meridians. Its functions are to promote the free flow of qi in the liver, resolve phlegm, and harmonize the spleen and stomach. Citron treats epigastric and abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and belching, and is used to improve a poor appetite. It is often taken in conjunction with pinellia tuber, costus root and cyperus.

How much citron should I take?

The typical dose of citron is between three and 10 grams, decocted in water for use as a tea.

What forms of citron are available?

Dried citron can be found at some Asian markets and herbal shops. Fresh citron can also be found at some specialty stores.

What can happen if I take too much citron? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Essential oils taken from the skin of citron fruit have a rubefacient factor, and may cause redness of the skin in sensitive individuals. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with citron. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking citron or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

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