Seasonal Aromatic Favourites – Sweet Orange

In my last blog post I touched on some of the aromas that help make our festive season. I would like to explore each in more detail looking not just at the physical uses but also mental, emotional and spiritual uses of the aromas and essential oils and how they can benefit us energetically.

Sweet Orange – Citrus sinensis (Citrus aurantium var dulcis)

Family: Rutaceae

Native: Originally native to China but extensively cultivated in America and around the Mediterranean. This is an evergreen tree that is smaller than the Bitter Orange variety but less hardy and with fewer or no spines. The fruit has a sweet pulp and usually eleven segments with non-bitter membranes.  There are numerous cultivated varieties and subspecies.

Oranges are small flowering trees about 10 m tall with oval leaves that are wavy at the edges and 4–10 cm long.

If you hold an orange leaf up to the light you can see many dots which are actually glands containing aromatic oils. Orange flowers grow singly or in clusters of up to six, are white and very fragrant. Oranges are round, and their size and color may vary. The pigments in the skin of the fruit are sensitive to temperature, in areas where ambient temperature does not get cooler than a specific temperature (as in Hawaii) fruits will appear to be green or blotchy. The fruit (called a hesperidium) always contains eleven segments, and may or may not have hard white seeds.

(Economic Botany: Plants in our World; Simpson, BB; Ogorzaly, MC; 1995, New York : McGraw-Hill (2nd edition).)

Literature, folklore and interesting facts:   Some believe that the “golden apple” given to Hera when she married Zeus in Greek was actually an orange. We get the fruit classification “hesperidium” from “Hesperides” the name of the garden where Hera planted the seeds.  The English color word “orange” derives from the Arabic name for the plant, which itself derives from the Tamil word “orang” meaning six and five (implying the eleven segments of the fruit).  A number of small studies have shown Orange essential oil my be helpful in managing anxiety and the use of D-Limonene (a major constituent of citrus oils) in breast cancer is being studied.

Extraction: Usually by cold expression from the peel of the fruit although a steam distilled oil may occasionally be available. This is however generally considered inferior. Cold expression tends to produce a yellowy-orange or dark orange mobile liquid with a sweet, fresh, fruity scent.

Herbal uses:  Oranges are considered very nutritious and contain vitamins A, B and C. The dried sweet orange peel in used in Chinese medicine to treat coughs, colds, anorexia and malignant breast sores. All types of citrus fruit are considered cooling and eaten in excess are believed to cause an increase in “phlegm”.

Actions:  Antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bactericidal, carminative, choleretic, digesitive, fungicidal, hypotensive, sedative (nervous), stimulant (digestive and lymphatic), stomachic, tonic.

Chemical Composition: Over 90% monoterpenes, predominantly limonene. The cold expressed oil generally also contains bergapten, auraptenol and acids.

Aromatherapy uses: May be useful for dull and oil complexions and managing mouth ulcers. May also be helpful in weight management, water retention, chills, digestive disorders, colds, flu, nervous tension and stress related conditions. There is evidence that orange oil is useful in managing anxiety.

Blending: An oil that blends fairly easily and well with many others including lavender, neroli, lemon and other citrus oils, clary sage, myrrh, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, ginger, rosemary and thyme.

Contraindications:Generally non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. Limonene has been found to cause skin irritation in susceptible individuals and as such needs to be listed separately on cosmetic products as a potential allergen. The distilled oil is phototoxic.

Energetic and spiritual uses:  Generally Sweet Orange oil radiates Orange colour and light which links it to the Sacral Chakra or energy centre. I find it also contains a degree of blue light  (its complementary colour) linking it to the Throat Chakra. These two energy centres support our creativity and expression of creativity. Supporting these areas allows up to express ourselves in expansive joy. Loughran and Bull comment that the energy of Orange oil is epitomised in the Dalai Lama’s radiant joy and infectious giggle, inspiring those who meet him through his strength, compassion, serenity and faith despite his experiences.  Orange oil can teach us this joy that is a positive, courageous, creative force in our life that helps us become more confident and loving. Valerie Worwood gives the character of Orange as “Warming, Happy, Resolute and Energizing” that can be used to counteract negative attributes such as depression, hopelessness, sadness, apathy, self-consciousness, anxiety, worry, obsession, addiction and burn-out making room for the positive attributes of joy, upliftment, balance, lightheartedness, regeneration, strength, creativity, self-confidence, sympathy and courage.

Suzy Chiazzari describes Orange essential oil as grounding, stimulating and releasing. This fits beautifully with its ability to lift the spirits. Orange can boost the immune system physically and act as a tonic to the body. There is growing evidence that joy and happiness also strengthen the immune system.

Magical uses:  Correspondences are generally given as Masculine, Sun and either Air or Fire. The Astrological correspondences are given as Leo as Primary and Aquarius, Gemini and Libra as Secondary. Cunningham suggests this fragrance is useful for self-purification; for transforming depression into peace or even joy and for producing an increase in bioelectrical energy when needed for both mundane and magical workings.

In Summary:

Orange is a fabulous oil to increase joy, energy and boost our body, mind and emotions. It supports creativity, self-confidence and self-expression. It is light in the darkness, sometimes even a glowing beacon. Orange is warmth, energy, passion, tempered with groundedness and balanced by peace and contentment. At the Winter Solstice/Christmas we are in the darkest part of the year awaiting the return of the light. Orange provides us with an inner spark and the hope for the coming cycle.  Orange is the sparkle in eyes lit up by a smile, an infectious giggle, peace and contentment, inner gold.


The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils – Julia Lawless.

The Fragrant Mind – Valerie Worwood

The Fragrant Pharmacy – Valerie Worwood


Colour Scents – Suzy Chiazzari

Magical Aromatherapy – Scott Cunningham

A Wiccan Formulary and Herbal – A.J. Drew

Wishing you a very happy and blessed 2014



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