Ellen Levy Finch/Creative Commons

During the winter months the stores are filled with different varieties of yummy oranges, tangerines and other citrus fruits, so I thought I would tell you about a delightful winter pick-me-up oil-- sweet orange essence.

The orange tree produces three different types of essential oil; from the leaves and stems the oil ‘petitgrain’ is distilled, from the orange blossoms ‘neroli’ is extracted and from the skins of the fruit we get ‘orange’ oil. Each oil has a totally unique smell and differing therapeutic qualities. There are also two separate genuses of tree that produce oils - bitter orange (citrus aurantium) and sweet orange (citrus sinensis). Of these the most popular and widely used is sweet orange. The oil of sweet orange is found in sacks along the outer skin and is extracted by cold pressing. The watery mixture that is emitted is then either steam distilled or spun in a centrifuge to separate the essential oil out. This essential oil is high in vitamin C and carotene and has many therapeutic qualities. The orange tree was indigenous to China and was brought over by Portuguese sailors to Europe in the 12th C. Now the finest orange essential oil is produced in Sicily, though good quality oil also comes from Tunisia, France and the USA.

Orange essence gives us a feeling of warmth and happiness. It is can lift our spirits and help us to feel relaxed and balanced. Therapeutically it is considered a heart tonic and aids in reducing palpitations, cardiac spasms and irregular heart beat. Because it strengthens the heart chakra, orange oil can dispel tension and worry, and relinquish self-consciousness. Fear can cause a tightening of the heart muscle, and the orange’s ability to lighten the mood and dispel fears helps the heart to relax. It creates a positive and joyful harmony to the body and mind and opens us up to a love of humanity.

Orange essential oil is also a wonderful skin additive to creams and lotions and also can be applied neat to the skin. It is excellent for cellulite, dry skin and acne. It has a rejuvenating quality that stimulates the circulation of blood to the skin so it is great for aging skin or wrinkles.It also stimulates lymph fluids and can help reduce edema and swollen tissues. Orange is found In many deodorants because of its antibacterial properties. As a diuretic, orange supports the kidneys and bladder (in Chinese medicine the kindey and bladder meridians govern winter so this is a perfect oil for this season) and helps cleanse the system.

Burning orange essential oil in an aroma lamp can also cleanse the environment of odors from smoke and clear the room of allergy causing pollens as well as viruses and bacteria.

Because it is such an uplifting oil, orange awakens creativity and enhances the spiritual aspects of life. Especially in the cold darkness of winter, orange essential oil can be of great benefit in creating a light and joyful atmosphere. Sometimes in winter it feels as if we have forgotten how to laugh and be jovial, and orange can take us right out of our over-serious attitudes and glum sense of withdrawal. Yes, winter is a time to energetically crawl into our caves to hibernate, but no one said we had to be miserable while we did it. So burn a little orange in the background and enjoy the winter season.