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Dried Tangerine Peel

Close up of dried tangerine peels 陈皮

What is Dried Tangerine Peel?

Dried Tangerine Peel (chen pi, 陈皮) comes from tangerines, the second-largest cultivated citrus fruit after oranges, also known as Mandarin Oranges. Just like oranges, tangerines are orange in colour, though some varieties may come with shades of green or red. However, tangerines are slightly smaller, less round and easier to peel by hand as compared to oranges.

According to a common saying in China’s Southern Guangdong province, aged Dried Tangerine Peels are as precious as nuggets of gold. To prepare Dried Tangerine Peel, the peels are usually dried under the Sun before going through at least three years of storage.

While the sun dried Tangerine Peels mature, the essential oils in the citrus peels begin to dissipate, and will eventually penetrate its entire surface, which then releases a mellow scent. In the Compendium of Materia Medica (ben cao gang mu, 本草纲目), it is said that Dried Tangerine Peels can “cure a hundred illnesses” and has the ability to relieve Body Heat and Dampness. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Dried Tangerine Peels fall under the category of ‘Herbs that regulate qi”. This herb can treat Qi Stagnation, which may cause psychological symptoms such as depression, irritability and mood swings if left untreated. 

Warm in nature, Dried Tangerine Peels can help individuals who are experiencing too much ‘Cold’ in their body, such as those who have Yin Excess or Yang Deficiency in their body, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance.

Bitter and pungent, Dried Tangerine Peels can cleanse the human body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, this herb can promote the circulations of qi and body fluid. In particular, this herb targets the Lungs and the Spleen.

Tangerine peel on a wooden surface
The drying process of tangerine peel releases flavonoids.

Functions and Benefits of Dried Tangerine Peels

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Dried Tangerine Peels have the following benefits.

Firstly, Dried Tangerine Peels can promote movement of qi in the Spleen and the stomach to resolve Qi Stagnation in these two meridians. The herb can also stop the adverse rise of qi to arrest vomiting, dry Dampness, and invigorate the Spleen. Thus, Dry Tangerine Peels are suitable to relieve indigestion, nausea and vomiting caused by Qi Stagnation. Some other symptoms that this herb can help to tackle include hiccups, gastric pain, abdominal distension, stuffiness, fullness, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and pain.

Secondly, Dried Tangerine Peels can dry Dampness and disperse Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Hence, this herb can be used to resolve coughs caused by Damp-Phlegm or Cold-Phlegm.

Other than the above Dried Tangerine Peel benefits, these peels also have quite a number of beauty benefits. For example, it can help to fight acne by using its Vitamin C and antibacterial properties to kill bacteria. The herb also serves as an active skin toner, promotes collagen synthesis, and helps to slow down the ageing process with Vitamin C and antioxidants.

As Dried Tangerine Peels are high in antioxidants, this herb can protect our body by neutralizing the damaging effects of oxidative stress, which is caused by the accumulation of free radicals. Thus, this helps to prevent chronic conditions such as heart diseases, arthritis and cancer.

Dried Tangerine Peels can also help to protect the immune system, support brain health by protecting against chronic brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, and aid weight loss by increasing one’s daily fibre intake.

How to Use Dried Tangerine Peels

Whole Dried Tangerine Peels are readily available in most herbal stores, markets and even some supermarkets. Health stores also sell products made from Dried Tangerine Peels, such as Citrus Peel powder, capsules, herbal tea or supplements.

Dried Tangerine Peels can be consumed directly or it can be added to your meals to add flavour. It is also added in mooncakes. The Dried Tangerine Peels Pu’Erh Tea is a great choice to drink during cold weather and it soothes the throat too. 

The typical dosage of Dried Tangerine Peels is 3-10g.

Dried Tangerine Peels can also be used to make DIY products. For example, you can immerse the peels of two Tangerines in warm water, leave it overnight, shake it in the next morning, throw out the Dried Tangerine Peels, and you will get a bottle of very effective toner. 

Chen pi tea (Orange peel tea)
Brew a cup of dried tangerine peel (chen pi, 陈皮) tea to strengthen your digestive health.

Cautions and Side Effects of Dried Tangerine Peels

Dried Tangerine Peels should not be used when the individual is experiencing dry cough caused by Yin Deficiency. This could manifest as coughing blood as well. Also, this herb should be used with caution in cases of dry, excess Heat and sticky, yellow Phlegm.

Other than the above precautions, Dried Tangerine Peels are considered relatively safe, especially for long-term use. The American Herbal Products Association has given Dried Tangerine Peels a Class 1 rating, which means that it can be safely consumed when used appropriately.

Also, as of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with Dried Tangerine Peels. Of course, to be safe, it is always best practice to consult your healthcare provider before you decide to add Dried Tangerine Peels into your diet!


Here is a summary for Dried Tangerine Peels:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 陈皮
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): chén pí
  • Herb name (English): Dried Tangerine Peel
  • Herb name (Botanical): Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae
  • Origin of species: Citrus reticulata Blanco
  • Part(s) of herb used: Pericarp
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Fujian, Sichuan, Zhejiang, Jiangxi
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter, pungent; Warm; Administrates the Spleen and Lung meridians
  • Actions: Regulates circulation of bodily fluids for digestive functions; Strengthens physiological functions of the Spleen; Removes phlegm.

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