Native to Asia, the mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is the sweetest of the citrus fruits. Smaller in size and thinner-skinned than navel or blood oranges, they are harvested en mass in November and shipped westward by the boxful, just in time for Christmas. An important symbol during Chinese New Year, mandarins represent abundance and happiness.
The essential oil of mandarin is mild, sweet, and calming. Cold pressed from the peel, mandarin oil is composed of d-Limonene, gamma-Terpinene, alpha and beta Pinene, and Myrcene. These active constituents carry many benefits for good health:
1. Calming Effects
Mandarin oil has been traditionally used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to calm the mind, relax the body, and induce sleepiness. In modern studies of its efficacy, mandarin oil aromatherapy has been found to possess sedative and anti-anxiety properties in tests on animals.
In experiments that were designed to mimic generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, mandarin oil helped to calm the rodents’ expressions of anxiety. Inhalation of mandarin oil also significantly increased sleep duration.
2. Relief from Pain and Nausea
After inhaling one or a combination of these oils, patients reported improvements in pain, nausea, and anxiety. Of the three oils, mandarin in particular stood out due to its ability to provide strong post-operative pain relief, earning a higher grade than ginger, a well-regarded analgesic. In addition to its anxiety relieving properties, mandarin oil proved very effective as a treatment for nausea as well.
A valuable source of antioxidants, mandarin oil was shown to neutralize free radical scavengers that damage cells in the body. Working just as effectively as vitamin C, mandarin oil is a natural remedy against age-related disease as well as the outward signs of aging. And unlike other citrus oils, mandarin oil is not phototoxic so it is safe to use on the skin before exposure to sunlight.
The principal component of mandarin oil is d-Limonene, making up around 75% of its chemical composition. D-Limonene carries many health benefits, not least of which is its potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Chronic inflammation is regarded by researchers as the potential cause of aging itself. When we are young, inflammatory molecules are a response to infection or trauma, sent to areas of the body to repair tissue and destroy pathogens. As we get older, this pro-inflammatory response can damage tissues and organs, change DNA structures, and increase oxidative stress in the process, leaving us open to acquiring a variety of disparate conditions like cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular disease.
Pitting d-Limonene against several pro-inflammatory cytokines, researchers found that it inhibited the expression of several proteins and enzymes associated with chronic inflammation, including COX-2, TNF alpha, iNOS, interleukin 1 beta and interleukin 6.
Thanks to its high d-Limonene content, mandarin oil has proved effective in preventing the growth and spread of cancer. In an in vitro experiment on two human tumour cell lines (lung and liver cancers), mandarin essential oil had an antiproliferative effect on both types of cancer. Surprisingly, mandarin oil exerted a stronger anti-tumour effect than d-Limonene alone.
The anti-cancer properties of d-Limonene has had impressive results against other kinds of carcinomas including breast cancer and stomach cancer. In terms of post-cancer treatments, d-Limonene helped increase the survival rates of lymphoma in an animal study published in 2004.
The CDC estimates that every year 48 million people in the US get sick from foodborne illnesses. Of these, 128,000 end up in the hospital and 3,000 die due to eating contaminated foods.
Several studies have examined mandarin oil as a natural food preservative against pathogens, bacteria, and fungi.
In one study, green beans contaminated with Listeria innocua were given a one-time coating of mandarin oil at a 2% dilution as its main antimicrobial agent in combination with other non-thermal treatments. Without impacting food quality, texture, taste, and nutritional values, mandarin oil immediately reduced L. innocua populations and continued to inhibit bacterial growth over a 15-day period of refrigeration.
Another study investigated the effect of citrus oils on molds associated with food spoilage – Aspergillus niger (black mold), the toxic Aspergillus flavus and Penicillium verrucosum, as well as Penicillium chrysogenum which hastens spoilage. Testing mandarin, lemon, grapefruit, and orange essential oils, researchers found that each citrus oil was effective against these molds. Mandarin oil, in particular, was most antifungal with A. flavus – a type of mold that produces dangerous alfatoxin, a potent carcinogen.
9 Ways to Use Mandarin Essential Oil
Although mandarin and tangerine essential oil are often used interchangeably since they are so closely related, be sure to use the essential oil of Citrus reticulata – and not Citrus tangerina – to achieve these wonderful benefits:
Instant Mood Booster – Apply one or two drops into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, and inhale deeply.
Anti-Aging Skin Treatment – Dilute 12 drops of mandarin oil with one ounce of your favorite carrier oil to help combat wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
All-Purpose Household Cleaner – In a large spray bottle, add 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 30 drops of mandarin oil.
Fruity Perfume – Mandarin oil blends well with other citrus scents as well as floral, wood, spice, and herbal aromas. Try mixing 3 drops of mandarin oil with 3 drops of neroli and 2 drops of cedarwood.
Linen Spray – Another way to encourage a good night’s sleep, spritz your pillows and linens with this mix: 1 cup of distilled water, 1 tablespoon of witch hazel, and 25 drops of mandarin oil.
Massage Blend – Relax your body and mind with this natural massage oil: 2 drops of mandarin, 14 drops of lavender, 7 drops of valerian, 4 drops of sandalwood, 3 drops of Chinese rose, and a ½ cup of grapeseed oil.
Where To Buy Mandarin Oil
Plant Therapy are our recommend suppliers of essential oils for their high quality, 100% pure oils free of additives and adulterants. You can purchase their Organic Mandarin Essential Oil from this page on their official website.