Tangerine – Properties and medicinal uses


Endowed with many health benefits, tangerine is among the most popular citrus in the world. It is used to fight infections, heal wounds, aid digestion, boost immunity, and lower cholesterol. These therapeutic applications are mostly due to its antiseptic, depurative, sedative, stomachic, and antispasmodic properties.

Tangerine is the fruit of the tangerine tree, Citrus reticulata, which belongs to the botanical family Rutaceae. It is very similar to the orange tree. The main difference between the two is that, the tangerine tree is smaller and more fragile. There are many varieties of tangerine, each with different taste and sweetness. The two best-known varieties are Satsuma (which is greenish or light orange in color), and Clementine (which is smaller, deep orange in color and much more sweeter).

Tangerines are being grown in some parts of North America, Southern Europe, and North Africa since the nineteenth century when they arrived from China.


Tangerines are smaller and less rounded than oranges. Due to the sweetness, tender pulp and low acidity of tangerine, it is considered as one of the most popular citrus in the world. Moreover, tangerines are so easy to peel; reason why most children choose it to be their favorite fruit. Generally, tangerines are mostly peeled and eaten directly without the use of any cutlery.

Apart from eating tangerines directly, many others use them in desserts, salads, and several dishes. Their pulp can be squeezed to make tangerine juices, which are commonly available in the United States. Their peel can be used fresh or dried to make a spice, or as a zest to add flavor to baking and drinks. Also, its peel can be compressed to extract tangerine essential oil, which has a lot of medicinal properties. The essential oil contains compounds such as limonene, citronellal, camphene, beta pinene, and terpineol.



  • Tangerines contain carbohydrates in about 13% of their weight.
  • They also contain significant amounts of dietary fiber at about 1.8% of their total content.
  • They contain very little amounts of fats and proteins, both in an amount less than 1.5% of their content.
  • In terms of vitamins, tangerines are chiefly rich in vitamin C, providing up to 32% of the daily recommended intake per 100 grams serving. Other vitamins contained in significant amounts include vitamin A, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folates.
  • Tangerines are not that rich in minerals. But they contain reasonable amounts of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

The tangerine’s properties or composition is very similar to that of the orange. But almost all the contents are found in lower proportions than in orange. As a result of the similarity between oranges and tangerines, they show the following properties :

  • Fight infections
  • Acts as a laxative
  • Acts as a depurant
  • Make the blood more fluidy
  • Are remineralizing
  • Are hypotensive
  • Are antiallergenic
  • Anticarcinogenic


8 health benefits and medicinal uses of tangerine
  • Fights childhood fever
  • Fights colds and flu
  • Prevents cancer
  • Heals wounds
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Aids digestion
  • Treats sepsis
  • Purifies the blood



  • Childhood fever

Tangerines are able to treat childhood fevers due to their ability to fight infection, replace lost minerals and give the body more strength. Fevers are signs that your body is under intense activity to overcome infections.

With the consumption of tangerine, you can boost your body’s defense mechanism, and in the process relieving fever.

  • Colds and flu

Well, this is due to tangerine’s infection fighting ability. The vitamin C in this fruit acts to stimulate the production of more white blood cells, which are responsible for protecting the body against invading foreign microorganisms that can cause diseases. Cold and flu are typical examples of diseases causes by viruses.

By consuming tangerine, you reinforce the defense system of your body against these viruses.

  • Cancer

All citrus fruits are said to act in one way or the other in preventing cancer. They possess anticarcinogenic properties, and when eaten regularly, they can help fight cancer-causing agents. The anticarcinogenic effect of these citrus has been confirmed by numerous researches. 

Recently, a team of researchers conducted a research at Leicester School of Pharmacy. They found a compound in tangerine peel known as Salvestrol to kill certain types of human cancer cell.

Moreover, tangerines are full of antioxidants such as vitamin C, which acts to prevent cancer by fighting the activities of free radicals, whose interaction with body cells can cause cancerous growths.

  • Heal wounds

You are probably one of those that take vitamin C supplements to speed up the healing of your wounds anytime you are injured. Consumption of tangerine is no different either, as it a rich source of vitamin C. It is an excellent substitute for your vitamin C supplement, since it carries other important nutrients that can benefit your body.

If you are unaware, vitamin C speeds up wound healing through involvement in the production of collagen, which is very important when it comes to wound healing.

Also, vitamin C is a great antioxidant that protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. It also strengthens the body’s immunity against microorganisms; a process that’s important in preventing the wound from exacerbating into infections.

  • Cholesterol

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found certain compounds in the peel of tangerine to help lower blood cholesterol level. The compounds are called polymethoxylated flavones. Although the research used animal models, it showed that feeding them with just 1% polymethoxylated flavones was able to lower the level of LDL or bad cholesterol by about 32-40%.

The research also stated that these compounds did not show any effect on HDL or beneficial cholesterol level. The use of polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs) supplements are currently in test mode since they will provide more of these compounds easily as compared to taking them from citrus fruits. It will require at least 20 or more cups of orange or tangerine juice in order to get any therapeutic effect due to PMFs, which is practically impossible.

What’s even more interesting is that the research found these compounds to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs. In the future, we shouldn’t be surprised to see PMFs supplements take over the market for cholesterol-lowering drugs.

  • Aids digestion

Tangerine contains a significant amount of fiber, a non-nutritive component that is essential for a healthy digestive system. It helps facilitate the movement of food and feces down the gut, while also stimulating the production of digestive juices.

A diet rich in fiber is important in preventing most digestive disorders. A typical condition that troubles many people around the world is constipation, which can be relived through the consumption of a fiber-rich diet.

  • Sepsis

The consumption of tangerines can help treat sepsis. It is a dreaded infection that is caused by staphylococcus aureus. It causes reddening of wounds, pus formation, swellings, and acute pains. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body. The infection-fighting ability of tangerine makes it effective in killing the bacteria that causes it.

Many people use tangerine essential oil directly on wounds to kill the bacteria responsible for sepsis due to its strong antiseptic property.

  • Purifies the blood

This is attributed to the depurative property of tangerine, which makes it able to purify or cleanse the blood of foreign substances. These unwanted substances may be in the form of excess salt, uric acids and other pollutants which are eliminated through sweat, urine, and other excretory processes.

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By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!