Tangerines are members of the citrus family and also are called mandarin oranges. These fruits are considered a distinct species, Citrus reticulata Blanco. The thin, loose peel is easily removed and has earned these fruits the nickname of “kid-glove oranges.” Tangerine seed has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. The use of tangerine seed for health purposes is considered an alternative therapy; consult a health-care professional before using tangerine seed.
Tangerines and Antioxidants
Tangerines and their seeds contain numerous antioxidants -- substances that can protect you from the effects of molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are produced by the body in response to pollution, radiation or tobacco smoke. Free radicals can damage your cells and might be related to some diseases. Known as ju in Chinese medicine, the tangerine has many volatile oils and flavonoids. Some of these compounds are antioxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols in Tangerine Seed
A study reported in the October-December 2002 “Food Journal” compared the total polyphenol content of extracts from seeds of various citrus fruits, including two varieties of tangerine. Kaewwan, one of the tangerine varieties, had the highest content of polyphenols of the seven citrus types studied. Fremont, another tangerine variety, had the second-highest amount of polyphenols.
Limonoids and limonioid glucosides are citrus compounds found in the seeds, peel and fruit. Limonoids have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animals, according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Some laboratory tests have found that limonoids are more effective against human breast cancer cells than the drug tamoxifen. Limonoids also might decrease LDL cholesterol. A study reported in the March-April 2003 “Journal of Biosciences” noted that a new limonoid derivative found in tangerine seeds displayed antimalarial properties.
Tangerines and Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, dried ripe tangerine seed is known as juhe. It is used to regulate the flow of qi, or energy, and relieve pain. The Fu Zhou Corona Science & Technology Development Company, which manufactures traditional Chinese medicines, says juhe can be used for hernias, painful swelling of the testicles and mastitis with painful nodules of the breast. Before using tangerine seeds for a health-related purpose, consult a health-care professional.