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8 min read / 24 May 2024 / yasmin sharp

8 Benefits and Uses of Tangerine Oil

Discover the diverse benefits and practical uses of tangerine oil, from enhancing sleep to boosting skin health.


Whilst tangerines are generally considered to be a popular fruit, they are often confused with mandarins, which is also the case when it comes to the extracted essential oils.

The confusion comes from the fact that tangerines are a variation of mandarins that evolved after the mandarin migrated from China to the west.

There are also a lot of similarities shared by the oils, which can make it difficult to tell them apart.

But, whilst the differences may not be easy to identify upon first glance, they are important enough to highlight, especially in terms of health and wellness.

We put a spotlight onto some of the most notable tangerine oil benefits to give you a better idea of why it is a force to be reckoned with.

What is tangerine oil?

Tangerine essential oil is cold pressed from the rind of the fruit, producing an orange to pale yellow oil.

Because the fruit is larger than its mandarin cousin, the oil tends to have a thinner scent body, although it is lighter and more refreshing. Some say its scent is more akin to a bitter orange, as opposed to a mandarin.

Nevertheless, that has little effect on its sweet and zesty aroma, which instantly recalls the scent of the fruit.

This is partly why tangerine oil is so often used in aromatherapy, as it can have a soothing effect that encourages calmness and positivity.

How does tangerine oil work?

Terpinene, limonene and myrcene compounds are the main components of tangerine oil, with each one offering promising wellness potential.

Limonene is a common feature of all citrus fruits and extensive research has discovered that it can provide an array of health benefits that are anti-inflammatory, antiviral and gastroprotective.

It is believed that terpinene can provide antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties that could be used in various therapeutic treatments.

Myrcene is another compound that is reported to support antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, which researchers believe could lead to interesting biochemical and biological developments in years to come.

What are the benefits of tangerine oil?

The benefits of tangerine essential oil could allow it to:

1. Improve sleep patterns

The natural sedative qualities of tangerine oil are best experienced through inhalation, helping to calm the mind to prepare it for rest.

A 2020 study found that tangerine oil benefits can lead to the reduction of sleep-onset latency, which encourages you to sleep faster, resulting in a better night’s rest.

Researchers found that inhaling higher concentrations of the oil helped to produce this effect, which led to participants falling asleep more quickly.

These results suggest that inhaling tangerine essential oil could be beneficial for treating stress-induced insomnia, as its calming properties remove stress as an obstacle to sleep.

2. Deliver antioxidant protection

The benefits of tangerine oil also includes antioxidant activity, which could be used to give more protection to the body. 

Adding a few drops of the oil to a diffuser or oil burner could prove useful in attacking and inhibiting the activity of free radicals, which may help to prevent oxidative damage that can sometimes lead to further health complications.

Providing this much needed protection for our cells not only reduces the risk of encountering serious diseases, but it can be beneficial for our health overall.

3. Provide anti-inflammatory properties

If you prefer a natural treatment for swollen joints and muscles, then tangerine essential oil’s anti-inflammatory properties could prove useful.

A study from 2022 found that tangerine extract could contain anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer qualities that can be put to therapeutic use.

One point of caution is when and how you use the oil on your skin. Because tangerine oil is phototoxic, it is best applied in the evening or when you are not due to come into contact with direct sunlight for several hours.

Another option could be to dilute the oil with a carrier oil and add a few drops to warm bath water.

Then simply relax in the water and let the natural properties soak into your joints and muscles to provide relief.

4. Reduce stress and boost mood

Many people enjoy the benefits of tangerine oil through aromatherapy, diffusing the bright, uplifting scent in their homes to combat moments of stress and anxiety.

Like most citrus fruits, simply smelling the scent of a tangerine can have a positive, almost instantaneous, effect on the mind, promoting positivity and offering a lift for low moods.

The oil offers the smell of a bright summer’s day and diffusing it in your home can make all the difference to moments of emotional difficulty.

5. Boost heart health

The antioxidant properties of tangerine oil could also have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.

Like other citrus fruits, tangerine extract contains bioflavonoids, which have been found to improve glucose intolerance, scavenge free radicals and suppress inflammation.

One 2019 study concluded that these flavonoids were able to reduce oxidative stress, and also improve inflammation and arterial blood pressure, which could be the reason they have a therapeutic role to play in combating cardiovascular diseases.

6. Increase immune system protection

It is understood that citric acid – a central component of all citrus fruits, including tangerines – can be beneficial for the immune system.

The intestine is the largest part of the immune system and it faces ongoing exposure to antigens and a host of bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea and yeasts, whilst also acting as the main point of entry for key pathogens.

A study published in early 2024 found that the intestinal tight junction barrier can be given additional protection by citric acid, whilst also boosting its immune function and preventing the spread of influenza viruses that are attacking the tract.

7. Work as a homemade house cleaner

Citrus-based oils are often used as a key ingredient in homemade cleaners due to their antibacterial and antifungal capabilities.

Tangerine essential oil contains limonene, which is what gives most citrus fruits their antibacterial properties.

One study from 2023 found that essential oil extracted from the leaves of citrus deliciosa displayed positive activity against a variety of yeasts, including Candida albicans, which is responsible for causing a variety of infections such as thrush and vaginal yeast infections.

8. Support collagen production

Tangerine oil – just like the fruit – is rich in vitamin C, which can not only support wound healing and cell protection, but also help to maintain healthy skin.

This is because vitamin C can stimulate type 1 collagen production and it has been identified as the only antioxidant that is able to increase its synthesis.

You can include it in your daily skincare routine by adding a few drops of the oil to your favourite skin cream or lotion before applying as normal. Alternatively, dilute the oil with a carrier oil and apply to your skin.

How do you use tangerine oil?

Tangerine oil uses depend on whether you want to help the mind or body, giving you the option to try it as:

An aromatherapy treatment

Tangerine oil is a favourite amongst many fans of aromatherapy, with its sweet and citrusy scent providing an uplifting sense of relief.

The tangy notes provide the perfect backdrop for any part of the day, and the sedative qualities can help the mind to switch off quicker before bed.

Try adding a few drops to your chosen diffuser or oil burner and allow this uplifting oil to balance your emotions and help you feel calmer.

A massage lotion

The natural anti-inflammatory properties of tangerine oil benefits joints and muscles, especially when diluted and rubbed into the skin.

It can be the ideal treatment at the end of a long day or after a strenuous workout at the gym.

Simply dilute with a carrier oil and rub into the affected area as needed, making sure to avoid coming into direct sunlight for some time after.

What is the history of tangerine oil?

Tangerines used to be known as the “tangerine orange” when they were first exported through a port in Tangier, Morocco in the mid-19th century.

This port was reportedly the main route of access for tangerines into mainland Europe during this period.

This history of tangerines and tangerine oil before this point remains unclear, as it is assumed that their cultural significance is closely tied into that of the mandarin.

Whilst it may not be the most prominent of citrus oils, the benefits of tangerine oil are still significant and its natural properties offer the potential to support human wellness for years to come.

Tangerine oil FAQs

Is tangerine oil phototoxic?

Tangerine essential oil is highly concentrated and considered to be phototoxic, so extra care should be taken when applying it to your skin.

One of the most common uses of tangerine oil is in the evening when the sun has gone down, or in periods when the skin is not likely to be exposed to direct sunlight for several hours.

When using tangerine oil – or any essential oil – for topical application, you should always dilute it with a carrier oil.

What does tangerine oil smell like?

Tangerine oil has the same sweet-smelling aroma that you experience with the fruit, as the oil is extracted from the peel via cold-pressing.

It blends well with other citrus oils, as well as essential oils like rosewood, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, neroli and lavender.

What are the risks of using tangerine oil?

Tangerine oil is phototoxic, so if you apply it to the skin, avoid contact with direct sunlight for several hours as it can cause irritation.

You should never consume the oil, as essential oils are not intended for that purpose, and doing so could cause serious health complications.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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