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  • Jean Ang

Can I Eat Oranges When I Have A Cough?

Did you know?

You cannot find oranges in the wild. The orange is not purebred, it is a hybrid between the pomelo and the mandarin.

An orange is packed with goodness, it is a great source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. It enhances iron absorption, promotes a healthy immune system and protects cells from damage, among many others.

The orange seems to have a bad name in TCM. You probably have been told time and again to avoid oranges when you had a cough.

In TCM, the orange has a 'cold' property (the four properties are cold, hot, warm and cool), which exacerbate an existing 'wind-cold cough' by obstructing the lung-qi. However it is rare to have someone down with an entirely 'wind-cold cough' considering the hot and humid climate of Singapore and the typical diet and lifestyle of the locals. Nevertheless, 'hot expands and cold contracts', thus when you ingest something cold, cool or iced, it triggers your airways causing involuntary contractions and makes your cough worse. In addition, the cold 'contracts' the phlegm, 'solidifies' (for lack of a better adjective) it, hindering the flow of air and you'd cough more in order to breathe better.

That said, to answer your question, you can eat oranges when you are coughing, perhaps a slice or two. Or choose other fruits like the apple instead, for the time being until your cough has cleared.

By the way, mandarins, the one we eat during LNY are smaller and flatter, unlike the common oranges, and are relatively sweeter. There are so many kinds I cannot keep track anymore.

Photo taken from here.

Interesting TCM fact about the orange: While the flesh of the orange is 'cold', the orange peel has a 'warm' property. Its medicinal use includes soothing of the chest to relieve chest stuffiness, reducing nausea, dispelling phlegm and warming of the stomach.

Substitute the second tub of pineapple tarts with an orange today, if you are not coughing!

Top photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

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