Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium (Chenpi): Botany, ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of a frequently used traditional Chinese medicine

J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Jun 28:220:265-282. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.03.031. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium (Rutaceae, CRP), commonly called as Chenpi () in Chinese, is most frequently used as a qi-regulating drug in thousands of Chinese medicine prescriptions. CRP is found mainly in major citrus-producing areas such as the Guangdong, Guangxi, Sichuan, Fujian, and Zhejiang Provinces of China. Since thousands of years in China, CRP has been used widely in clinical practice to treat nausea, vomiting, indigestion, anepithymia, diarrhea, cough, expectoration, and so on. Currently, CRP is listed in the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China. The present paper reviews the botany, ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, pharmacology, quality control, and toxicology of CRP.

Materials and methods: Information on CRP was gathered from various sources including the books on traditional Chinese herbal medicine; scientific databases including Elsevier, PubMed, and ScienceDirect; Baidu Scholar; CNKI; and others and from different professional websites.

Results: Approximately 140 chemical compounds have been isolated and identified from CRP. Among them, volatile oils and flavonoids are generally considered as the main bioactive and characteristic ingredients. CRP possesses wide pharmacological effects such as having a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular, digestive, and respiratory systems, antitumor, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties; and a protective effect on the liver and nerve. Moreover, hesperidin is chosen as an indicator in the quantitative determination of CRP, and the quantity of aflatoxin in CRP must not exceed the standard limit mentioned in the pharmacopoeia.

Conclusions: In brief, CRP has a warming nature, and hence, it can be used in harmony with a lot of medicines. CRP not only exhibits its effects individually but also aids other medicines exhibit a better effect. CRP can be consumed with tea, food, alcohol, and medicine. Irrespective of the form it is being consumed, CRP not only shows a synergistic effect but also has strengths on its own. Modern pharmacological studies have demonstrated that CRP has marked bioactivities, especially on the diseases of the digestive and respiratory systems. The bioactivities of CRP are useful for its clinical application and provide prospects for the development of drugs as well as food and health products for people. Although CRP is a commonly used drug in the traditional Chinese herbal prescription, there is an urgent need for further research on its synergistic effect with other herbs based on the compatibility theory of TCM, which would further increase our understanding on the compatibility theory of TCM.

Keywords: Botany; Chenpi; Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium; Ethnopharmacology; Hesperidin (PubChem CID: 3594); Nobiletin (PubChem CID: 72344); Pharmacology; Phytochemistry; Synephrine (PubChem CID: 7172).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Synergism
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Ethnopharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods*


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • chenpi