Buddha hand: characteristics and properties

The Buddha hand is noted for its nutritional value and its culinary and medicinal applications. Find out more about this exotic fruit.

Last update: October 17, 2021

There are different varieties of citron; between these, one of the most curious is the so-called “Buddha hand” or “finger citron”, scientific name Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis. It is a food used for culinary purposes, given its versatility. Likewise, it is used medicinally due to its nutritional composition. Do you want to know more about its properties?

An article in the magazine Molecules highlights that this citron has antioxidant, antiplatelet, antitumor, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Hence its popularity in folk medicine. Next, we will tell you more about its origin, characteristics and uses.

Origin of the Buddha hand

In the book “Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry”, by Frederick Simoons, it is detailed that the Buddha’s hand is originally from India. However, it was taken by Buddhist monks to China, where it is known as “Wu zhi gan” or “five-finger tangerine.” Other names are “Xian yuan”, “Fragrant citron” and “Zhi yuan”.

Now, this food has a cultural importance in Asia. Its main producers in the world are in India, China, Japan and Indochina. It can also be found in the West and in Europe.

And although its main applications are at the culinary and health level, it is also considered a symbol of health, happiness, longevity, and good luck. One tradition was to give it away on the New Year. In addition, in ancient times it was represented carved in ivory, engravings and wood.

Buddha’s hand is used medicinally due to its content of flavonoids, fiber, and essential oils.


Although it belongs to the family Citrus medica, its shape has nothing to do with lemons, orange, grapefruit, among others. The Buddha hand is a type of citrus that can measure up to 20 centimeters, and its fruits are sectioned in the shape of fingers.

The human-like fingers are intertwined and in a prayer position. It is used as a religious offering in Buddhist temples. Buddha prefers that the fingers of the fruit are in a closed position to symbolize the act of prayer.

Dr. Shiota reports that the fruit has a thick skin and little or no acidic pulp. It has no juice or seeds, and it has such a strong aroma that it can be used as an air freshener in rooms and clothes. In turn, it is used for its pleasant smell in the kitchen.

Nutritional properties

Buddha’s hand is abundant in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and calcium. It has no fat and is therefore low in calories. It also has moderate values ​​of carbohydrates, sugars and proteins.

Among other things, stands out for its content of essential oils, antioxidants and aromatic compounds like limonin, diosmin and coumarin. The presence of some bioactive compounds are relevant for the treatment of some diseases.

Benefits of the hand of buddha

Given its nutritional composition, Buddha’s hand is a citrus fruit classified as a health food. Therefore, its incorporation into the daily diet is considered good for health. In particular, its benefits include those detailed below.

Analgesic effect

As an article published in Journal of Agricultural and Food ChemistryCitrus fruits like Buddha’s hand are high in flavonoids. These stand out particularly for their analgesic action, which can contribute to the reduction of some types of pain.

Inflammatory activity

Tropical citrus fruits like buddha’s hand also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Magazine Nutrition Research highlights naringenin, a type of flavonoid found in citrus fruits and Buddha’s hand, acts as a natural inhibitor of inflammatory processes.

Furthermore, the findings suggest that the consumption of flavonoids containing naringenin could be beneficial for the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular inflammatory process.

Immune system

Dr. Richard García comments that many of the polyphenols present in vegetables they act with an immunomodulatory effect. Among these, the flavonoids contained in citrus fruits such as Buddha’s hand stand out.

Its assimilation in the body helps protect against pathogens that cause infections, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. It also seems to have a positive effect on intestinal health, which also strengthens the defenses.

Heart health

The fiber content of this variety of citron contributes to the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. In particular, research published in the Latin American Archives of Nutrition indicates that fiber helps reduce high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and, therefore, reduces the risk of heart disease.

The fiber contained in the Buddha’s hand has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. However, it must be included in the framework of a healthy and varied diet.


One of the most important parts of the buddha hand is its bark. Many aromatic essential oils are found in the albedo under the peel. For this reason, it is used in confectionery and to perfume cabinets and rooms. The oil also scents creams that are used on the skin.

How to use Buddha’s hand in the kitchen?

While you cannot extract juice from the pulp of Buddha’s hand, it is obtained from its bark. In addition, its essential oils are ideal to give flavor and aroma to dishes such as cakes, jams, infusions, stews and broths. It is even the star ingredient of the cocktail gin tonic.

Other ways to consume this food is by grilling it or confiting it in syrup. Thus, it goes well with dishes with fish or seafood. His culinary contribution is so interesting that many chefs they already use it in their preparations.

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