Study: Local mandarins hold ‘significant amount’ of allergy-relief substance

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A new study is good news for Auburn-area mandarin growers and could turn out to be great news for cold and allergy sufferers. Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have confirmed that the juice from Owari Satsuma mandarins grown in Placer County orchards contains significant amounts of cold and allergy-fighting synephrine. A study last winter at the USDA’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany showed synephrine concentrations up to six times greater than those for orange juices studied previously, researcher Dr. Andrew Breksa III said. Agricultural advocate Joanne Neft raised the money and coordinated the study with the High Sierra Resource Conservation and Development Council, which works with the USDA. “The Placer County mandarin synephrine study suggests that there may be a natural remedy for the symptoms of allergies and the common cold, a remedy that is easy to peel, easy to eat and right in our own backyards,” Neft said. “Every child’s parents should be thrilled with this news.” The next step could be a bioavailability study to measure the rate synephrine enters the bloodstream after a person drinks Placer County mandarin juice — and how long it stays in the blood. Funding came from several private donors, the county Board of Supervisors, Mountain Mandarin Growers, Newcastle Area Business Association and the Placer County Farm Bureau. “This study highlights another tremendous opportunity for local growers and residents who appreciate our agricultural heritage,” Supervisor Robert Weygandt said. The full report has been released in the Journal of Agriculture and Food chemistry and is available online. — Gus Thomson