‘Citrus aurantium’ or more commonly known as Bitter orange or Seville orange, is a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. Bitter orange extract contains an active ingredient called p-synephrine, that is used to make various dietary supplements that help with weight loss, skin care and brain health. (1) In 2004, supplements containing ‘p-synephrine extracts’ were banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), due to its structural similarity to ‘ephedrine’, claiming that it increased heart rate, raised blood pressure and elevated the risk of causing strokes. However, several recent studies have claimed that bitter orange extracts do not result in cardiovascular effects or behave as stimulants when consumed within prescribed doses.
Traditional uses of Citrus aurantium
In traditional Chinese medicine, the fruit and the dried peel of Citrus aurantium, has been used for centuries, owing to its potent health benefits, for the treatment of indigestion, diarrhoea, dysentery and constipation. It has also been used as sedatives in South American folk medicine to treat insomnia, anxiety, and epilepsy. (2)
‘Seville oranges’ got its name from Seville, Spain where it has been grown for over 800 years and traditionally used in the preparation of various food products such as marmalades, syrups, liqueurs, and juices. The fruit is also valued for their oil content and used as flavouring agents and in the preparation of perfumes.
Does bitter orange really help with weight loss?
Bitter orange extract is used in various supplements, weight management and sports performance products. The extract contains protoalkaloidal constituents that increases the metabolic rate. This helps burn calories faster and suppress appetite. Citrus aurantium, contains beta agonists that increase thermogenesis and aid weight loss. However, it is crucial to monitor the dosage before consuming such herbal supplements.
Who should not consume bitter orange?
Bitter orange extract has several compounds that may impact the nervous system. Although there isn’t enough scientific research to prove the safety of the extract, it has been considered possible unsafe when consumed in larger amounts than commonly used doses. It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking bitter orange supplements in the following conditions:
- Diabetes (3) – Consuming bitter orange may cause an imbalance in the blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Heart disease – Bitter orange in combination with other stimulants such as caffeine may increase heart rate and blood pressure and trigger strokes and heart attacks.
- Other conditions – p-synephrine extracts must be avoided by patients who suffer from glaucoma, hypertension, hyperthyroidism or tachyarrhythmia.
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Shubham Pharmachem’s blog posts have been written with the information gathered from approved medical journals and websites online. Our research and technical teams strive to provide relevant information through such articles. We strongly advise readers to not consume or administer any medication without prior consultation with their doctor.
- Healthline [online]. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/bitter-orange#basics
- NCBI [online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655712/
- Webmd [online]. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-976/bitter-orange