What is Bitter Orange
Bitter orange is a tree native to Asia. The peel, flower, leaf, fruit, and fruit juice are used to make medicine. Bitter orange oil is made from the peel and/or flower.
Bitter orange contains an active ingredient called synephrine that is similar to ephedra. In 2004, the FDA banned ephedra due to serious effects on the heart. Many weight loss and bodybuilding products contain bitter orange and caffeine, which can cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate in healthy adults. There is concern that using bitter orange might cause heart problems.
- Anxiety. Some research in adults with acute coronary syndrome shows that inhaling bitter orange flower essential oil for 2 days after leaving the hospital can improve anxiety. Other research shows that taking bitter orange flower by mouth might slightly reduce anxiety symptoms in postmenopausal women with moderate anxiety.
- Athletic performance. The effects of bitter orange on exercise performance are conflicting. Some early research shows that bitter orange can improve performance during squat exercises when taken with or without caffeine. But it does not seem to reduce feelings of exertion. Other research shows that taking bitter orange, alone or along with a specific pre-workout supplement, once before exercise does not improve weight lifting ability, or cycle or sprint performance, in healthy adults. Taking bitter orange along with the same pre-workout supplement for 8 weeks also does not improve strength in men who weight train.
- Diabetes. Early research suggests that drinking tea made from the leaves of Indian snakeroot and the fruit of bitter orange for 4 months appears to decrease blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Indigestion (dyspepsia). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing bitter orange along with other ingredients (Zhizhu) three times daily for 4 weeks reduces indigestion.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Aromatherapy with bitter orange blossom essential oil might improve emotions and mental symptoms of PMS in healthy, young women. But it doesn’t seem to improve physical symptoms.
- Obesity. The effects of bitter orange on weight are unclear. Some research suggests that a combination of bitter orange, caffeine, and St. John’s wort might help for weight reduction when used with a low calorie diet and exercise. Taking a specific combination product (Prograde Metabolism, Prograde Nutrition, Lutz, FL) containing bitter orange, raspberry ketone, caffeine, capsaicin, garlic, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chromium along with diet and exercise for 8 weeks also seems to improve weight and energy. However, another study found that a combination of bitter orange, caffeine, and several other ingredients did not help people lose weight.
- Anxiety before surgery. Research suggests that taking bitter orange two hours before surgery reduces anxiety.
- Ringworm (Tinea corporis). Early research shows that applying bitter orange oil to the skin might help treat ringworm in some people.
- Jock itch (Tinea cruris). Early research shows that applying bitter orange oil to the skin might help treat jock itch in some people.
- Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis). Early research shows that applying bitter orange oil to the skin might help treat athlete’s foot in some people.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Eye swelling.
- Gas (flatulence).
- Liver and gallbladder problems.
- Nasal congestion.
- Nerve and muscle pain.
- Stimulating appetite.
- Stimulating the heart and circulation.
- Stomach and intestinal upset.
- Other conditions.