Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects


Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Overview


Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) other names: Aurantii Fructus, Aurantii fructus immaturus, Aurantii pericarpium, Aurantium, Bigarade, Bitter Orange Flower, Bitter Orange Peel, Chao Zhi Ke, Chisil, Citrus amara, Citrus aurantium, Citrus Aurantium Fruit, Citrus bigarradia, Citrus vulgaris, Extrait de Zeste d’Orange, Fleur d’Orange Amère, Flos Citri Auranti, Fructus Aurantii, Fructus Aurantii Immaturus, Green Orange, Kijitsu, Methyl-Synephrine, Methyl-Synephrine HCl, Méthyl-Synéphrine HCl, Methyl Synephrine, N-Methyltyramine, Naranja Amarga, Neroli Oil, Norsynephrine, Octopamine, Octopamine HCl, Orange Amère, Orange de Séville, Orange Peel Extract, Orange Verte, Seville Orange, Shangzhou Zhiqiao, Sour Orange, Synephrine, Synéphrine, Synephrine HCl, Synéphrine HCl, Synephrine Hydrochloride, Zeste d’Orange Amère, Zhi Ke, Zhi Qiao, Zhi Shi.

Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) fruit


The bitter orange is a very well known fruit and is considered a valuable medicinal herb as well. Initially the bitter orange probably originated from China. However, by the Middle Ages the fruit of the bitter orange was a favorite in many lands and its herbal qualities were highly regarded by Arabian physicians in the Middle East. Oil extracted from the flowers of the bitter orange was discovered and prepared as a scent during the 16th century, supposedly by an Italian princess named Anna-Marie de Nerola; she used the oil to scent her gloves. For this reason, the neroli floral oil, as it is now known is prohibitively expensive and famous as a perfume. The use of medicinal oranges is the main domain of the Chinese herbalists, who are still the greatest enthusiasts of medicinal oranges and its remedies today. Medicinal preparations are mainly made from the bitter Seville orange - C. aurantium or the sweeter tangerines and satsumas - C. reticulata. The bitter orange remedies have a great repute in many places.

The use of the bitter orange as a food and for preparation of herbal medicines has been going on for millennia. The flowers of the bitter orange, yields the valued neroli oil, the volatile oil extracted from the leaves and young shoots is known as the petit grain. These two distillates from the bitter orange are used extensively in the perfumery and scent industry. Another product of distillation of the bitter orange is an essence called the orange flower water; this is used in perfumery and also as a flavoring in the manufacture of candy and other baked goods. This essence also has many other medicinal purposes and uses in herbal treatments.

The bitter orange is a native plant of the tropical regions in the Asian continent. Nowadays, the bitter orange is widely grown as a plantation tree throughout the tropics and subtropical areas of the world. Areas along the Mediterranean coast abound in orchards of the bitter orange; Spain in particular has many of these orchards.



Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Health Benefits


Bitter orange is a plant. The peel, flower, leaf, fruit, and fruit juice of bitter orange are used to make medicine. Bitter orange oil is made from the peel.

Bitter orange, both taken by mouth and applied to the skin, has many uses. But so far, science has shown only that the oil, when applied to the skin, might be effective for treatment of fungal skin infections (ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot).

Bitter orange peel is also used to improve appetite, and, in surprising contrast, bitter orange peel is also used for weight loss. Other uses for the fruit and peel of bitter orange are upset stomach, nasal congestion, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) flower


The bitter orange flower and bitter orange oil are used for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders including ulcers in the intestine, constipation, diarrhea, blood in feces, drooping (prolapsed) anus or rectum, and intestinal gas. These parts of the bitter orange plant are also used for regulating fat levels in the blood, lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes, stimulating the heart and circulation, “blood purification,” disorders of liver and gallbladder, kidney and bladder diseases, and as a sedative for sleep disorders.

Some people use bitter orange flower and its oil for general feebleness, “tired blood” (anemia), impurities of the skin, hair loss, cancer, frostbite, and as a tonic.

Bitter orange peel is applied to the skin for swelling (inflammation) of the eyelid and its lining, as well as the retina in the eye. Bitter orange peel is also used for bleeding from the retina, exhaustion accompanying colds, headaches, nerve pain, muscular pain, joint pain, bruises, swelling of the veins (phlebitis), and bed sores.

In aromatherapy, the essential oil of bitter orange is applied to the skin and also inhaled as a painkiller.

In foods, bitter orange oil is used as a flavoring agent. The fruit of bitter orange is used for making marmalades and liqueurs such as Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and Curacao. Because the fruit of bitter orange is so sour and bitter, bitter orange fruit is rarely eaten, except in Iran and Mexico. The dried peel of the fruit is also used as a seasoning.

In manufacturing, bitter orange oil is used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and soaps.

In Asian medicine, the entire dried unripe fruit is used primarily for digestive disorders.

Bitter orange is frequently used in “ephedra-free” products since the FDA banned ephedra in 2004 for serious side effects on the heart. Bitter orange and caffeine, a frequent combination in weight loss and bodybuilding products, can cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate in healthy adults with otherwise normal blood pressure. There is no evidence to suggest that bitter orange is any safer than ephedra.

Bitter orange is considered a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Before taking bitter orange, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications. Bitter orange can interact with many drugs.

Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Side effects


Bitter orange is likely safe for children and adults when taken in the amounts found in food. Bitter orange essential oil is possibly safe when applied to the skin or inhaled as aromatherapy.

But bitter orange is possibly unsafe when taken as a supplement for a medical purpose such as weight loss. Bitter orange, particularly when taken with stimulants such as caffeine or caffeine-containing herbs, increases the risk for high blood pressure, fainting, heart attack, stroke, and other severe side effects.

There are reports that bitter orange can trigger headaches, including migraine and cluster headaches, in some people.

Bitter orange can cause sensitivity to the sun. Wear sunblock outside, especially if you are light-skinned.

Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium) tree


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bitter orange is likely safe during pregnancy when used in the amounts found in food. However, bitter orange is possibly unsafe when used in medicinal amounts. The effects of bitter orange on breast-feeding infants aren’t known. Stay on the safe side and avoid using bitter orange during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Diabetes: Some evidence suggests that bitter orange may interfere with blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Use with caution and monitor blood sugar levels closely.

High blood pressure: Some studies suggest that bitter orange, especially in combination with caffeine, can increase blood pressure in healthy people. Other studies have found no such blood pressure elevation. To date, there haven’t been any studies looking at the effect of bitter orange on blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure. Don’t take a chance. Avoid using bitter orange, especially in combination with stimulants such as caffeine, if you have high blood pressure.

Glaucoma: Bitter orange might worsen glaucoma. Avoid using it if you have this condition.

Heart disease: Using bitter orange, especially in combination with caffeine or other stimulants, might increase the risk of serious side effects in people with a particular heart problem called “long QT interval syndrome” (named after the wave pattern made by a electrocardiogram).

Irregular heartbeat (heart arrhythmia): Some studies suggest that bitter orange, especially in combination with caffeine, can increase heart rate in healthy people. Other studies have found no such effect on heart rate. So far, there have been no studies of the effect of bitter orange on people who have an irregular heartbeat. Avoid using bitter orange, especially in combination with stimulants such as caffeine, if you have an irregular heartbeat.

Surgery: Bitter orange acts like a stimulant, so it might interfere with surgery by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Stop taking bitter orange at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.