Used for Today?
| Safety Issues
| Interactions You Should Know About
is the Latin name for a fruit called Seville orange, or bitter orange. The juice, peel, and essential oil have all been used medicinally. Traditionally uses include digestive problems, epilepsy, fatigue, insomnia, infections, respiratory problems, skin problems, and many other uses. As a flavoring, essence of bitter orange is found in the drinks Triple Sec and Cointreau.
Used for Today?
juice and peel contain the stimulant chemical synephrine as well as related stimulants such as octopamine, tyramine, N-methyltyramine, and hordeline. On this basis,
has been widely marketed as a
. However, there is no reliable evidence that
is effective, and considerable reason to worry that it may cause harm (see
). The reassuring statement made by some manufacturers that
offers the “benefits of ephedra without the risks” is not supported by scientific evidence.
The only published
double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
juice did not test the herb alone, but rather evaluated a combination product that also contained caffeine and
St. John's wort
While the results were somewhat positive, overall the study was too preliminary to reach reliable conclusions. An even less reliable study evaluated the synephrine constituent of
and found possible “fat burning” actions.
In view of the weakness of the evidence in favor of
, and the considerable evidence that it presents health risks, we recommend against using it for weight loss.
Other evidence, far too weak to rely upon at all, hints that synephrine-rich
extracts might have
Besides synephrine and other stimulants, whole
peel contains including citral, limonene, and several
, including hesperidin, neohesperidin, naringin, and rutin. Weak evidence hints that these substances might have
and antiviral actions.
contains linalool and the fragrant substance limonene and might have antianxiety and sedative effects.
However, neither of these proposed uses has more than extremely preliminary supporting evidence.
products are made from the juice and/or concentrated extracts of the peel and are said to contain a fixed percentage of synephrine or total amines. A typical recommended dosage of such products ranges from 100–150 mg two to three times daily. However, these doses may be unsafe.
Most of the safety concerns regarding citrus aurantium relate to its stimulant constituents.
The drug synephrine is known to produce many unpleasant and possibly dangerous side effects, including headache, agitation, rapid heart rate, and heart palpitations. In some people, it can cause
, kidney damage, increased pressure in the eye, and reduced blood circulation to the heart and the extremities. The other stimulant amines in
may increase such effects. There is one case report of a heart attack that appears possibly related to use of a citrus aurantium supplement,
and another that links the herb to stroke.
juice or concentrated extracts can raise blood pressure and increase heart rate
and therefore should not be used by individuals with
high blood pressure
. The herb should also be avoided by people with
Synephrine can also interact with numerous medications and other drugs, including stimulants (e.g.,
, pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), Ritalin, and even caffeine) and anesthetics. The tyramine constituent of
can cause deadly side effects when combined with drugs in the
The peel and essential oil of
may cause photosensitivity (increased tendency to react to sun exposure). For this reason, combination treatment with drugs that cause the same side effect (such as
) is not recommended.
juice can alter the way that the liver processes various medications, potentially raising or lowering their levels.
In particular, the drugs
and felodipine (a
calcium channel blocker
) are thought to be affected by
juice, but numerous other drugs may interact with it as well. For this reason, we recommend that if you are taking any medication that is critical to your health, you should not take
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking
Drugs in the
family: Do not use
Ephedrine, pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), Ritalin,
calcium channel blockers, drugs that cause photosensitivity (such as
), or any medication that is critical to your health: Do not use
without consulting a physician.