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Bitter Orange

Veterinarian Reviewed on January 10, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) Fruit


Bitter orange fruit (Citrus aurantium) may also be called sour orange, marmalade orange, Seville orange or Chinese Bitter Orange. This is a spiny evergreen orange tree that is considered to be a native plant of Vietnam. The bitter orange fruit is also cultivated in the country of Curacao. In the Mediterranean region, it is also grown for its essential oils and also for the alkaloid called synephrine which is similar in therapeutic properties as epinephrine.

History and Origin

The bitter orange fruit got its name from its characteristic bitter taste. It is used in cooking and in making jam and marmalade and also for many recipes that call for a citrus taste. The bitter orange fruit is also found to have therapeutic properties and is also beneficial in weight loss.

Ancient Uses

The use of bitter orange fruit during ancient times was solely for food. It was considered a great source of vitamins and it was also believed that if it was taken regularly, it would help to avoid many types of diseases. The pulp of the bitter orange fruit was traditionally used for treating fevers and as a poultice for wounds; additionally it was also used as a soothing treatment for burns.
Tribes of the Amazon rainforest used the bitter orange fruit as a cure for stomach pain, indigestion and gas formation.

Modern Uses

The bitter orange fruit is widely used in Chinese medicine as an herbal extract or Zhi Shi that is useful in the treatment of many types of gastro intestinal diseases like constipation and stomach pain. It is also used by Chinese medicinal experts as way to improve positive energy flow in the body. It is very good in calming nerves and also curing insomnia.

Compared to Ephedra, the bitter orange fruit is more effective and safe to use for weight loss. Although proven to be very effective for weight loss, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the market and sale of weight loss supplements that contain Ephedrine and some brands have switched to the more natural bitter orange fruit as an alternative to Ephedrine.

There have been studies that the bitter orange fruit is also beneficial in fighting the premature effects of aging. In the cure for fungal infections, the bitter orange fruit has been proven to contain anti fungal properties as well. The cure for dementia is also being studied for the bitter orange fruit; however there is still no supporting evidence to prove this claim.

Side Effects

The use of the bitter orange fruit supplements for weight loss showed several side effects like increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and may also cause a negative effect on existing heart diseases. It is therefore important to consult your doctor or your dietician regarding the use of the bitter orange fruit for weight loss. To make weight loss more effective, it is recommended that you combine supplements with exercise and the proper diet. The use of bitter orange fruit supplements for pregnant and breastfeeding women are contraindicated. This herbal remedy may also have a serious adverse reaction with drugs like statins so it is recommended that you consult your doctor before using bitter orange fruit supplements.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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