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What is Bitter Orange Extract?

Autumn Rivers
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bitter orange extract is taken from the peel of bitter oranges, which originated in Asia, and can now be found mostly in Europe, South America, and the United States. This product has various medicinal properties that have been known about for centuries; more recently it has been lauded for the fact that it promotes weight loss. This is because it increases metabolism in those who ingest it as an herbal remedy, though of course it is not without its side effects. For example, it also increases the heart rate and blood pressure, so it should be taken with some caution. Its main active ingredient is called synephrine, which is a mild stimulant that acts as a fat burner in those who take bitter orange extract.

The plant is scientifically called Citrus aurantium, and belongs to the rutaceae family. It is native to southern Vietnam, but is now grown in various areas, such as India, South America, and Italy. Varieties of bitter orange can also be found in the United States, most notably in Florida. The extract is typically taken from the peel, but some cultures have found the flower and the leaf to be useful in numerous ways, as well.

This herbal remedy started out as a way to treat various medical conditions in different countries, and it is still used that way in many cultures today. The peel is considered the most helpful part of the orange since it is made up of carotenoids, synephrine, and flavones, to name a few important elements. Patients are often given teas, tinctures, and pills made of bitter orange extract, which tends to have a strong smell and taste.

The bitter orange peel is known around the world for curing medicinal issues dealing with the digestive system, such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort, though not all of these have been scientifically proven. The flower is often used by some to treat anxiety, insomnia, gout, headaches, vomiting, chest pain, and obesity. Not surprisingly, curing the latter is what many people in modern times are most interested in, which explains the current popularity of bitter orange extract. This is especially true among those who seek natural products in an attempt to be healthy while losing weight.

Though bitter orange extract is praised for being a natural way to increase metabolism, it does come with some negative side effects. Many are similar to what one would experience after overdosing on caffeine, as this dietary supplement is a stimulant. Along with increasing the metabolism, it also increases the heart rate, which is why patients with a history of heart problems are usually advised to avoid this supplement, or alert their doctor before taking it. Additionally, bitter orange extract can result in an irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, blurred vision, seizures, and stroke. Some people taking bitter orange extract may also have an allergic reaction consisting of hives, itching, swelling, breathing difficulties, and a rash, or signs of an intestinal condition characterized by vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and cramping.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By anon341612 — On Jul 13, 2013

I'm on a pill that has an active ingredient from bitter orange. I agree that it is definitely helpful for weight loss purposes because I have lost 28 pounds by simply using prescopodene. I guess it's true of all diet pills that once they are taken on long term basis or if they are taken in the wrong manner, I guess that's the time when negative effects come out. I've been using this pill for roughly three months now and I still haven't had any weird effects from the pill.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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