Weight Loss Home > Bitter Orange

Bitter orange is a citrus fruit commonly used in weight-loss pills and other herbal supplements. It appears to help suppress the appetite and may also possess antioxidant and antibiotic or antiviral activity. At this time, however, no studies have been conducted on the safety and effectiveness of bitter orange. Potential side effects of the supplement include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and stroke.

What Is Bitter Orange?

Bitter orange is a small citrus fruit. It is known for its extremely bitter and sour taste. In some parts of the world, bitter orange is consumed as a food, although it is usually too bitter for most people to be edible. It is gaining popularity as a supplement, supposedly for a variety of different uses, such as:
  • To stimulate the appetite
  • To help with weight loss
  • To relieve heartburn and indigestion
  • To relieve nasal congestion
  • To help with chronic fatigue
  • To lower blood sugar and cholesterol.
People also apply it to the skin for a variety of conditions, such as for cold sores or fungal infections (such as athlete's foot).
(Click Bitter Orange Uses for more information on what it is used for.)

How Does It Work?

Bitter orange contains several different active components. One of these components is synephrine, a stimulant compound similar to ephedra. While synephrine may theoretically suppress the appetite or increase metabolism, it is also responsible for many of the side effects of the supplement. Bitter orange also contains flavenoids, plant compounds that may possess antioxidant activity. The supplement also appears to have some activity as an antibiotic or antiviral.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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