Bitter orange is a variety of oranges derived from the citrus aurantium tree. It rose to popularity among dieters and weight watchers after the substance ephedra was banned from the US market due to its harmful side effects. Bitter orange, which contains the substance synephrine was made an alternative ingredient to ephedra to safely aid in weight loss.
Bitter orange may be effective in the treatment of patients suffering from anxiety, epilepsy and insomnia. The essential oils from the orange peel and the hydroethanolic extract taken from the orange leaves are the key components that give the supplement its anxiolytic properties. Research shows that the oil extract delayed epileptic seizures during convulsion attacks.
The use of essential oils from the citrus aurantium has aroused interest due for its relaxing and calming characteristics discovered in an experiment conducted among laboratory animals. It showed that the essential oil contains the compounds limonene and mircene, substances known to possess anti-depressant effects on the central nervous system.
Seville orange, another term for citrus aurantium is also believed to assert anti-oxidant effects on the liver. Experiments show that the amount of glutathione, a widely-used anti-oxidant significantly increased and blood glucose level was reduced after taking bitter orange. Regular supplementation of this substance enhances the activities of the enzyme superoxide dismutase and reduces the damage on liver hepatocytes.
It is also suggested that bitter orange can be a safe and effective weight loss supplement for healthy, overweight individuals when taken in combination with St John’s Wort and caffeine. In an experiment conducted on healthy overweight subjects who were given a combination of bitter orange, St. John’s Wort and caffeine supplements, the subjects lost significant amounts of body fats and body weight. The subjects also lost moderate amounts of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
There were no significant changes noted on the subjects’ heart rate, blood pressure, blood chemistry, and on the results of electrocardiograph tests and urinalysis done on the subjects.
Results of this particular experiment shows that bitter orange is a safe alternative when taken with St. John’s Wort and caffeine combined with an effective diet program and exercise in pursuing a successful weight loss program.
While research say that components of bitter orange may be effective in promoting weight loss, studies show that those same substances may be the same ingredients that are potentially dangerous to health. The substances synephrine and octapamine, chemicals similar to ephedra are said to elevate blood pressure and increase heart rate. It may cause migraines, fainting spells, and can lead to stroke and heart attack. Always consult your doctor before taking any kind of weight loss supplements.