Natural Health Products

Non-traditional solutions to help boost your health and wellness.

Bitter Orange

General Information

Bitter orange can be found throughout the world including in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean region, as well as North America. It is used in various foods, make-up, and aromatic products. The oil from the tree leaves is called petitgrain, and the oil from the flowers is called neroli.

Common Name(s)
bitter orange, Seville orange, sour orange, Zhi shi
Scientific Name(s)

Citrus aurantium

How is this product usually used?

The fruit, peel, flowers, and leaves are made into tablets, capsules, and extracts. The oil extract is sometimes used topically (applied on the skin).

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

This herb is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Amazonian medicine for gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation, heartburn, indigestion, and loss of appetite. It is also used for other purposes such as nasal congestion and weight management.

When used topically, it has been used to treat pain, bruises, bedsores, and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Use of bitter orange is not supported by scientific evidence.

Bitter orange extract contains a chemical called synephrine (a chemical similar to ephedra) and can cause increases in blood pressure and heart rate resulting in heart attacks and strokes, particularly when taken by mouth with caffeine and/or other stimulants. When used on the skin, bitter orange can cause irritation.

Bitter orange can interact with a class of medications called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, selegiline), causing increased blood pressure. It can decrease blood sugar levels, particularly when taken with other diabetes medications (e.g., metformin).

Bitter orange can increase the levels of certain groups of medications processed by the liver. It can also interact with the following:

  • colchicine
  • dextromethorphan
  • felodipine
  • indinavir
  • midazolam
  • sildenafil

If you are taking any of these medications or herbal products, talk to your health care provider before using bitter orange.

Bitter orange should not be used by people who:

  • have a history of headaches
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a type of glaucoma called narrow-angle glaucoma
  • have an irregular heart rate or rhythm

In addition, it should not be taken for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery as it can interfere with heart rate and blood pressure control.

Bitter orange oil used on the skin may increase the risk of sunburn, particularly in light-skinned people.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Herbs at a Glance. Bitter Orange.
  2. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Bitter Orange.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.