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 extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredients. The oil extract is sometimes used topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin (applied on the skin).

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 topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin, it has been used to treat 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.

Some weight-loss products contain bitter orange extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient. The 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.

There have been reports of fainting, heart attack, and stroke in healthy people after taking bitter orange supplements alone or combined with caffeine. People with an existing heart condition or high blood pressure, or who are taking certain medications (such as MAO inhibitors), caffeine, or other herbs or supplements that speed up the heart rate should avoid use of bitter orange-containing products.

Pregnant women should also avoid products that contain bitter orange.

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.


National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Herbs at a Glance. Bitter Orange.

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