Bitter orange is a fruit that may not have gained popularity due to its resisting taste. But it has certainly gained the attention of scientists worldwide. It is increasingly being used for making extract for weight loss. It has gained global attention, especially after a study showing its effectiveness as a weight loss supplement closer to that of a popular prescription drug.


The Department of Physiology, Medicine and Pathology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington conducted a study and found Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) to be an effective weight-loss replacement for the drug ephedra.

So how does bitter orange help you with losing weight?

The Presence of Alkaloids

Bitter orange is rich in different alkaloids. These include:

  • Ephedrine
  • Synephrine
  • Hordenine
  • N-methyltyramine
  • Tyramine
  • Octopamine

Some of these alkaloids target beta-3 adrenergic receptors, thus promoting fat breakdown.

There are many animal based, in-vitro, and even human studies that show that bitter orange is beneficial in weight loss.

In one such study, bitter orange, St. John’s Wort and caffeine were given against a placebo to overweight adults after a weight loss program that involved exercise and low-calorie, low-fat diet.

The researchers found that the bitter orange group lost much more weight and fat. Their metabolic rate also increased after 6 weeks.

The study also found absence of any side effects in the markers of liver, renal and cardiovascular functions.

There are many more similar studies that give you good reasons for adding bitter orange into your diet if you want to lose weight.

There is another study conducted at the Creighton University Health Sciences Center, Omaha, it was found that the Synephrine in the fruit helped in increasing basal metabolic rate, helping in weight loss.

Researchers have also come to the conclusion that unlike ephedra, synephrine cannot be converted to its phenolic group. So the medical field doesn’t have to worry about conversion of the alkaloid into unwanted amphetamines, which has been the case with ephedra.

Ephedra has been banned by the FDA due to its impact on blood pressure levels. Preliminary studies have indicated that synephrine (from bitter fruit) is safe, but more studies are underway.

How to Take Bitter Orange?

All these studies have put bitter orange in a hot debate about its weight loss benefits and numerous other health benefits.

You can use it in different forms. in fact, the fruit has been part of traditional medicine for centuries. Bitter orange oil is often used in some cultures as a flavoring agent.

The fruit itself is also used in making liqueurs and marmalades. You cannot eat it raw because it is extremely bitter. But all its parts are used, including peel for one or the other purpose. For example, the dried peel is often used in some cultures as seasoning.

When it comes to a weight loss diet, there is no formal recommendation. However, some sources suggest taking not more than 32mg of synephrine a day if you are obese. However, it is always recommended to consult a doctor before you start using this extract.

Other Health Benefits

The health benefits of Citrus aurantium are not just limited to weight loss.

Bitter orange oil is also used in manufacturing many products including soaps and cosmetics. In fact, it is also used in making certain pharmaceuticals.


Traditional Asian medicine used the dried unripe fruit for treating digestive problems.

Bitter orange also has a place in Chinese medicine. It has been used for centuries for treating indigestion, constipation and nausea.

Some of the other health benefits of this fruit, as per alternative medicine, are as following:

  • Treating heartburn
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fighting fungal infections (using its oil)
  • Allergies
  • Intestinal ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Headaches
  • Eye swelling
  • Gallbladder and liver issues
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Stimulating circulation
  • Addressing mild sleep problems
  • Muscle pain

The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine reports that there is still no formal scientific proof that supports the use of this fruit for all these claimed health benefits. As already mentioned, it is still being studied for its benefits in treating indigestion, heartburn, fungal infections, constipation and nausea.