Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium)
The advantages of organic and natural ingredients are well-documented and highly appreciated for their myriad health benefits. A prominent member of many health supplements is Bitter Orange. This article aims to navigate through the fascinating world of this powerful fruit, exploring its characteristics, benefits, recommended dosages, methods of consumption, and any possible side effects.
What is Bitter Orange?
Known as Citrus aurantium, Bitter Orange is a fruit-bearing tree native to Southeast Asia. It is part of the Rutaceae family and bears a striking resemblance to other citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes. Bitter Orange is characterised by its sweetly scented flowers, fresh green leaves, and bitter fruit, hence its name (1).
The cultivation of Bitter Orange extends beyond the fruit itself. Its oil is extracted and utilised in perfumery and aromatherapy. Various parts of the tree, including the flowers, peels, and leaves, have a long-standing history of traditional medicinal use. Recent scientific research demonstrates that regular consumption of Bitter Orange offers a range of health-promoting properties.
What does Citrus Aurantium do?
Bitter Orange, or Citrus Aurantium, contains an array of organic compounds, each contributing uniquely and significantly to overall health improvement. If you consume Bitter Orange, these are the primary compounds that lend their specific benefits to your body:
Synephrine, a natural alkaloid, is one of the most potent compounds present in Bitter Orange. Structurally similar to the previously used, but now banned, ephedrine, synephrine is considered a safer and more effective alternative due to its non-impact on the cardiovascular system. Synephrine's thermogenic properties help to stimulate metabolism and initiate the calorie-burning process.
Limonene, a cyclic terpene compound with a distinct citrus aroma, is another significant compound found in Bitter Orange. Noted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Limonene helps to neutralise the body's free radicals and prevent inflammation (2).
Another constituent of Bitter Orange is Octopamine, a trace mineral that functions as a neuromodulator in the central nervous system. Research indicates that it plays a role in enhancing mood and cognitive abilities (3).
Quality control tests are conducted on all compounds before they are included in supplements to ensure safety and efficacy. The extraction of these compounds contributes to the final supplement formulation.
Benefits of Bitter Orange:
Bitter Orange serves as a natural reservoir of multiple beneficial constituents, providing several advantages to our body.
Bitter Orange plays a pivotal role in stimulating thermogenesis within the body, a process integral to metabolism. Thermogenesis refers to the body's production of heat and increased energy output. The synephrine compound in Bitter Orange activates the beta-3 adrenergic receptors in fats, instigating oxidation and fat mobilisation. Thus, it provides a safe and effective method for shedding excess body fat (4).
Bitter Orange, through its influence on the body's metabolic rate and thermogenic properties, provides substantial support for those seeking weight loss. It accelerates metabolic reactions within the body, leading to efficient energy use. Enhancing metabolism and calorie burn-off offers a safe route to weight loss (5).
Bitter Orange operates as a natural antioxidant, neutralising the free radicals produced as by-products during chemical reactions. These oxidative radicals can trigger inflammatory responses within the body, potentially leading to organ damage and inflammation.
Boosts Energy Levels:
By accelerating the body's thermogenesis process, Bitter Orange aids in heat and energy production. It enhances the efficient use of available energy sources, thereby maintaining healthy energy levels in the body. Bitter Orange is a popular ingredient in supplements due to its role in boosting overall energy and agility.
How does Citrus Aurantium work?
Bitter Orange harbours various effective compounds, each with unique and effective mechanisms of action for enhancing overall well-being. Synephrine in Bitter Orange can interact with the central nervous system's adrenergic receptors. By manipulating neurotransmitters, it improves the 'fight or flight' response in emergency situations. Synephrine influences several physiological processes, including heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism (6).
By targeting the fat cells' beta-3 adrenergic receptors, synephrine triggers fat breakdown, supporting triglyceride decomposition. This not only aids in maintaining a healthy metabolism and effective weight management but also liberates energy utilised by the body for heat production and cellular functions.
The interaction of limonene and octopamine compounds with different bodily systems is less well-understood. Nevertheless, research indicates they contribute to the overall health benefits associated with Bitter Orange consumption (2).
The suggested dosage for Bitter Orange is between 25 to 50 mg per day from all sources. A daily dose of 50 mg has been shown to initiate and sustain healthy metabolic activity in adult men (7).
It's important to ensure you're not consuming Bitter Orange from any other natural or synthetic sources. If you're taking another supplement with a similar formulation, calculate the daily dose accordingly. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it's prudent to consult a healthcare professional for personalised advice before starting this supplement. Adherence to any supplement or ingredient's advised or recommended dosage is critical for optimal and safe benefits. Consistency with labelled dosages ensures long-term safety and efficacy.
For those opting to take Bitter Orange in the form of Super 23, the recommended tablet dosage is two tablets per day. Individuals with sensitivity are advised to take a lower dose of supplements to avoid complications. Consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended if you have an underlying medical condition.
Best Time to Take Citrus Aurantium:
Ideally, Bitter Orange should be taken early in the morning on an empty stomach. It may also be consumed just before a workout to kickstart your metabolism. Due to its stimulatory effects, it's not advised to take Bitter Orange at night before sleep as it could potentially disrupt a restful night's slumber.
How to Consume Citrus Aurantium:
Bitter Orange is available in various formulations; you can select any based on personal preference. Some common forms of Bitter Orange supplements are:
Bitter Orange supplements are commonly available as tablets or capsules with varying concentrations. It's advisable to select reputable brands with transparent and TGA-approved ingredient lists and to adhere to the recommended dosage.
Bitter Orange also produces an essential oil traditionally used in aromatherapy for stress relief and promoting relaxation. These essential oils are highly concentrated and should never be ingested. For topical use, they can be diluted by mixing with a carrier oil.
Tea made from Bitter Orange can be prepared by steeping the fruit in boiling water. As the content of active compounds in Bitter Orange tea can vary, it's important to standardise your intake. If you're consuming Bitter Orange tea, avoid taking any other supplement to prevent overdose.
Citrus Aurantium Side Effects:
While Bitter Orange, an integral component of the TGA-registered supplement Super 23, touts numerous health benefits and has passed stringent quality and safety tests for safe human consumption, it should be noted that certain sensitive individuals may still experience side effects (8).
Bitter Orange's stimulating effects on metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure could potentially cause hypertension and blood pressure issues when taken in high doses. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before starting this supplement.
Interactions with Medications:
Bitter Orange may interact with certain medications, including those used for hypertension, antidepressants, and other drugs metabolised by the liver. Always inform your healthcare provider about any supplements you're taking to avoid harmful interactions.
Some sensitive individuals may experience mild digestive symptoms, such as upset stomach, nausea, or heartburn, after consuming Bitter Orange.
Sensitivity and Allergies:
People with citrus allergies should steer clear of Bitter Orange supplements or related products as they might trigger an immune response.
Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium) is a remarkable fruit containing several bioactive compounds that potentially boost energy, thermogenesis, metabolism, and overall well-being. Regular intake of Bitter Orange in the form of Super 23 can significantly enhance overall health. As a valuable addition to a balanced and healthy lifestyle, Bitter Orange can support individuals in their pursuit of optimal health and vitality. Adhering to the labelled dosage is recommended for safe results.
- Pawar, R.S., Sagi, S. & Leontyev, D., 2020. 'Analysis of bitter orange dietary supplements for natural and synthetic phenethylamines by LC–MS/MS.' Drug Test Anal., 12(9), pp.1241-1251. doi: 10.1002/dta.2871
- Han, Y., Sun, Z. & Chen, W., 2020. 'Antimicrobial Susceptibility and Antibacterial Mechanism of Limonene against Listeria monocytogenes.' Molecules, 25(1). doi: 10.3390/MOLECULES25010033
- Thulshan Jayathilaka, E.H.T., Liyanage, T.D., Rajapaksha, D.C. et al., 2021. 'Octominin: An antibacterial and anti-biofilm peptide for controlling the multidrug resistance and pathogenic Streptococcus parauberis.' Fish Shellfish Immunol., 110, pp.23-34. doi: 10.1016/J.FSI.2020.12.017
- Park, J., Kim, H.L., Jung, Y., Ahn, K.S. & Kwak, H.J., Um, J.Y., 2019. 'Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium Linné) Improves Obesity by Regulating Adipogenesis and Thermogenesis through AMPK Activation.' Nutrients, 11(9). doi: 10.3390/NU11091988
- Peixoto, J.S., Comar, J.F., Moreira, C.T., et al., 2012. 'Effects of Citrus aurantium (Bitter Orange) Fruit Extracts and p-Synephrine on Metabolic Fluxes in the Rat Liver.' Molecules, 17(5), pp.5854. doi: 10.3390/MOLECULES17055854
- Koncz, D., Tóth, B., Bahar, M.A., Roza, O. & Csupor, D., 2022. 'The Safety and Efficacy of Citrus aurantium (Bitter Orange) Extracts and p-Synephrine: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.' Nutrients, 14(19). doi: 10.3390/NU14194019/S1
- Suntar, I., Khan, H., Patel, S., Celano, R. & Rastrelli, L., 2018. 'An Overview on Citrus aurantium L.: Its Functions as Food Ingredient and Therapeutic Agent.' Oxid Med Cell Longev., 2018. doi: 10.1155/2018/7864269