Bitter Orange

Citrus aurnatium common name: chih-shih

bitter orange Bitter orange contains synephrine, which has decongestant effects on the respiratory system and digestive system. Used in Chinese herbal medicine it stimulates GI functions. Available from Asian markets and Chinese pharmacies, it is best usecd as a tea.

Laboratory tests in Korea have demonstrated that bitter orange may kill rotovirus, which is responsible for infant diarrhea.

In recent years, it has be substituted in herbal weight loss remedies for ephedra. There are claims that it can help with weight loss, however the evidence is scanty. If you recall, ephedtra causes increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. Apparently bitter orange can have the same effects. It has three different metabolites similar to epinephrine: synephrine, N-methyltyramine and octopamine.

It also has the ability to constrict arteries in the nose to counteract allergic reactions.

Benefits In Medical Conditions

  • Anemia. Contains Vitamin C which may provide an acidic environment for iron to be absorped.
  • Low blood pressure. Synephrine affects nerves in femoral arteries gently constricting to shunt blood to the heart and lungs. At the same time, the heart beats more forcefully sending blood to the brain.
  • Indigestion. Relieves nausea and soothes stomach disturbances including gas and bloating.
  • Liver cancer. Contains monoterpenes which help prevent liver tumors.
  • Overweight.Increases resting metabolic rate, increases the rate at which fat is released from stores and metabolized. Effect is somewhat controversial and needs clinical studies.

Considerations In Use

This herb acts on the uterus in addition to the intestines. In small doses it inhibits contractions, while in large doses it promots contractions, therefore it should not be used in pregnancy.

Do not use this herb with pain killers such as codeine as the combination can cause irregular heart rate adn high blood pressure.

Over time, use will cause the skin to become sensative to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburns. This is especially true if you are fair skinned.

Although Bitter Orange has not been banned by the FDA, there are case reports of people suffering chest pain and angina, stroke and ischemic colitis.

NOTE: This supplement interacts with the "statins" used for lowering cholesterol. Find more herbs at the herb dictionary online.

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