Bitter orange is an ingredient that is exceptionally common in over the counter diet pills due to the synephrine that it contains. It is listed under a range of different names, depending on the product that uses it. Other names for this ingredient include citrus aurantium, citrus vulgaris, aurantii pericarpium, aurantium, citrus bigarradia, aurantii fructus, and other various versions of those names.
When it all comes down to it, bitter orange is a type of plant. The fruit, fruit juice, leaf, flower, and peel (and oil from the peel) are all used in various types of natural medicine. Depending on the type of treatment, the medicines based on this ingredient are taken orally or applied directly to the skin.
Oddly, while bitter orange is a common weight loss pill ingredient, it is also known to help increase the appetite. Due to its synephrine content, it is sometimes used to ease nasal congestion and to help overcome chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). That also caused it to become very popular in the over the counter weight loss industry once the FDA banned ephedra in 2004. The reason is because synephrine is a powerful stimulant.
The main problem with bitter orange is that when it is combined with caffeine (which is very commonplace within the weight loss supplement and bodybuilding product markets), it can lead to very high blood pressure and increased heart rate, even in healthy adults whose blood pressure and heart rates are typically normal. The FDA has cautioned dieters against its use because it may place them at a greater risk of cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke. So far, there isn’t any evidence that would indicate that there is any greater safety in using bitter orange than there was in ephedra, which has now been linked to a number of fatalities.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) considers synephrine and bitter orange to be banned substances.
Anyone who is considering the use of a product that contains this ingredient should speak with a healthcare provider, first. This is particularly important if you are taking any other medications or supplements, if you eat or drink any foods or beverages that contain caffeine, or if you have any of a long list of common or uncommon medical conditions.
While this ingredient could be perfectly safe for some dieters to use, there are a large number who will experience side effects of varying severity as a result of its use.