Citrus aurantium, also known as bitter orange, sour orange and Seville orange comes from a tree that is native to Asia and the Mediterranean. For hundreds of years, it is widely used as a medicinal supplement for constipation, stomach pain and cramps in the areas where they abundantly grow.
In recent years, citrus aurantium extract which comes from the fruit peel has become a popular ingredient in weight-loss supplements. You can also purchase pure citrus aurantium extract in tablet and powder forms.
Moreover, powdered extracts of the dried and immature fruit or peel of citrus aurantium are also gaining in popularity as an alternative to ephedra in many dietary supplements.
The FDA banned the sale of supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids due to safety concerns. As a result, many diet and weight loss supplement manufacturers now offer ephedra-free products which contain bitter orange extract.
Since bitter orange extract also contains sympathomimetic, the safety and efficacy of these products are closely monitored.
How does citrus aurantium help with weight loss?
Citrus aurantium contains synephrine, an active ingredient that supports weight loss by doing the following functions:
- Works as an appetite suppressant
- Increases the body’s metabolic and heart rate
- Helps lower the sugar level in the blood
- Helps mobilize fat cells into the bloodstream
- Improves exercise performance
- Increases the thermic effect of food, allowing the body to burn calories after eating
It was thought that citrus aurantium extract is only effective in weight loss if combined with caffeine and other herbs. For instance, since citrus aurantium mobilizes fat cells in the body, combining it with fat burners such as cayenne pepper and L-carnitine can increase the body’s ability to burn and discharge excess fat.
Does citrus aurantium actually help you lose weight?
Theoretically, citrus aurantium supports certain body functions as listed above that can ultimately result in weight loss. However, more studies are needed to support some of these claims.
According to WebMD, the effect of citrus aurantium on exercise performance are conflicting. Some research shows that if taken with caffeine, it can improve your performance during squat exercises. On the other hand, other research shows that taking this ingredient alone or with certain pre-workout supplements before exercise does not have any effect on weight-lifting ability, cycle or sprint performance in healthy adults.
In a study conducted on 23 participants to check the safety and efficacy of citrus aurantium for weight loss, it showed that those receiving a mixture that contains citrus aurantium lost an average of 1.4 kg in six weeks or a 1.5% change. Participants who received the placebo mixture lost an average of 0.9 kg which is a 1.1% change. On the other hand, the participants who were in the no-placebo control group were able to lose an average of 0.4 kg or 0.5% change in their weight.
In 2012, a review of studies found out that citrus aurantium supplements (whether used on their own or as part of the ingredients) can significantly increase the resting metabolic rate (RMR). Higher metabolic rate helps with weight loss.
Moreover, WebMD states that the effects of citrus aurantium on weight is not clear. Some research suggests that combining it with caffeine and St. John’s wort may help in weight reduction if also combined with a low-calorie diet and exercise.
Also, taking certain products that are combined with raspberry ketone, capsaicin, garlic, caffeine, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and chromium, coupled with regular exercise and proper diet for eight weeks seems to improve your energy and weight.
However, another study showed that a combination of citrus aurantium with other ingredients did not help the participants lose weight.
Other health benefits of citrus aurantium supplements
Citrus aurantium extracts, oil and supplements also offer other health benefits including:
In the traditional Chinese medicine, bitter orange is popularly used for digestive disorder for more than 2,000 years. The Amazonian natives also use it for the same purpose.
Fighting fungal skin infections
In the pharmaceutical industries, many products for antifungal activities contain citrus aurantium extract or oil. As it is rich in vitamin C, it is believed to be effective in preventing superficial fungal infections.
There is a limited evidence supporting the efficacy of citrus aurantium for treating diabetes. In one study conducted in Nigeria, it showed that the essential oil from the citrus plant inhibits the α-amylase and α-glucosidase enzymes, both of which are linked to diabetes.
Other health benefits
Citrus aurantium is also thought to help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of the following conditions, but subject to further studies:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Eye swelling
- Intestinal gas and ulcers
- Liver and gallbladder issues
- Nasal congestion
- Nerve and muscle pain
- Stomach and intestinal upset
For medicinal purposes, citrus aurantium is typically available in tablet, gelcap or extract. The recommended dosage depends on the ailments you are using it for.
For weight loss, the dosage also varies from one product to another. It’s always best to check the label for the proper dosage.
Food products containing citrus aurantium is likely safe for children and adults. It is also possibly safe if applied to the skin or used as aromatherapy. However, when taken as a supplement for weight loss, it may have side effects to some people including:
- Light headedness
- Increased heart rate
- Increase blood pressure
- Sun sensitivity
Special precaution and warning are also needed if you have or are taking medication for the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Pregnant and nursing
- Scheduled to undergo surgery
Is Citrus aurantium worth trying?
Further studies are needed to prove the benefits of citrus aurantium for weight loss. However, if mixed with other ingredients, it may be effective as there are a number of weight loss supplements containing this ingredient that really works.
Citrus aurantium may have certain effects for weight loss as some studies show. However, if you will rely mainly on this extract to lose weight, you should think twice before doing it.
You may find it more beneficial if you use a supplement that has it as one of the ingredients rather than using a pure extract to lose weight.
More importantly, always consider the side effects and safety precautions that come with citrus aurantium.
For more information on weight loss supplements read Weight Loss Pills That Really Work