May 5, 2016

Bitter Orange

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How does Bitter Orange work?

Bitter orange has many chemicals that affect the nervous system. The concentration and effect of these chemicals can change depending on the part of the plant and the method used for preparation. These chemicals can squeeze blood vessels, increase blood pressure, and cause the heart to beat faster.

Are there safety concerns?

Bitter orange is LIKELY SAFE for children and adults when taken in the amounts found in food. Bitter orange essential oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin or inhaled as aromatherapy.

But bitter orange is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken as a supplement for a medical purpose such as weight loss. Bitter orange, particularly when taken with stimulants such as caffeine or caffeine-containing herbs, increases the risk for high blood pressure, fainting, heart attack, stroke, and other severe side effects.

There are reports that bitter orange can trigger headaches, including migraine and cluster headaches, in some people.

Bitter orange can cause sensitivity to the sun. Wear sunblock outside, especially if you are light-skinned.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Bitter orange is LIKELY SAFE during pregnancy when used in the amounts found in food. However, it is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used in medicinal amounts. The effects of bitter orange on breast-feeding infants aren't known. Stay on the safe side and avoid using bitter orange during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Diabetes: Some evidence suggests that bitter orange may interfere with blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Use with caution and monitor blood sugar levels closely.

High blood pressure: Some studies suggest that bitter orange, especially in combination with caffeine, can increase blood pressure in healthy people. Other studies have found no such blood pressure elevation. To date, there haven't been any studies looking at the effect of bitter orange on blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure. Don't take a chance. Avoid using bitter orange, especially in combination with stimulants such as caffeine, if you have high blood pressure.

Glaucoma: Bitter orange might worsen glaucoma. Avoid using it if you have this condition.

Heart disease: Using bitter orange, especially in combination with caffeine or other stimulants, might increase the risk of serious side effects in people with a particular heart problem called "long QT interval syndrome" (named after the wave pattern made by a electrocardiogram).

Irregular heartbeat (heart arrhythmia): Some studies suggest that bitter orange, especially in combination with caffeine, can increase heart rate in healthy people. Other studies have found no such effect on heart rate. So far, there have been no studies of the effect of bitter orange on people who have an irregular heartbeat. Avoid using bitter orange, especially in combination with stimulants such as caffeine, if you have an irregular heartbeat.

Surgery: Bitter orange acts like a stimulant, so it might interfere with surgery by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Stop taking bitter orange at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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