In the herbal weight loss supplement industry, stimulants are the prized ingredient. Stimulants increase heart rate, which in turn increases the number of calories burned by the body. The most common stimulating ingredients include caffeine, green tea, Guarana, and bitter orange extract. The name on the ingredient label, however, may read something completely different.
Alternative Names for Bitter Orange Extract
Bitter orange extract goes by several different names when added to herbal weight loss supplements. These names include Citrus Aurantium, Synephrine, Bergamot Orange, Auraptene, and Oxedrine. All together, there are more than 50 different names for the same ingredient. Even if a dieting consumer were to learn the more common names, ingredients like Green Orange, Citrus Peel Extract, and Sweet Orange all refer to the same stimulant.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Bitter Orange Extract?
According to the Natural Standard, potential side effects of taking herbal weight loss supplements with citrus aurantium include elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and potential interaction with other prescription medications and herbal supplements. The herb has not been proven safe for use during pregnancy as the is case with most stimulants.
Patients suffering from intestinal colic, hypertension, sensitive skin, irregular heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease or illness, or allergy to bitter orange extract should not use herbal weight loss supplements containing the ingredient. Moreover, use of bitter orange extract with alpha blocking agents, monoamine oxidase inhibitors with synephrine, and central nervous system stimulants can greatly increase the risk of hypertension. Taking bitter orange extract with other herbal preparations or supplements can alter the effect of those supplements on the body, which could also be a cause for concern.
Medical Proof Synephrine, Bitter Orange Extract, Is Not a Safe Alternative to Ephedra
In many cases, consumers look at reviews and news stories about herbal weight loss supplements and choose to continue taking the supplement because it may increase energy and cause a drop in weight. These consumers are typically not given medical proof the supplement, or ingredient in this case, can cause very real, life-threatening side effects. The term bitter orange extract is streaked through medical journal with conditions attributed to the ingredient including stroke and myocardial infarction.
In 2009, the Texas Heart Institute Journal reported a case of STEMI (ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction) associated with taking a weight loss supplement with bitter orange and caffeine. The patient was a healthy 24-year-old male.
In April 2005, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported ischemic stroke in a women 38 years old associated with taking an herbal weight loss supplement with bitter orange.
In May 2004, the Annals of Pharmacotherapy reported a potential link between citrus aurantium (bitter orange extract) and cardiovascular events.
In July 2008, Military Medicine published an article claiming vasospasm and stroke associated with bitter orange extract supplementation in a young, otherwise healthy, patient.
Bouchard, NC, MA Howland, HA Greller, RS Hoffman, and LS Nelson. “Ischemic Stroke Associated with Use of an Ephedra-free Dietary Supplement Containing Synephrine.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Apr. 2005. Web. 30 June 2010.
Holmes Jr, RO, and J. Tavee. “Vasospasm and Stroke Attributable to Ephedra-free Xenadrine: Case Report.” Military Medicine. July 2008. Web. 30 June 2010.
Natural Standard, The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Web. 30 June 2010.
Nykamp, DL, NM Fackih, and AL Compton. “Possible Association of Acute Lateral-wall Myocardial Infarction and Bitter Orange Supplement.” Annals of Pharmacotherapy. May 2004. Web. 30 June 2010.
Thomas MD, John E., Jamalah A. Munir MD, Peter Z. McIntyre MD, and Michael A. Ferguson MD. “STEMI in a 24-Year-Old Man after Use of a Synephrine-Containing Dietary Supplement.” Texas Heart Institute Journal. 2009. Web. 30 June 2010.