Bitter orange refers to a citrus tree and the fruit that it produces. Many types of bitter oranges are used for essential oil, which is used in both perfume and in flavoring. Bitter orange is also used in herbal medicine as both a stimulant and an appetite suppressant. It is responsible for replacing ephedra, the banned stimulant that was once used in many herbal weight-loss products. Bitter orange also goes by the names sour orange, bigarade orange, and Seville orange. The bitter orange plant is native to northeastern India. However, it is also grown in southern Europe, southern China, and the United States. The flesh of the orange fruit is both bitter and sour.
The unripe bitter orange fruit is referred to as the narthangai, which is commonly used in Southern Indian food. This is especially true of Tamil cusine. The unripe fruit can be pickled by cutting it into spirals and stuffing it salt. The fresh fruit is used frequently in pachadis, while the juice from the ripe fruit is used as a marinade for meat in Cuban cooking. The peel of the bitter orange fruit can also become an ingredient in bitters, while the Belgian Witbier is a beer made from wheat that is spiced with the peel of bitter orange. The bitter orange peel is also used by the Finnish in their gingerbread preparations and by the Nordic in their mulled wine.
Bitter orange was used in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic and also a remedy for dyspepsia. Additionally, it was used to relieve abdominal distension and diarrhea and for blood in the stool. In Europe, bitter orange flowers and oil have been recommended to be used as a sedative and as a remedy for gastrointestinal ailments, nervous conditions, gout, insomnia, and sore throat. This plant has been used for other conditions such as toxic and anaphylactic shock, cancer, and cardiac conditions. Bitter orange has also been used by Brazilians as an anticonvulsant for anxiety and insomnia.
Now, the extract of bitter orange is most often used in dietary supplements as an aid to fat loss and as an appetite suppressant. After the implication of ephedra was discovered in cardiac events in some consumers, the Food and Drug administration banned the sale of any dietary supplement which contained that herb in 2004. Because of this, many supplement makers have altered their weight-loss products so that they offer ephedra-free formulas which contain bitter orange extract instead. The safety of these products is being monitored due to the synephrine content in bitter orange.
The fruit of the bitter orange plant is used to provide antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflamamtory, antispasmodic, cholagogue, demulcent, sedative, tonic, tranquilizer, and vascular stimulant properties. The primary nutrients found in this extract include flavanones, octopamine, synephrine, and tyramine. Primarily, bitter orange has been shown to be effective in dealing with anxiety, cancer, cardiac conditions, dyspepsia, gastrointestinal issues, gout, insomnia, nervous conditions, shock, and sore throat. For more information on the beneficial effects of bitter orange fruit, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
Bitter orange is available in capsule of tablet forms at your local or internet health food store. Always look for name brands preferably products that are standardized to ensure the active ingredients are in each server.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Bitter melon is not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.