Bitter orange refers to a citrus fruit whose scientific name is citrus uranium. This fruit was indigenously cultivated mainly in Arabia, Eastern Africa, and Syria. It is believed to offer various medicinal benefits to its users when the outer dried peel of the fruit is administered or extracting its essential oils. The bitter orange fruit is known to have a complex makeup that is found in its volatile oil found in its peel which is the source of the bitterness, the strong smell and flavor. The peel has other properties besides the volatile oil; alkaloids synephrine, flavones, octopamine, carotenoids and methyltyramine.
Health Benefits of Bitter Orange
Although clinical data is limited in regard to the bitter orange fruit, the pharmacological actions of the fruit are believed to be effective for the following;
- Acts as an inflammatory
- An antibacterial
- Antifungal agent
- As a vascular stimulant
Uses of Bitter Orange
- Air freshener: The extracted water is used as an air fresher traditionally and is very effective in neutralizing odor.
- Food and beverages: Bitter orange water is used in cocktail, cakes and the oil from the peel used as an ice cream, candies, puddings and gelatins flavor or seasoning. Bitter orange fruit is commonly used to make marmalades and liqueurs as well.
- Weight loss: the bitter orange extract is used in many weight loss regimes since its acts as an appetite reducer due to an alkaloid property found in the fruit known as synephrine.
- Skin benefits: the astringent properties of the bitter orange soaks up excess sebum from the skin thus enhancing a balanced distribution of the skin oil which is beneficial to acne prone skin types. Bitter orange is considered ideal because it doesn’t strip the skin like the synthetic formulas in the market. Its antibacterial and inflammatory properties also make it suited for such skins since it will also reduce the redness and irritation. The bitter orange is also considered effective in ridding oneself of fungal infections like ringworms and athletes foot if applied directly on the affected spots. Bitter orange tea bags can also be applied directly to the eyes to get rid of bags under the eyes.
- Digestive aid: traditionally the Chinese made use of extracts from this fruit to calm upset stomachs and its flower together with the plant oil used for gastrointestinal issues. The issues can range from diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, intestinal gas and even bloody stool. Further to this, the extracts are believed to aid in kidney, bladder issues, and gall bladder and liver disorders.
- Aromatherapy: the essential oils of this fruit can be inhaled to relieve pain while providing therapy to the user.
- Vascular system: the bitter orange extracts are believed to regulate fat levels within a person’s vascular system while lowering the blood glucose levels in persons suffering from diabetes. Its cleansing qualities, ensures a pure circulation of blood and aids those with a lower blood pressure level leaving them energized.
- Nasal decongestant: traditionally bitter orange is used as a nasal decongestant when the fruit is added to boiled or steaming water and the steam inhaled.
- Manufacture; a number of manufacturers use the bitter lemon extracts in the formulation of products such as soaps, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Bitter Orange Dosages
There is no formal research regarding the dosages that can be effective or detrimental for consumers of bitter orange fruit. Thus the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed in gaining direction on usage.
Bitter Orange Side Effects
When the fruit is used in food, it is presumably safe to both adults and children. However, when being used as a supplement caution should be taken especially for weight loss regimes since it can heighten one’s blood pressure and heart rate which can result into further complications. Besides its use as a skin remedy can cause the skin to become sensitive and can get damaged by the sun if precautions such as sunscreen and covering garments are not used. There are several researches which have differing opinion on whether bitter orange is safe diabetes, but certain it can increase high blood pressure in previously normal persons. On the same note, it has been said to aggravate glaucoma and heart diseases further and definitely a no when going for surgery due to an increased heart rate effect.