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Supplements for Weight Loss

Bitter Orange

The bitter orange tree is native to Africa and tropical Asia. It's also grown in the Mediterranean, California, and Florida.

Bitter orange fruit rind contains synephrine, a stimulant related to ephedrine. It supposedly works by raising the number of calories burned.

After the FDA banned weight loss products containing ephedra, many makers switched to bitter orange, but it's not clear if it's safer.

Natural Medicines says that bitter orange is "possibly unsafe" and there's not enough evidence to know if it works for weight loss.

Some studies show bitter orange supplements can raise your blood pressure and heart rate. There have been reports that they may have had dangerous side effects in people who took bitter orange alone or combined with other stimulants such as caffeine. The risks include:

  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Death

The FDA says bitter orange may not be safe to use as a dietary supplement. You should especially avoid it if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure.

You should also avoid bitter orange supplements if you take caffeine, medications (such as MAO inhibitors), or herbs or other supplements that speed up the heart rate.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on January 11, 2016
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