Health Benefits of Bitter Orange

Health Benefits of Bitter Orange

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  1. For centuries, bitter orange has been valued for its food and medicinal properties. Today it is used in variety of items such as food, cosmetics and in aromatherapy. However, the volatile oil found in the peel is the reason for its many health enhancing effects. It is also what gives bitter orange its strong flavor and odor. Native to eastern Africa and tropical Asia, today bitter orange is grown throughout the Mediterranean region and can also be found as far away as California and Florida.

    Most Common Uses

    Most commonly bitter orange is used to promote good gastrointestinal health. It is used in Latin America to treat nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. In ancient China zhi shi was made from unripened bitter oranges and then used to treat constipation. Eating the dried peels of the bitter orange is known to provide relief for heartburn.  

    You can also prepare a bitter orange tea as a cure for digestive problems. Typically, you would drink a cup three times a day.  However, you should only use bitter orange oil externally. It should never be ingested or taken internally.

    Skin Treatments

    You can also use bitter orange as a treatment for athlete’s foot and ringworm. Bitter orange oil or tea is applied directly to the infection site. However, if you are using bitter orange oil, it is best to avoid sunlight. Bitter orange oil has been known to cause light sensitivity especially in fair skin people.

    Folk Medicine vs. Science

    For centuries, bitter orange has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, folk medicine, and homeopathy. In each of these it is used to treat everything from heartburn to insomnia to weight loss. While ancient medicine makes many claims to the health benefits of bitter orange, science tends to disagree. Very little evidence has been found to actually prove the health benefits of taking bitter orange. Since bitter orange is used in many herbal supplements, many people fail to realize taking bitter orange in excess can have serious side effects.

    Potential Health Risks

    Bitter orange contains synephrine which is known to cause hypertension and cardiovascular toxicity. Overexposure to bitter orange oil or peel can also cause serious skin reactions including sensitivity to the sun, blisters and pigment spots. If given in sufficient quantity to children, bitter orange has been known to cause intestinal colic and seizures.

    In small doses, bitter orange can help to improve one’s health. Loaded with vitamin C, it can even aid in increasing the iron absorption of the blood, extremely helpful for anemia sufferers. However, taken in large doses bitter orange can have some very damaging side effects especially when combined with other medications. It is important you tell your doctor if you are taking bitter orange as a herbal supplement. It is known to cause adverse side effects in people who are taking ulcer, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications.

    As with all fruits, bitter orange does have some added health benefits. It is up to you to educate yourself on how to use it properly. By using bitter orange appropriately, you will be able to get the maximum health benefits from its use. Thus, allowing you to avoid the more serious and potenially fatal health risks.

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