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For the fruit known as "Chinese Bitter Orange," see Trifoliate orange.

The name "bitter orange", also known as Seville orange, sour orange, bigarade orange, and marmalade orange,refers to a citrus tree (Citrus aurantium) and its fruit. Many varieties of bitter oranges are used for their essential oil, which is used in perfume and as a flavoring. Bitter orange is also used in herbal medicine as a stimulant and appetite suppressant, and has replaced the banned stimulant ephedra in many herbal weight-loss products.


Uses in cooking

The unripe fruit called "narthangai" is commonly used in Southern Indian food, especially in Tamil cuisine. The unripe fruit is pickled by cutting it into spirals and stuffing it with salt. The pickle is usually consumed with thayir sadam. The fresh fruit is also used frequently in pachadis.The juice from the ripe fruit is also used as a marinade in meat in Cuban and Dominican cooking.The peel can also become an ingredient in bitters.The Belgian Witbier (white beer) is a beer made from wheat which is spiced with the peel of the bitter orange.The Finnish and Swedish use bitter orange peel in gingerbread(Pepparkakor), also in mämmi. It's also used in the Nordic mulled wine glögg.

Health supplement status

The extract of bitter orange (and bitter orange peel) has been used in dietary supplements as an aid to fat loss and as an appetite suppressant, although in traditional Chinese medicine it is always prescribed in concert with other support herbs, not in isolation. Bitter orange contains synephrine, a substance similar to ephedrine, which acts on the α1 adrenergic receptor to constrict blood vessels and increase blood pressure and heart rate.

Following bans on the herbal stimulant ephedra in the U.S.marker, Canadamarker, and elsewhere, bitter orange has been substituted into "ephedra-free" herbal weight-loss products by dietary supplement manufacturers. While bitter orange has not undergone formal safety testing, it can cause the same spectrum of adverse events as ephedra. Case reports have linked bitter orange supplements to strokes, angina, and ischemic colitis.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that "there is currently little evidence that bitter orange is safer to use than ephedra." There is no evidence that bitter orange is effective in promoting weight loss.

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