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Bitter orange weight-loss supplements: Do they work?

Medically reviewed on March 3, 2018

While some research suggests that bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) can help with modest weight loss when combined with diet and exercise, it's probably not worth the risk. That's because bitter orange can cause a range of potentially serious health problems. So if you're trying to lose weight, stick to healthier methods and skip the bitter orange.

Bitter orange is an herb made from the bitter orange tree. Bitter orange fruit and peel are often used in weight-loss supplements and supplements sold for a variety of health concerns.

But bitter orange contains synephrine. This is similar to the main chemical in the herbal supplement ephedra (ma-huang), which the Food and Drug Administration banned because of the health problems it caused. Synephrine might speed up your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. Stroke and heart attack have been reported in some people using bitter orange alone or in combination with other stimulants such as caffeine.

Remember, just because an herbal supplement might be natural doesn't mean it's safe. Always check with your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.

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