The dried outer peel of the fruit of bitter orange, with the white pulp layer removed, is used medicinally. The leaves are also commonly used in many folk traditions. The bitter orange tree is indigenous to eastern Africa, Arabia, and Syria, and cultivated in Spain, Italy, and North America.
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
3 cups of tea daily, prepared with 1 to 2 grams of dried peel
Bitter orange has traditionally been used as a digestive aid.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Bitter orange is used similarly in a wide variety of traditions. In Mexico and South America the leaf is used as a tonic, as a laxative, as a sedative for insomnia, and to calm frazzled nerves.1, 2 The peel of the fruit is used for stomach aches and high blood pressure.3, 4 The Basque people in Europe use the leaves for stomach aches, insomnia, and palpitations and the bitter orange peel as an anti-spasmodic.5 In traditional Chinese medicine, the peel of the immature fruit is used for indigestion, abdominal pain, constipation, and dysenteric diarrhea. Where the patient is weak, the milder, mature fruit is used similarly.6 Bitter orange continues to be widely used for insomnia and indigestion in many parts of the world.7
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.