Omaha, NE—The Journal of Functional Foods (JFF) published an assessment of the adverse event reports (AERS) that were associated with Citrus aurantium, otherwise known as bitter orange.

Bitter orange is a natural ingredient commonly found in dietary supplements and beverages that support healthy weight management and sports nutrition. Bitter orange is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a generally recognized as safe food ingredient.

Despite a recent report published in September 2010 about the dangers of this ingredient in Consumer Reports, the JFF article found that bitter orange was not responsible for the 22 AERS that were reported between April 2004 and October 2009. In addition, 10 clinical case reports were published involving the adverse events that are associated with bitter orange products. After reviewing all these reports, it was determined that the conclusion that bitter orange “p-synephrine are responsible for adverse events presented in these reports is unwarranted and unjustified, based on the poly-herbal, poly-alkaloidal composition of the products involved.” In fact, other ingredients in the product or even health and lifestyle factors could have caused the adverse events.

The Creighton University Medical Center-based researcher based his conclusions on several points: the presence of confounding factors, the report’s lack of detailed information, the strong likelihood that concurrent but independent events occurred, his understanding of dose–response relationships, and the “widespread use” of products that contain bitter orange.

Stated Bob Green, president of Nutratech (a supplier of a patented bitter orange extract), “There is a lot of misinformation about bitter orange that has been perpetuated even by authoritative sources that, for whatever reason, have simply repeated provocative and unconfirmed headlines rather than delve into the extensive research supporting both the safety and efficacy of this tried-and-true ingredient.”


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2011 (online 12/14/10)