Bitter Orange: A Citrus Fruit with Multiple Uses and Benefits

Citrus Aurantium

Petit Grain (or Bitter Orange) also called “bigaradier” in French is indigenous to Mediterranean countries. It is thought to have been introduced into Europe around the year 1200 by Arab tradesmen and became widely utilized by Italian, Spanish, and French herbalists during the 17th century. One of its essential oils is called “petit grain” in French. The use of Bitter Orange dates back to the earliest history. The ancient Greeks employed it as an antiseptic in aromatherapy and in phytotherapy as a calmant. In cosmetology, it is valued for its fragrance and revitalizing properties.

The bitter orange, native to tropical Asia, has provided food and medicine for thousands of years. Its oil contains flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. Bitter orange juice is rich in vitamin C which helps the immune system. As an infusion, it helps to relieve fever, soothe headaches, and lower fever. It yields neroli oil from its flowers and the oil known as petitgrain from its leaves and young shoots. Both distillates are used extensively in perfumery. Orange flower water is a by-product of distillation and is used in perfumery and to flavor sweets and biscuits, as well as being used medicinally to reduce heart rate and palpitations, to encourage sleep, and to calm the digestive tract.

How Do You Consume?

Bitter oranges, the most well-known of which are the Seville and the Bergamot, are as their name implies, too sour and astringent to eat raw. Instead, they’re cooked in preparations such as Marmalade and Bigarade Sauce. Bitter oranges are also greatly valued for their peel, which is candied, and their essential oils, which are used to flavor foods as well as some liqueurs, such as Curacao. Most of the bitter orange supply comes from Spain.

For thousands of years, immature bitter orange has been used in Chinese Traditional Medicine. An active compound in bitter orange is synephrine, which has thermogenic properties and may heighten the body’s activities.

Drinking sour juice helps the body get rid of waste products and naturally boosts the immune system.

The acidic fruit of Bitter Orange stimulates digestion and relieves gas. An infusion of the fruit works to soothe headaches, calm palpitations, and reduce fevers, coughs, and constipation. It is also used for insomnia and indigestion in many parts of the world. Bitter Orange also helps stimulate the appetite and reduce chest and stomach pain, and vomiting. The peel and the flower are used for headaches and pain. Drinking sour juice helps the body get rid of waste products and naturally boosts the immune system. A tincture of Bitter Orange can be used to help treat shock or insomnia.

Synephrine is used to activate the adrenaline system without the stimulatory effect posed by ephedra-based products. The most likely explanation for weight loss effects attributed to citrus aurantium (synephrine) supplements is the stimulant-like effects of the alkaloids. Although this effect is likely to be somewhat less dramatic than effects induced by Ma Huang (ephedra – also known as Sida Cordifolia), users can expect variable effects including reduced appetite and heightened feelings of energy (similar to caffeine), both of which are likely to result in weight loss.

Supplement promoters have created a new marketing term, “thermogenesis,” which literally means “heat generation.” The idea is that these products alter the metabolism in a way that causes the body to use more energy. The effect is a more energetic you, with accompanying weight loss.

Bitter Orange Safety & Interaction Information – Get it Here

There are no known safety issues or interactions associated with Bitter Orange when taken in the recommended doses; however, frequent contact with Bitter Orange peel can cause skin irritation, including redness, swelling, and blisters. Heightened sensitivity to sunlight may occur in light-skinned individuals. Using Bitter Orange oil internally should be done only under a physician’s supervision. Not intended for use by young children. Safety in pregnant, nursing women or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. If you are being treated for heart disease consult with your physician before taking bitter orange.

Bitter Orange and A Zesty Zing!

Bitter Orange Breakdown: At, we’re all about Bitter Orange! We delve into its health-boosting properties and its role in herbal medicine.

Herbal Highlights: Learn how Bitter Orange can add a zesty zing to your herbal routine. It’s not just a fruit; it’s a wellness wonder!

Culinary Creations: Bitter Orange in the kitchen? Absolutely! We share tangy recipes that bring out the best in Bitter Orange.

Health and Wellness: We’re all about health and wellness, and Bitter Orange is a key part of this mission. It’s packed with compounds that promote good health.

Community Connection: Join our community of Bitter Orange enthusiasts! Share your journey, learn from others, and make some new friends.

So, whether you’re a Bitter Orange buff or just starting your herbal journey, is your trusty companion. Dive in, explore, and stay healthy! Check our home page here!


Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; N.D., Woodland Publishing Incorporated, 1995
The Ultimate Healing System, Course Manual, Copyright 1985, Don Lepore
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., Lotus Press, 1988
Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, by James A. Duke, Pub. CRP Second Edition 2007
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Published by Dorling Kindersley

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