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What is Citrus aurantium Used for Today?
Citrus aurantiumjuice and peel contain the stimulant chemical synephrine as well as related stimulants such as octopamine, tyramine, N-methyltyramine, and hordeline. On this basis, Citrus aurantiumhas been widely marketed as a weight-loss product . However, there is no reliable evidence that Citrus aurantiumis effective, and considerable reason to worry that it may cause harm (see Safety Issues ). The reassuring statement made by some manufacturers that Citrus aurantiumoffers the “benefits of ephedra without the risks” is not supported by scientific evidence.
The only published double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on Citrus aurantiumjuice did not test the herb alone, but rather evaluated a combination product that also contained caffeine and St. John's wort . 1 While the results were somewhat positive, overall the study was too preliminary to reach reliable conclusions. An even less reliable study evaluated the synephrine constituent of Citrus aurantiumand found possible “fat burning” actions. 2 In view of the weakness of the evidence in favor of Citrus aurantium, and the considerable evidence that it presents health risks, we recommend against using it for weight loss.
Other evidence, far too weak to rely upon at all, hints that synephrine-rich Citrus aurantiumextracts might have antidepressant effects . 3 Besides synephrine and other stimulants, whole Citrus aurantiumpeel contains including citral, limonene, and several citrus bioflavonoids , including hesperidin, neohesperidin, naringin, and rutin. Weak evidence hints that these substances might have cancer-preventive 4 and antiviral actions. 5 The essential oil of Citrus aurantiumcontains linalool and the fragrant substance limonene and might have antianxiety and sedative effects. 6 However, neither of these proposed uses has more than extremely preliminary supporting evidence.
- Colker CM, Kalman DS, Torina GC, et al. Effects of Citrus aurantium extract, caffeine, and St. John's wort on body fat loss, lipid levels, and mood states in overweight healthy adults. Curr Ther Res. 1999;60:145–153.
- Hedrei P, Gougeon R. Thermogenic effect of beta-sympathicomimetic compounds extracted from Citrus aurantium. McGill Nutrition and Food Science Center, Royal Victoria Hospital. 1997.
- Kim KW, Kim HD, Jung JS, Woo RS, Kim HS, Suh HW, Kim YH, Song DK. Characterization of antidepressant-like effects of p-synephrine stereoisomers. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 364(1):21-6.
- Miyazawa M, Okuno Y, Fukuyama M, Nakamura S, Kosaka H. Antimutagenic activity of polymethoxyflavonoids from Citrus aurantium. J Agric Food Chem. 1999;47:5239-44.
- Kim DH, Song MJ, Bae EA, Han MJ. Inhibitory effect of herbal medicines on rotavirus infectivity. Biol Pharm Bull. 23(3):356-8.
- Carvalho-Freitas MI, Costa M. Anxiolytic and sedative effects of extracts and essential oil from Citrus aurantium L. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002;25:1629–33.