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Citrus aurantium

(Bitter Orange, Seville Orange, Zhi Shi)


Citrus aurantium is a small member of the orange family which produces clementine-sized fruits used for making orange preserves. Various extracts of the fruit rind are often included in weight loss products. C. aurantium peel is a source of synephrine, a stimulant similar to caffeine and ephedrine.

Synephrine is thought to stimulate fat metabolism without the negative cardiovascular side effects experienced by some people with Ma Huang (a source of ephedrine). This is largely based on some experiments carried out using dogs, in which a stimulating effect on brown adipose tissue was found. It should be noted that adult humans do not have ‘brown fat’ cells in any significant number.

In practice, the evidence for synephrine’s weight controlling effect is very thin. Like many similar compounds, the theory sounds good but does not seem to be reflected in the real world. There is also some evidence that it can increase blood pressure, and so may not be quite as ‘safe’ as weight-loss marketing literature often claims.





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