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Bitter Orange – (Citrus vulgaris)

Bitter Orange

Also known as the Seville orange, bitter orange is a tree with shiny green leaves and white blossoms with a delightful fragrance that are followed by the formation of oranges. Oranges are eaten all over the world and used in many different forms but as with many common household fruit trees, it is not widely known that this has many and varied uses in modern herbal remedies. Despite its many uses, caution still needs to be excericed in its use.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Bitter orange is used in Traditional Chinese medicine to treat constipation, nausea and indigestion. The most common herbal remedy uses today include nasal congestion, loss of appetite, heartburn and weight loss. It can treat heartburn and flatulence as well as diarrhea. The peel stimulates the appetite. Unripe fruit is also helpful for bloating.

Externally – Bitter orange can be applied to the skin to combat ringworm and athlete's foot.

Other Uses – Bitter orange is used to make essential oils. Neroli oil is distilled from the flowers and the leaves and twigs make Petitgrain oil. Bergamot oil comes from the peeling. Neroli oil calms and lifts the mood. It relieves depression, anxiety and shock. It can help reduce muscle spasms and diarrhea as well as help with premenstrual difficulties. It is considered an aphrodisiac.

It can help heal broken capillaries on the skin. Petitgrain oil can calm anger and panic. It is relaxing and calms a racing heart. It tones the skin and clears up pimples and other blemishes. Bergamot oil aids depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and aids confidence. It is antiseptic and helps acne, oily skin, eczema and psoriasis. It can be used on chicken pox, cold sores and wounds. Bergamot stimulates the stomach, spleen and liver. It helps urinary tract infections and inflammations. It is also used in cosmetics.

Parts Used

Mainly Peel & Fruit – The peels and fruit are dried and put into extracts, tablets and capsules. Sometimes the leaves, stems and flowers are used as well.


Bitter orange may speed the heart rate or raise blood pressure. Some people have experienced stroke, heart attack or fainting after taking orange supplements by themselves or combined with caffeine. People with heart conditions should avoid this herb. If they take MAO inhibitors, caffeine or other stimulating herbs, it should be avoided. Pregnant women should use caution, since there is no data on the safety of bitter orange supplements during pregnancy. When applied to the skin, the herb may increase the chance of sunburn.

Preparation and Dosage

Bitter orange is easily found as a commercial supplement. When taking as a supplement, follow the instructions on the label carefully or follow the dose prescribed by your care provider.

Bitter Orange Herbal Remedies Top