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Bitter Orange - Ephedra in Disguise ? So Why Do People Still Take It ?
by: Jenny Mathers
The facts about Bitter Orange are out. More research is being called for, but for the most part this is what we know so far:
1. Bitter Orange has been shown in some studies to be associated with weight loss, increased thermogenesis, metabolism and loss of fat mass. The results of some of these studies are questioned by some authorities;
2. Documented reports are starting to come in of cardiovascular events occurring associated with the use of products containing bitter orange (citrus aurantium, zhi-shi or whatever you want to call it);
3. The two major components of bitter orange are synephrine and octopomine. Synephrine is structurally similar to the ephedra extract which is now banned in many countries due to its adverse side effects and synephrine has been shown to cause cardiovascular events in animals.
So why are people still using it. It is easy to make the conclusion that they are unaware of it's ingredients and their effects, however, this is perhaps naive. Some people that take these types of fat burners are aware of the possible adverse effects that they may have on their bodies, however, sometimes go from one fat burner to the other, trying the different concoctions of herbs - hoping that it will cause rapid weight loss.
While the motivation for purchasing fat burning herbal products is obviously to lose weight - there is an extra pressure to lose weight fast, which is what these fat burners offer to their customers who may in some cases be grossly overweight and in risk categories for heart problems in the first place due to obesity issues. Fast weight loss is hardly ever permanent weight loss and never healthy weight loss.
There seems to be a common misconception that it is not as bad as ephedra. Over the past six years Health Canada received 16 reports of serious side effects involving tachycardia, cardiac arrest and black outs after products containing bitter orange were taken. Two of the patients concerned in these reports had died and had taken a combination of herbal supplements containing bitter orange, caffeine and ephedra. While 16 reports over six years does not sound like a whole heck of alot - these are only those from Canada, and are only those that were able to be linked to the herbal supplements.
It is plain that this perceived "need" for herbal preparations containing either bitter orange or ephedra is an emotional one. In some cases some people are so desperate to get rid of their excess weight, and have tried just about every diet under the sun and have battled with it for years, with no good success and then finally found these products that quite obviously do have an effect - but unfortunately do have significant side effects, even if it is just jitteriness.
So what's the answer, well, there is no easy answer. The truth is that no fat burner should make you jittery. Weight loss, can be achieved without products containing bitter orange and those with persistent weight issues need to be consulting a doctor or dietition. In the end, it will probably end up costing less in the long run.
1. Preuss HG, DiFerdinando D, Bagchi M, Bagchi D. Citrus Aurantium as a thermogenic, weight-reduction replacement for ephedra: an overview J Med. 2002;33(1-4):247-64.
2. Fugh-Berman A, Myers A. Citrus aurantium, an ingredient of dietary supplements marketed for weight loss: current status of clinical and basic research. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2004 Sep;229(8):698-704.
3. Nykamp DL, Fackih MN, Compton AL. Possible association of acute lateral-wall myocardial infarction and bitter orange supplement. Ann Pharmacother. 2004 May;38(5):812-6. Epub 2004 Mar 16.
4. Penzak, S R : Jann, M W : Cold, J A : Hon, Y Y : Desai, H D : Gurley, B J Seville (sour) orange juice: synephrine content and cardiovascular effects in normotensive adults J-nat-prod. Washington, D.C. : American Society of Pharmacognosy. Jan 2001. v. 64 (1) p. 111-113.
5. Healthboards.com Feel jittery - Xenadrine EFX http://www.healthboards.com/boards/archive/index.php/t-111077.html
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