Exactly which synephrine alkaloids does Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) contain?

Academic Article


  • Following the withdrawal of ephedrine from the dietary supplement marketplace sales of products containing Citrus aurantium (CA) (bitter orange) for weight loss are believed to have increased dramatically. CA contains a number of constituents speculated to lead to weight loss, of which the most frequently cited constituent is synephrine. Concerns have been raised about the safety of products containing synephrine. To develop an adequate basis for clinical and public health recommendations, it is necessary to understand the nature of the synephrine alkaloids in C4. There are six possible isomers of synephrine (para, meta, ortho; and for each a d or / form). Some authors have stated that CA contains only p-synephrine, whereas other authors have stated that CA contains m-synephrine. This is an important distinction because the two molecules have different pharmacologic properties, which may differentially affect safety and efficacy. We are unable to identify published data that explicitly show whether CA contains p-synephrine, m-synephrine, or both. In this brief report, we show that at least one product purportedly containing synephrine alkaloids from CA contains both p-synephrine and m-synephrine. We believe this justifies further investigation into which synephrine alkaloids are present in CA and products purportedly containing synephrine alkaloids from CA and the relative quantities of each of the different isomers. © 2005 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Allison DB; Cutter G; Poehlman ET; Moore DR; Barnes S
  • Start Page

  • 443
  • End Page

  • 446
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 4