Body weight is one of the most basic issues of human life. Self-esteem, acceptance among peers– and perhaps lifelong success or failure—are, unfortunately, all tied to our physical appearance. Medically speaking, not all overweight people are obese. Obesity is defined as weight that exceeds 15 percent of normal weight for height and body type. “Morbid” obesity exceeds 20 percent of optimum weight. An obese or overweight person is at high risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, varicose veins, dementia, psychological stress, depression, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The detrimental health effects of obesity are more than just a matter of weighing too much. Body composition–the amount of fat in the body compared to the amount of lean muscle–is also important. Body weight and composition are to a large degree determined by the “basal metabolic rate” (BMR), the amount of energy the body burns while at rest. Exercise builds lean muscle. As the ratio of lean muscle to body fat increases, so does the BMR. The higher our BMR, the more calories we burn.
Bitter orange refers to a citrus tree (citrus aurantium) and its fruit. Many varieties of bitter orange are utilized for their essential oil, which is used in perfume and as a flavoring. Bitter orange is also employed in herbal medicine as a stimulant and appetite suppressant. Slivers of the rind are used to give marmalade its characteristic bitter taste.
Researchers from Creighton University Health Sciences Center, Omaha Nebraska investigated the potential of p-synephrine (primary protoalkoloid of bitter orange extract) alone, or p-synephrine plus naringin, or p-synephrine plus naringin and hesperidin, compared to placebo, on the metabolic rate of 50 volunteers. Results of this double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial showed that p-synephrine alone increased the metabolic rate by 7 percent in comparison to placebo. When 50mg of p-synephrine was consumed with 600 mg naringin and 100 mg hesperidin the metabolic rate was almost 18 percent higher than the control group. None of the participants in any of the treatment groups exhibited changes in heart rate or blood pressure relative to the control group and there were no differences in self-reported mood changes between the treatment groups and the control group. In conclusion the authors stated “This unusual finding of a thermogenic combination of ingredients that elevated metabolic rates without corresponding elevations in blood pressure and heart-rates warrants longer term studies to assess its value as a weight control agent.