Bitter orange oil may possibly cause light sensitivity (photosensitivity), especially in fair-skinned individuals.23 Generally this occurs only if the oil is applied directly to the skin and then exposed to bright light; in rare cases it has also been known to occur in people who have taken bitter orange internally. The oil should not be applied topically and anyone who uses it internally should avoid bright light, including tanning booths.
Internal use of the volatile oil of bitter orange is also potentially unsafe and should not be undertaken without expert guidance. Large amounts of orange peel have caused intestinal colic, convulsions, and death in children.24 The amounts recommended above for internal use should not be exceeded.
One text on Chinese medicine cautions against the use of bitter orange in pregnancy.25 This concern is not raised in any other reference, and the American Herbal Products Association classifies the herb as "class 1," an herb that can be safely consumed during pregnancy when used appropriately.26
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.