A review of the receptor-binding properties of p-synephrine as related to its pharmacological effects

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2011;2011:482973. doi: 10.1155/2011/482973. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) extract and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine are used widely in weight loss/weight management and sports performance products. Because of structural similarities, the pharmacological effects of p-synephrine are widely assumed to be similar to those of ephedrine, m-synephrine (phenylephrine), and endogenous amine neurotransmitters as norepinephrine and epinephrine. However, small structural changes result in the receptor binding characteristics of these amines that are markedly different, providing a plausible explanation for the paucity of adverse effects associated with the wide-spread consumption of p-synephrine in the form of dietary supplements as well as in various Citrus foods and juices. This paper summarizes the adrenoreceptor binding characteristics of p-synephrine relative to m-synephrine, norepinephrine, and other amines as related to the observed pharmacological effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Citrus / chemistry
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Norepinephrine / chemistry
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism
  • Synephrine / chemistry
  • Synephrine / metabolism*
  • Synephrine / pharmacology*


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Synephrine
  • Norepinephrine