bergamot to fight high cholesterol
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Elevated and abnormal blood cholesterol level, also called as dyslipidemia, is a risk factor for various cardiovascular (heart-related) disorders. It thus becomes mandatory to manage and maintain a healthy lipid profile to prevent such complications and keep your heart fighting fit.1 Statins are the standard medications prescribed to treat dyslipidemia and reduce risk of heart disease by several different mechanisms; however, they pose various side-effects such as muscle pain and abnormal liver function.2,3 Due to these reasons, nutritional supplements are growing popular in the management of elevated lipid levels.

What is Bergamot?

Bergamot is a bitter citrus fruit that has powerful antioxidants called flavonoids.6 It belongs to the family Rutaceae and is a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange. The trees have dark green leaves, white starflower and round yellow fruits. 8

The fruit is used for its essential oil which can further be used in cosmetics, perfumes and food.7 Essential oils are naturally derived substances that have antioxidant and inflammatory activities.4 From 3,000 varieties of essential oils available, 10% are used as medications, fragrances, food ingredients, etc.5 Initially, the essential oil of bergamot was used for its antibacterial and antiseptic action. It was later found that it may also have effects on serum lipid levels.9

How does Bergamot help in treating dyslipidemia?

Bergamot not only lowers lipid levels but also helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure.10 It produces effects similar to that of statins.11

A recent six-month clinical study identified that bergamot significantly reduced plasma lipids in 80 patients and improved lipoprotein levels in a short six-month period without causing any side-effects.12 This aromatic oil may be considered as a vital alternative for patients who are intolerant to statins due to side-effects.9 As reported in an article from Cleveland, researchers in Italy found that bergamot is useful in reducing statin doses.6

Another study by Mollace et al. involving 237 patients found a significant reduction in serum cholesterol among patients receiving bergamot for 30 days when compared with a placebo group. The study also identified that patients with statin intolerance or patients experiencing side-effects due to statins showed a significant decrease in low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.2 Bergamot may help reduce LDL up to 20%.12

Now that’s seriously impressive!

Rosuvastatin is a medication that belongs to the group of statins. Gliozzi et al. found that the addition of bergamot to rosuvastatin therapy was useful in not only enhancing the effects of the medicine and but also in reducing its daily doses.13 So far, no side-effects associated with bergamot for cardiovascular use have been observed or studied.14

Many clinical studies have proven the efficacy of bergamot in reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol levels.8-12 Therefore it may help to use bergamot as an additional supplement in treating dyslipidemia. The essential oil for this fruit is mostly marketed in the form of capsules.13

Before consuming any bergamot supplement, do talk to your physician first; he will determine the appropriate dose and duration of this therapy. Take this supplement only as directed by the physician. Bergamot might just be the answer to your cholesterol problems; for everything else, there is Mastercard!

References:

  1. Cappello AR, Dolce V, Iacopetta D, Martello M, Fiorillo M, Curcio R et al. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia Risso) flavonoids and their potential benefits in human hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis: an overview. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2016 [cited 1 May 2016];16(8):619-29. doi:10.2174/1389557515666150709110222
  2. Mollace V, Sacco I, Janda E, Malara C, Ventrice D, Colica C, et al. Hypolipemic and hypoglycaemic activity of bergamot polyphenols: from animal models to human studies. Fitoterapia [Internet]. 2011;82(3):309-16. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fitote.2010.10.014
  3. Clark LT. Treating dyslipidemia with statins: the risk-benefit profile. Am. Heart J. 2003;145(3): 387-96. doi:10.1067/mhj.2003.70
  4. Miguel MG. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils: a short review. Molecules. 2010;9:252-87. doi:10.3390/molecules15129252
  5. Bakkali F, Averbeck S, Averbeck D, Idaomar M. Biological effects of essential oils – a review. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46(2):446-75.doi:10.1016/j.fct.2007.09.106
  6. Bergamot extract may lower your cholesterol [Internet]. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. 2015 [cited 11 December 2019]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/bergamot-may-lower-your-cholesterol/
  7. Visioli F, Poli A. Prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis : the use of nutraceuticals and functional foods. doi:10.1007/164_2019_341
  8. Navarra M, Mannucci C, Delbò M, Calapai G. Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application. Front Pharmacol . 2015;6: 1–7. doi:10.3389/fphar.2015.00036
  9. Ciccone MM, Zito A, Cortese F, Cecere A, Moncelli M, Gesualdo M, et al. Bergamot polyphenols: a phytotherapeutic approach to hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia control. Pharmacologia. 2015;6(4):120-4. doi:10.5567/pharmacologia.2015.120.124
  10. Musolino V, Gliozzi M, Nucera S, Carresi C, Maiuolo J, Mollace R, et al. The effect of bergamot polyphenolic fraction on lipid transfer protein system and vascular oxidative stress in a rat model of hyperlipemia. Lipids Health Dis. 2019;18(1):1-8. doi:10.1186/s12944-019-1061-0
  11. Leopoldini M, Malaj N, Toscano M, Sindona G, Russo N. On the inhibitor effects of bergamot juice flavonoids binding to the 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA Reductase (HMGR) Enzyme. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(19):10768-73.doi:10.1021/jf102576j
  12. Toth PP, Patti AM, Nikolic D, Giglio R V, Castellino G, Biancucci T, et al. Bergamot reduces plasma lipids, atherogenic small dense LDL, and subclinical atherosclerosis in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia: a 6 months prospective study. Front. Pharmacol. 2016;6:1–9. doi:10.3389/fphar.2015.00299
  13. Gliozzi M, Walker R, Muscoli S, Vitale C, Gratteri S, Carresi C, et al. Bergamot polyphenolic fraction enhances rosuvastatin-induced effect on LDL-cholesterol, LOX-1 expression and protein kinase B phosphorylation in patients with hyperlipidemia. Int J Cardiol [Internet]. 2013;170(2):140-5. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.08.125
  14. Cicero AFG, Colletti A. An update on the safety of nutraceuticals and effects on lipid parameters. Expert Opin Drug Saf [Internet]. 2018;17(3):303-13. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14740338.2018.1429404

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