ONCE IN A WHILE, TH ERE’S A BREAKTHROUGH IN TH E WORLD OF NATUR AL remedies, and for cholesterol reduction, it’s bergamot extract. It comes from a citrus fruit that grows mostly in the Calabria region of southern Italy. Oil from bergamot rind is used to flavor Earl Grey tea; in aromatherapy, it’s used to reduce anxiety. But oil from the rind will not lower cholesterol. The therapeutic supplement is a bergamot extract from the juice of the fruit.
So far, human studies have tested bergamot extract on more than 400 people with elevated blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides, which increase risk for both heart disease and diabetes. These are some of the findings:
An Italian study, published in the journal Fitoterapia, compared a placebo with either 500 or 1,000 mg of bergamot extract. After one month, for the lower and higher dosages, average reductions in harmful LDL cholesterol were 24 and 36 percent and for triglycerides, 30 and 39 percent, while beneficial HDL cholesterol increased by 22 and 40 percent. Elevated blood sugar dropped by 15 and 25 percent. Another study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, compared the effects of a placebo, a statin, 1,000 mg of bergamot, and a combination of the statin and bergamot during one month. All but the placebo effectively lowered cholesterol, and among those taking the drug-supplement combination, doctors cut the drug dosage in half without reducing its effectiveness. A study published in Advances in Biological Chemistry looked at the effect of 650 mg of bergamot extract, twice daily, on the liver. Researchers found that among people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and risk for heart disease and diabetes, bergamot improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar, and improved liver health.
USING BERGAMOT EXTRACT: 500–1,000 mg daily has been the effective dose in studies. It’s preferable to take bergamot before or between meals, rather than with food.