Alternative Medicine - - Quick Nutrition - BY JOHN BEN­SON


Berg­amot is a highly fra­grant cit­rus com­monly found in south­ern Italy and trop­i­cal parts of Asia. Be­cause it looks like an or­ange on the out­side and re­sem­bles a lemon on the in­side, some call it a “sweet lemon.” The fruit peel is used to cre­ate a highly con­cen­trated oil—which is com­monly found in Earl Grey tea. In tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine (TCM), Berg­amot is used to soothe in­di­ges­tion and gas. It is also used in many per­fumes and lo­tions for its sweet scent and an­tibac­te­rial prop­er­ties. BERG­AMOT OIL Berg­amot oil, an ex­tract from the fruit, has many health ben­e­fits. Its com­pounds are a nat­u­ral an­tide­pres­sant and stim­u­lant. They also trig­ger hor­mone pro­duc­tion to aid di­ges­tion, nu­tri­ent ab­sorp­tion, and sugar pro­cess­ing. In ad­di­tion, the oil has a nat­u­ral abil­ity to in­hibit the growth of germs, viruses, and fungi. It is highly ef­fec­tive in com­bat­ing in­testi­nal worms, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, uri­nary tract in­fec­tions, blad­der in­fec­tions, and skin prob­lems. The oil can even be used on chapped lips and cold sores. It is also ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing par­a­sites and sug­gested to be a nat­u­ral in­sect re­pel­lent.

Berg­amot is com­monly used in aro­mather­apy to help re­lax and clear the mind while pro­vid­ing en­ergy. It blends well with other es­sen­tial oils, and its aroma is fresh, cit­rusy, and slightly flo­ral. Berg­amot oil can be used in an aroma lamp or in mas­sage oils. It can be added to a warm bath, which will re­lease its va­pors and aid many skin con­di­tions. Fur­ther, va­por­iz­ing Berg­amot can be used to treat colds, flus, and con­ges­tion.

Of­ten used in TCM, it re­lieves help­less­ness, hope­less­ness, empti­ness, and grief. Ev­ery part of the plant—from the fruit to the root—is used to help bal­ance the body. Berg­amot is also com­monly used for liver de­pres­sion and qi stag­na­tion, as well as spleen and qi stag­na­tion. Re­turn­ing the body to a state of har­mony and as­sist­ing with the flow of en­ergy are among its main fo­cuses in TCM.

BERG­AMOT SUP­PLE­MENTS Re­cent stud­ies have shown Berg­amot juice is highly ef­fec­tive in low­er­ing low-den­sity lipopro­tein (LDL)—bad—choles­terol at the source by help­ing to block the pro­duc­tion of choles­terol in the liver. Bru­tieridin and mel­tidin are the two an­tiox­i­dant com­pounds found in Berg­amot that help pro­vide this ef­fect. Un­like statin drugs, th­ese polyphe­nols do not de­crease the body's pro­duc­tion of CoQ10. The com­pounds in Berg­amot also help block the pro­duc­tion of the many en­zymes that ini­tially cause the in­creased LDL choles­terol. As Ju­lian Whi­taker, MD, sug­gests, Berg­amot ex­tract also has been shown to in­crease high-den­sity lipopro­tein (HDL)—good—choles­terol, which helps the liver re­move LDL choles­terol from the body.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Berg­amot is ef­fec­tive in pro­mot­ing healthy ar­ter­ies. Ac­cord­ing to med­i­cal re­searcher and author Chris Kil­ham, Berg­amot ex­tract has demon­strated anti-hy­per­lipi­demia ac­tiv­ity. This means the ex­tract re­duces ex­cess lipids in the blood, helps to pre­vent hard­en­ing of the ar­ter­ies, and de­creases fatty de­posits in the liver. Th­ese ben­e­fits are im­por­tant in over­all car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. Fur­ther, the polyphe­nols in Berg­amot sup­press in­flam­ma­tion, in­hibit plaque for­ma­tion, and im­prove ar­te­rial re­spon­sive­ness—all cru­cial for health.

An­other im­por­tant health ben­e­fit is Berg­amot's abil­ity to lower blood glu­cose lev­els. This is par­tic­u­larly nec­es­sary for peo­ple at risk of di­a­betes, pre­di­a­betes, and meta­bolic syn­drome. Berg­amot is a pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant that ac­ti­vates the pro­teins re­spon­si­ble for break­ing down fatty acids and glu­cose in the body. This helps not only with reg­u­lat­ing blood sugar lev­els, but also with weight man­age­ment.

A word of cau­tion: When us­ing Berg­amot oil or a lo­tion con­tain­ing Berg­amot, avoid sun­light, which causes ir­ri­ta­tion. Al­ways store Berg­amot­con­tain­ing prod­ucts in a dark place to avoid de­com­po­si­tion of its com­pounds—and note that Berg­amot can ac­tu­ally be­come toxic if ex­posed to enough sun­light. Fur­ther, although Berg­amot juice, Berg­amot oil, Berg­amot tea, and Berg­amot sup­ple­ments come from the same plant source, they are not in­ter­change­able, and wild Berg­amot— an herb com­monly re­ferred to as Oswego—does not come from the same plant.

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