Bergamot, a plant grown in southern Italy, has demonstrated strong cholesterol-lowering effects. The active components, which are polyphenols, act by reducing lipid absorption from the gut, and also by inhibiting cholesterol production in the liver.
Taken alone, Bergamot may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 31% and triglycerides by 37%. It has benefits superior to statins in reducing triglycerides, raising HDL (good) cholesterol, and altering the size of LDL molecules from small and dense to large and fluffy, thus reducing their plaque-forming effect. Bergamot can also be used in conjunction with a statin drug to provide a combined lipid-lowering effect, allowing for a lower dose of the statin drug and lesser risk of statin side effects.
Niacin, plant sterols, and other nutrients may be added to bergamot for collective cholesterol suppression, bypassing conventional statin drugs altogether, except in patients with pre-existing coronary artery disease, who should continue statins if they are tolerated.
Bergamot has also demonstrated a blood sugar lowering effect. Thus it can help control insulin resistance and diabetes, while at the same time managing the almost universal lipid abnormalities seen in diabetics. Hemoglobin A1C, the marker we use to evaluate blood sugar control, falls an average of one point, for example from 7% to 6%.
I met this week with Dr. Ross Walker, a practicing holistic cardiologist (they are few and far between) from Australia. He is the largest physician prescriber of bergamot in his country, with over a thousand patients taking it in the last two years. He bemoans the automatic use of statin drugs for everyone with elevated cholesterol, stating that the reduction in cardiac risk is small unless major lifestyle changes are also implemented. He has witnessed frequent adverse effects from statin drugs, especially muscle pain and weakness and impaired memory and cognition. Patients may not make the connection between statin drugs and their symptoms, thinking they are just “getting old.” Since the side effects are dose-related, bergamot may allow sufficient dose reduction to eliminate them.
Bergamot has no known side effects. Our formulation, called BergaMet Pro, should be taken one tablet twice daily, preferably 30 minutes before each of the two largest meals of the day. If you can’t remember to follow that schedule, take the capsules anytime. They will still work. Allow two months before retesting cholesterol.