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By Daniel Gastelu
Section 6. Citrus Bioflavonoids
You may find it interesting that drinking morning citrus fruit beverages, such as orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lemonade, has become almost ritualistic in our society. Citrus juices have a long tradition of usefulness in folklore medicine. For instance, the use of lemon juice kept sailors from developing scurvy on their long sea voyages. Hesperidin, rutin, and narignin are the principal citrus bioflavonoids and are found in lemon, grapefruit, and orange juices, although other bioflavonoids are also present.
Q. What are some of the traditional uses of citrus bioflavonoids?
A. The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy, first published in 1919, lists lemon as the primary citrus plant to have medical properties. The authors note that the citric acid present in lemon juice is a very useful therapy. Some of the uses of lemon juice, which are listed in this classic medical text, include the treatment of malaria and some cases of chronic rheumatism and gout. It is also listed as a scurvy preventative, a controller of postpartum (after birth) hemorrhages, and a temporary reliever of hoarseness.
In his book Secrets of Fijian Medicine, Dr. Michael Weiner reports on some of the uses of lemon juice used in traditional Fijian health care. For example, Fiji islanders use citrus juices to treat hemorrhoids and asthma. Although these early traditional uses of citrus bioflavonoids are not recommended as alternatives to modern treatment, it's interesting that some of these uses have received modern medical attention-in particular, the use of citrus products in respiratory infections and healing.
Q. How can citrus bioflavonoids help respiratory infections?
A. In 1955, Dr. Morton S. Biskind reported that in sixty-nine cases of acute respiratory infections, oral therapy using a whole water-soluble citrus-bioflavonoid complex led to a rapid decline of infections usually within eight to forty-eight hours. The diseases treated included the common cold, acute follicular tonsillitis, and influenza. Only three cases did not respond to the citrus bioflavonoid treatment. Dr. Biskind explained that the bioflavonoids' effect of improving capillary permeability is most likely a major factor in causing the remarkable curative effects observed. Another factor that can be credited as a healing agent is the naturally occurring vitamin C in the citrus preparations.
You should note, however, that Dr. Biskind was reporting on case studies, not on extensive research studies. And while citrus bioflavonoid products and other bioflavonoids can be used in disease treatment, they should not replace supervised medical treatment, especially when treating infectious or potentially fatal diseases.
Q. Can citrus bioflavonoids help reduce or heal athletic injuries?
A. One of the most comprehensive studies conducted on the use of citrus bioflavonoids to help prevent and treat athletic injuries was performed by Dr. Robert Cragin in 1962. The materials used for the study were lemon-orange derived bioflavonoids, which included hesperidin as a major ingredient. Formulations were given to different groups of athletes during the entire seasons of football, soccer, basketball, track, and judo. Dr. Cragin used a double-blind technique, in which the athletes and the people administering the supplements did not know which products were bioflavonoids and which were placebos. The athletes took a 300-mg bioflavonoid supplement three times a day. Some of the bioflavonoid formulas also included vitamin C to measure if there were any added benefits.
After the athletic seasons, it was found that the athletes taking the bioflavonoids experienced the following beneficial effects: the occurrence of muscle injuries was reduced; the recovery rate from muscle injuries, when they did occur, was twice as rapid when compared with the control group; muscle cramps were rarely experienced; and swelling associated with injuries, when they did occur, were minimal and disappeared more rapidly when compared with the control group. Moreover, the addition of vitamin C appeared to enhance these effects. As for the recovery time of ligament or joint injuries, there was no change.
Q. What other uses have been reported for citrus bioflavonoids?
A. Researchers have conducted studies on the use of citrus bioflavonoids for the treatment of poor circulation. In one eight-week study, researchers gave the subjects 1 g of citrus bioflavonoids per day. At the end of the study, subjects reported better mobility during the day; improved stamina; and the regression of pain, nocturnal cramps, and fullness.
Q. What are some of the ways to get the benefits from citrus bioflavonoids?
A. Deriving the benefits of citrus bioflavonoids is as easy as eating an orange or grapefruit, using lemon juice in beverages, and drinking freshly squeezed citrus juices. If you are looking for a more reliable daily dosage of citrus bioflavonoids, citrus-bioflavonoid supplements are available alone or in combination with other nutrients in supplemental form. These bioflavonoid supplements are well-tolerated by most people and are considered safe when consumed in moderate daily amounts, or in amounts recommended on the product label.
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