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Nutrition

Hesperidin: The Citrus Bioflavonoid that Supports the Brain & Heart

Hesperidin - Dr. Axe

When you think of beneficial nutrients found in citrus fruits such as oranges, vitamin C is probably the first one that comes to mind. However, citrus fruits are also rich in many other protective compounds, one of which is called hesperidin.

What is hesperidin used for? When taken in supplement form, it’s often used to defend against inflammation, promote healthy blood pressure and to protect the blood vessels from damage.

Other hesperidin benefits include supporting the immune system, potentially fighting cancer and managing menopause symptoms.

What Is Hesperidin?

Hesperidin is a type of antioxidant called a bioflavonoid. Specifically, it’s considered a flavone, which is one type of flavanoid.

Flavonoids are a group of diverse plant-based compounds that are very abundant in fruits and veggies. These compounds fall into the larger group of antioxidants called polyphenols.

Hesperidin is found predominately in citrus fruits, and like other antioxidants, it has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and positive effects on immune function due to possessing free radical-scavenging abilities. Flavanoids also exert many other protective effects, such as having antihyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic and anticarcinogenic abilities.

Not only can you get this compound from citrus fruits, but it’s also found in supplement form and added to certain medications. In these forms, it’s isolated in large amounts from the rinds of citrus species like oranges and lemons.

Daflon is one product that contains this type of flavonoid. It is a micronized purified flavonoid fraction containing 90% diosmin (another flavonoid) and 10% hesperidin.

It’s made by the company called Laboratoires Servier and is use mostly in Europe, usually to treat varicose veins, poor circulation and hemorrhoids.

Benefits/Uses

Hesperidin has been shown to have multiple beneficial effects, such as:

  • anticarcinogenic
  • antihypertensive
  • antiviral
  • antioxidant
  • antidiabetic
  • hepatoprotective
  • anti-inflammatory properties

While this compound hasn’t been studied as extensively as some other bioflavonoids, there’s reason to believe that hesperidin benefits may include the ability to help manage the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • Menopause symptoms like hot flashes
  • PMS symptoms
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory and sinus infections
  • Loss of cognitive function in older adults
  • Varicose veins
  • Poor circulation (venous stasis)
  • Fluid retention
  • Markers related to inflammation and free radical damage, such as those that may contribute to heart disease, diabetes or cancer

According to available research studies, here’s more about hesperidin’s uses and some of these potential benefits:

1. Fights Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Studies suggest that hesperidin can enhance cellular antioxidant defenses and significantly decrease lipid peroxidation. It seems to increase levels of antioxidants, including glutathione, vitamin C and vitamin E, and enhance the activity of other beneficial enzymes.

According to one report published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, “Citrus flavonoids possess several biological activities and have emerged as efficient therapeutics for the treatment of CVD. Citrus flavonoids scavenge free radicals, improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, modulate lipid metabolism and adipocyte differentiation, suppress inflammation and apoptosis, and improve endothelial dysfunction.”

Because flavonoids can fight oxidative stress, they are considered helpful in preventing the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, tissue inflammation and more.

Flavonoids may also have anti-cancer effects because they act as radical scavengers, oxygen quenchers and hydrogen-donating antioxidants, which support overall cellular health.

2. Can Promote Cardiovascular Health

Hesperidin can help blood vessels function better — plus it may help reduce high blood pressure and also decrease markers of inflammation.

Flavonoids have been shown to improve lipid metabolism and seem capable of lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. This ability, plus that they inhibit oxidation, means consuming them offers preventive action against hardening/thickening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis.

Does hesperidin thin the blood? Hesperidin seems capable of slowing blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding if taken with blood-thinning medications, so it’s important to use it carefully if blood clotting is an issue.

One study found that adults supplementing with hesperidin experienced significant improvement in endothelial function after eating a high-fat meal compared to those who took a placebo.

A separate study found that daily consumption of orange juice containing hesperidin for one month deceased participants’ blood pressure and improved endothelial function.

3. May Help Treat Menopause Symptoms

Certain studies have found that calcium supplementation (Calcilock) in combination with hesperidin is effective at preserving bone health in postmenopausal women. It can also support healthy blood vessels and may defend against heart disease, which is a leading cause of mortality among postmenopausal women.

Due to its ability to reduce inflammation, it’s also used to manage other menopause symptoms and PMS symptoms, such as hot flashes and fluid retention. For example, one study found that along with phytoestrogens, vitamin E and evening primrose oil, hesperidin and vitamin C can be effective in treating hot flashes in menopausal women.

4. May Help Protect Cognitive Health

According to a 2019 report, there’s evidence that hesperidin has neuroprotective effects, meaning it can help preserve function of neural tissues from damage caused by various agents, as well as protect against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and multiple sclerosis.

Certain small clinical trials have found that this phenolic compound can benefit cognitive function in healthy older adults due to its ability to protect the brain and neurons from oxidative stress and inflammation. This can lead to improved cerebral blood flow, cognition and memory performance.

For example, one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eight weeks of orange juice supplementation (a rich source of bioflavonoids) among older adults attenuated cognitive decline markers.

Sources

What foods are high in hesperidin? Citrus fruits are the best source of this antioxidant.

Some of the richest sources include:

  • Oranges and pure orange fruit (various species including sweet and bitter/sour types). Neohesperidin is one isomer of hesperidin that is a bitter compound found in bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), which is used to make certain supplements.
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tangerines
  • Peppermint, whether fresh or dried
  • Other plant species, including those in the Fabaceae, Papilionaceae, Betulaceae and Lamiaceae families

Supplements and Dosage

In most studies, dosages of 150 to 300 milligrams once or twice per day have typically been given to participants. Certain studies have used higher doses above 600 mg/day, typically over a period of four to 12 weeks.

The following doses are recommended based on research studies:

  • For hemorrhoids — inside the anus, 150 mg of hesperidin plus 1350 mg of diosmin twice daily for 4 days, followed by 100 mg of hesperidin and 900 mg of diosmin twice daily for 3 days.
  • For leg ulcers caused by poor blood circulation— combination of 100 mg of hesperidin and 900 mg of diosmin daily for up to 2 months.

Hesperidin may also be combined with other antioxidants, herbs or compounds depending on the condition it’s being used to treat.

Diosmin is often taken in combination with hesperidin. When should you take diosmin with hesperidin?

Most often, you’ll be encouraged to take this combination several times daily in divided doses. Read directions for the specific product you’re using, since dosing recommendations vary from product to product.

Risks and Side Effects

Overall this compound is considered safe for most people when taken by mouth for up to six months. Using it for longer durations of time may be more likely to lead to side effects, so it’s best to avoid long-term use unless working closely with a doctor.

It’s possible to experience side effects when using this supplement, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, contact dermatitis and nausea.

Hesperidin supplements may not be safe for people taking certain medications. Do not use this supplement without consulting with your doctor if you take any of the following:

  • Blood thinners/anticoagulants
  • Antiplatelet medications
  • Blood pressure drugs
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Sedatives

It’s possible that hesperidin may affect blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding, so always use caution when taking anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications or if getting surgery.

Conclusion

  • Hesperidin is a bioflavonoid found in citrus fruits. It can be isolated from these fruits to make supplements and medications, most often which are used to treat poor circulation, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and high blood pressure.
  • Hesperidin benefits include that it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, lipid-lowering and insulin-sensitizing properties. It seems to offer protection against neurological issues and inflammatory markers related to heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
  • You shouldn’t take this supplement if you’re taking certain medications, including anticoagulants, blood thinners, blood pressure drugs and calcium channel blockers.

Source: Dr. Axe | Nutrition

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