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Hesperidin

Hesperidin is a pigment found in plants that is classed as a bioflavonoid and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Unripe citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit provide the highest concentration of this compound. Hesperidin is also sold as a food supplement.

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Hesperidin was isolated for the first time in 1828 by French chemist Lebreton, from the mesocarp, or the inner white layer of a citrus fruit. The name was chosen based on the Latin word that designates citruses. From a chemical point of view, hesperidin is classified as a flavanone glycoside. Hesperetin is the name given to its aglycone form. The structure of hesperidin is the combination of a hesperitin molecule with a disaccharide named rutinose. Thanks to this sugar compound, hesperidin is more water soluble than the pure chemical.

Hesperetin is found in the composition of plants for defensive purposes but is also responsible for the typical flavour of all citrus fruits. The best food source of hesperidin is the sweet orange, scientific name Citrus sinensis. The outer layers of the fruit, namely the mesocarp and peel, provide the highest amount. As a result, prepare orange juice with pulp for a larger dose of this compound. As a natural by-product of citrus fruit cultivation, hesperidin is cheap to isolate and produce industrially.

Flavonoids like hesperidin or rutin have an important biochemical role in decreasing the permeability of capillary veins. However, flavonoids are complex molecules and scientists suspect that hesperidin might play other roles in the body. No signs of toxicity have been reported for normal dosages of its compounds and its derivatives.

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Hesperidin is known as a powerful antioxidant agent, able to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokine production. As a consequence, it has attested antihypertensive, anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic and cardio-protective effects. Because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic properties, it provides a number of medical benefits. These have been proven by the results of several rigorous scientific trials, with a randomized crossover method.

Of all flavonoids found in citrus fruits, hesperidin is the most important. Hesperidin has been consumed by humans for a long time and has even been designated as vitamin P due to its health benefits. The highest concentration has been detected in citrus skins, which have been heavily featured in traditional Chinese medicine. Hesperidin is prescribed against vascular conditions in Europe and Australia, while supplements of hesperidin and vitamin C are popular in the United States.

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It is easy to take advantage of the benefits of hesperidin and other flavonoids by including citruses in your diet. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are the best option but it is also found in the peel and membranes of plums, bilberries and apricots. As much as 5-10 percent of the dry mass of tangerine peels consists of hesperidin, this reaches a whopping 14 percent of the weight of unripe oranges. Some vegetables also contain hesperidin, especially broccolis and yellow or green peppers. It is also found in whole grains and buckwheat, which is not technically a grain.

Health benefits

Hesperidin can shield tissues and cells from the action of free radicals, being a potent antioxidant. Various chemicals with an unpaired electron are known as free radicals. They are extremely unstable and reactive, with a destructive activity against cells, tissues, membranes, fats, nutrients and vitamins. Many factors in today's environment expose us to free radicals, for example pollution in the air, UV radiation from sunlight, cigarette smoke, or industrial processed foods. Hesperidin seems to be especially effective at shielding the neurons from oxidative stress. Healthy neurons mean a balanced mental mindset because brain cells continue their normal functions. It is also active inside the liver, which is normally targeted by numerous environmental toxins and pollutants that are processed inside this vital organ.

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Oral supplements with hesperidin are known to help people who suffer from extreme cold sensitivity. The mechanism of action is simple: it allows heat to travel faster in the body extremities because it dilates blood vessels in the area. According to the results of another study, this bioactive compound boosts the production of nitric oxide. This chemical is known to promote relaxation of the blood vessels, which decreases dangerously high blood pressure. Hesperidin is also used in the treatment of leg ulcers and hemorrhoids, combined with diosmin. People who suffer from chronic venous insufficiency can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of this substance.

Glucosyl hesperidin is a chemical variety that can be a great help for patients with a very high level of triglycerides, since it reduces their concentration in the blood stream. At the same time, it controls the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), which are blamed for many chronic diseases. With a lower amount of triglycerides and cholesterol, the risk of developing conditions such as arteriosclerosis or cardiovascular issues is reduced significantly.

Hesperidin was found to alleviate the worst symptoms of menopause and many doctors prescribe it for this purpose. The number and intensity of hot flashes can be reduced by supplements with a mix of hesperidin and vitamin C. It also provides a mild sedative effect, which is also welcome during menopause since it counters its emotional effects, such as the anxiety that is very common during this time. It might also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, according to the results of a study that found a lower decrease of bone density after hesperidin supplementation.

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Hesperetin is a derivative of hesperidin that has been the focus of modern science. It was found to balance the synthesis of hormones and limit the expansion of tumours. This could be extremely valuable in the treatment of some forms of cancer that are triggered by hormones, such as breast cancer. It has also been tested on lines of colon cancer cells in lab experiments, which showed direct anti-cancer properties.

This bioactive compound can also boost the response of the very complex human immune system. It consists of many specialized cells, with their own functions, which work together as a defence mechanism. Antioxidants can influence and control all of these separate segments. Citrus bioflavonoids like hesperidin have an important impact on the immune system because they facilitate the production of vitamin C complex.

When the veins found in the anal canal or around the anus area become inflamed and swollen under pressure, the result is a very uncomfortable condition named hemorrhoids. Bioflavonoids such as hesperidin and diosmin are able to reduce these unwanted symptoms.

Inflammation is a very common side effect of many diseases and causes redness, swelling and a warm feeling that in severe causes can turn into impaired movement or pain. Probably due to the inhibition of inflammatory mediators formation, hesperidin was recommended by a recent study as a very potent anti-inflammatory in cases of carrageenan-induced edema.

The human cells produce very dangerous compounds known as free radicals, as part of the normal metabolism. The body has natural defences that neutralize free radicals but sometimes these can damage cells if there aren't enough antioxidants available. Hesperidin is a very effective antioxidant like most bioflavonoids and can shield the liver from the harmful effects of free radicals, as well as other toxins and pollutants.

The heart is a vital organ that can be affected by a number of different diseases. The most common are coronary artery issues, congenital heart defects that are present since birth, blood vessel problems, irregular heartbeat and many others. Orange juice has been known for a long time to reduce high blood pressure. Scientists now think that hesperidin causes this effect due to the vasodilation triggered by an increased production of nitric oxide.

Bioflavonoids like hesperidin, quercetin or rutin can limit the production of histamine. This effect greatly reduces the intensity of allergic reactions, as well as conditions like asthma that are associated with it.

The lack of dopamine, a chemical synthetized in the brain, is the root cause for degenerative Parkinson's disease. Dopamine acts as a transmitter inside the brain, relaying messages between cells. It also controls the so-call reward centers inside the brain. Results of both in vitro and in vivo studies have revealed that hesperidin is very effective in treating Parkinson's disease because it maintains healthy levels of dopamine, pro-survival proteins and enzymes with an antioxidant effect at a cellular level.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that typically starts after the age of 40 and women after menopause are especially vulnerable. However, people of any age can develop this condition. Some studies have found that the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be relieved after a 12-week treatment with a beverage based on alpha glucosyl hesperidin.

Women during menopause also have a very high risk of osteoporosis, a disease that gradually weakens the structure of bones until they become prone to breaking. The Nestle Research Center in Switzerland has discovered in 2016 that hesperidin can preserve normal bone density in women, when associated with calcium supplements.

Side effects and cautions

Hesperidin is known to have several side effects, the most important being increased bleeding during surgical procedures. Hesperidin can also cause headache, diarrhea or digestive pain. As most chemicals, it can alter the effect of other drugs. Before including hesperidin supplements in your diet, you should ask for an advice from your doctor. Women should also avoid it during pregnancy or nursing, since the properties of hesperidin have not been fully investigated yet.

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