No established dosage guidelines related to the use of bergamot for cholesterol have been set by recognized health agencies. Citrus bergamot supplements typically contain 500 milligrams of extract in gelatin capsules. They should be taken on an empty stomach, and without other medication, which might cause adverse reactions. Before using bergamot, patients should check with their doctors for advice, especially while using medication to lower blood pressure or drugs for other medical conditions.
Bergamot extract comes from the fruit of Citrus bergamia Risso, a species grown primarily in southern Italy. People who use bergamot for cholesterol typically avoid eating the fruit or drinking its juice because of its bitter flavor. This yellow fruit grows about the size of an average orange, but its taste exceeds the bitterness of grapefruit. It looks like a lemon, but is not as sour.
Peelings from the fruit can be added to pastries as zest. Its essential oils typically appear in about half of all perfumes manufactured and in other cosmetic products. Bergamot oil also gives certain brands of tea a pleasant aroma. Oils might also be used in aromatherapy to produce a calming effect.
The use of bergamot for cholesterol gained attention after two studies showed it lowered total cholesterol levels, along with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. LDL, often called bad cholesterol, represents a major risk factor for heart disease. It might cause fats to accumulate in arteries and reduce blood flow carrying oxygen to the heart and brain. The research also showed bergamot for cholesterol raised the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), considered good cholesterol with protective benefits.
Triglyceride levels also fell in study participants using bergamot for cholesterol. Triglycerides represent the amount of fat stored in the human body for use as energy. In both studies, researchers found substantial decreases in triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol levels. Dosages ranged between 500 milligrams a day to 1,000 milligrams daily. All patients used in the research had total cholesterol levels above 250 before they took bergamot.
A published 2009 study conducted by Italian scientists showed bergamot lowered total cholesterol levels by about 31 percent after one month. LDL levels fell about 39 percent, and triglycerides dropped 41.5 percent. The report also states HDL levels rose approximately 43 percent in participants who took bergamot capsules once or twice a day for four weeks. Another effect discovered by researchers occurred in blood glucose levels, which decreased an average of 22 percent.
Bergamot might work by blocking the production of cholesterol in the liver. This action might force the liver to seek cholesterol stored in the bloodstream when production falls too low. Substances found in the fruit have been compared to commercial drugs in their ability to lower cholesterol. Some manufacturers of bergamot supplements suggest two to four 500 milligram capsules daily for the first month, and one capsule daily as a maintenance dose.