bergamot citrus

How do you control your cholesterol? Many people take a statin medication such as atorvastatin  or simvastatin to keep their blood fats within normal range. On the other hand, you might prefer a more natural approach. One reader wondered whether to try taking a bergamot extract to lower high cholesterol.

Q. I have had success taking red yeast rice to lower my cholesterol. However, it’s not quite as effective now as in the beginning. My nutritionist suggested trying citrus bergamot. Is there research to back this up?

Citrus Bergamot Against High Cholesterol:

A. We were surprised to learn that Citrus bergamia, the bergamot orange, acts on the same enzyme as red yeast rice and statins to lower cholesterol (Mollace et al, Fitoterapia, April 2011). Presumably we ought not to have been surprised: an Israeli study showed that a different citrus fruit, red grapefruit, can improve blood lipids (Gorinstein et al, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, March 2006).

Scientists have conducted a handful of studies to determine if C. bergamia or its extract would be effective for treating high cholesterol. One study of 80 individuals found that such an extract (Bergavit R®) lowered cholesterol significantly during the six-month study (Toth et al, Frontiers in Pharmacology, Jan. 6, 2016).  This trial was not placebo-controlled, however. In addition, a very small clinical trial using a blend of bergamot fruit extract and other plant extracts (Cardiox-LDL®) demonstrated drops in cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (Babish et al, Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, Dec. 2016). Disappointingly, this study had no placebo arm, either.

Some other studies have not confirmed the lipid-lowering benefits of bergamot. On the other hand, a review found that overall, this unusual fruit contains flavanone compounds that may act as natural statins (Cappello et al, Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2016).

Possible Side Effect:

Some people complain that drinking Earl Grey tea can trigger muscle cramps. Since bergamot provides the distinctive flavoring for this tea, you should be alert for this complication.

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  1. Cindy

    My husband has been taking Red yeast rice and COQ10, but his LDL and tryglyserides are still high. Does anyone know if it’s ok to take Citrus Bergamot in addition to what he’s already taking or should he discontinue the RYR?

  2. carol
    North Riverside, IL United States

    Solana health Cardiol plus (on amazon) one or two a day seems to lower cholesterol for many, for me it lowered triglycerides but cholesterol was lowered through cardiol, from the
    Italian pharmacy (also on amazon) it succeeded with many capsules but when lowered
    to one, the cholesterol went I am trying cardiol forte plus the cardiol plus, 2 mos. to check …….

    My hasband has Lipitor, cut to 1/2 and takes every other day, after blood test came back okay for a couple of year.

  3. DD

    Can you lower cholesterol with oatmeal? My doctor says mine is too high. I have been eating steel cut oats for about a month. She pressured me to take 5mg of a statin drug. I am afraid of developing diabetes and of the side effects of taking statins. I have an artificial heart valve, which is three years old. She says I might be in danger of needing a second operation, if I don’t get my readings down, because she hears noises of plaque developing. What should I do?

  4. Pattie

    I tried taking only 2-3 a week and still had problems.

  5. Garry TM

    Bergamont worked nicely for me. I would encourage anyone to give it a try.

    Interestingly, my doctor showed no interest in how I had normalized my numbers without statins. It was my first step in learning about the medical industry, and it is an industry. [When exploring alternatives with a doctor the response is often like telling a Ford dealer you want a Chevy.]

    If you are on medications get clearance from your doctor; true for all supplement use. At least check with your pharmacist for possible interactions.

    As with any supplement, be sure to find a reputable company.

    • Bennie

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I would like to try it. Can you share the name of the product from the “reputable company” you found and also the amount you took and for how long? Many thanks!

    • Riva

      you were so right pertaining to the ‘medical industry’ description. I had the same experiences. Being intolerable to prescribed drugs, I’ve been using alternative ways, and have been successful for the last almost 12 years after my heart attack. My GP is not happy, and sometimes even gets nasty and sarcastic, because I manage without having to deal with numerous side affects. I am also using Bergamont.

  6. Gail

    Vertigo episodes led to MRI, which revealed thinning of Vertebral Artery, which may have nothing to do with dizziness! My Cholesterol is a beautiful normal, & I’m in very good shape, but of course advised Med is a Statin! I’m seeking alternate effective choices! Thank you, for any thoughts.

  7. Trish

    I cannot take statins because of severe muscle pain side effect. I’m trying Stanols by taking Cholestoff 1800mg per day. Has anyone tried this? Does it work?

  8. Laura
    Milwaukee Wi

    After reading the studies done in Italy and published in the peer-reviewed journals in the US, I asked our cardiologist to consider adding this to my husband’s regimen after he could not tolerate a daily dose of rouvastatin, and had to stay on a half dose 3x week.

    It indeed reduced his cholesterol 14%. These studies paired bergamot with statins, allowing a lower dose of statin to be used.

  9. Edward

    If one is taking a statin medication … a day……can one take one pill every second day to hopefully eliminate muscle cramp pains ??

    • ladyliza

      I had the same muscle problems after taking Pravastatin for less than 3 months. I will just tell you what my doctor said. He told me to stay off of anything for 3 weeks, as it takes that long to clear the body of the statin. Then begin the red yeast rice or bergamot. My dr is a believer in both herbs to lower it. Some people have side effects from RYR, but I did not so after 4 years am still taking them. I didn’t find the bergamot worked for my husband but buying the right brand is important and I couldn’t find many manufacturers. I will try again.

  10. Dallee

    Very interesting article! I am extremely sensitive to statins, and get the same negative reaction to red yeast as I do to a prescription statin.

    It is extremely helpful to know that Earl Grey tea may contain a similar compound and that I should keep my eye out for that type of food reaction.

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