Earl Grey: More than just a cup of tea

October 2018

By Christine Cheng, R.Ph. and Fred Cheng, R.Ph. 

There are multiple benefits of drinking any type of black tea, but there is something unique about Earl Grey Tea. Bergamot, which most people are familiar with as the source of flavouring for this unique tea has been proven to have cardiovascular benefits when taken on its own. Polyphenolic Fractions (BPF) found in the juice taken from this special type of orange can help maintain healthy total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein (HDL), triglyceride (TG), and low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. For example, BPF can increase the number of LDL receptors at the cell membrane on various tissues thus reducing the levels of LDL in the blood; on a theoretical basis, this can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. BPF can also limit the half-life of an enzyme known as HMG-CoA, which is responsible for making a precursor to cholesterol and Coenzyme Q10 [CoQ10]). It is interesting to note that HMG-CoA is also the target of pharmaceutical medications (i.e., the “statins”), which usually inhibits the activity of this enzyme. BPF only “limits” the half-life of this enzyme, it does not completely block its effects thus, the body still benefits from the synthesis of cholesterol (a necessary building block for certain hormones and vitamin D) without the potential side effects of blocking CoQ10 (e.g., muscle cramping).

There is very promising experimental and clinical data on the use of this nutraceutical. In one study, men and women given a bergamot supplement for a 6-month period had reduced total cholesterol, reduced LDL cholesterol, increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels. Even more striking was that the carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), which is a means of diagnosing and monitoring atherosclerotic vascular disease also decreased. You can think of CIMT like this: the higher the number, the narrower the artery, the greater the risk of there being an atherosclerotic (fatty) plaque, that could rupture and cause problems. In another study, BPF was shown to enhance the benefits of a statin medication, without causing myopathies (e.g., muscle associated side effects) associated with simply increasing the statin dose.

Now, unfortunately, it’s not as if drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea a day will be enough to get the benefits of Bergamot because Earl Grey tea is scented with the essential oils from Bergamot. The cardiovascular benefits are associated with the phenolic compounds found in Bergamot Juice. Ortho Molecular Products® has come out with BERGAMOT BPF, which provides amounts of the phenolic compounds in Bergamot to have therapeutic benefits. Come speak with one of our pharmacists to see if this product is right for you.

Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-owned and operated Pharmasave stores in Cloverdale and Steveston, B.C. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore. 

***All information posted and shared by Cloverdale Pharmasave is offered to provide information and choices regarding nutritional support for various health concerns, none of which is intended to be a treatment protocol for any disease state. The information does not replace seeking professional advice from your physician. Consult your health care practitioner before taking dietary supplements.

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