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Hesperidin is an antioxidant flavonoid found in citrus fruits. Back in the 1930's, hesperidin was one of a group of compounds scientists called "vitamin P," the cofactors without which vitamin C could not exert its health benefits. Found in the pulp and peel of citrus fruit, hesperidin is usually combined with vitamin C for strengthening the walls of tiny blood vessels all over the body.
Diosmin is manufactured from hesperidin by a chemical process that makes hesperidin more active in the body. Most hesperidin supplements actually contain a mixture of hesperidin and diosmin. These compounds are derived from sweet oranges, the kind used to make orange juice. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses whole bitter orange peel, which provides compounds that are potent sedatives that act on the same receptors in the brain that respond to opium.
What kinds of problems can be treated with citrus bioflavonoids, hesperidin, and diosmin? The discover of vitamin C, Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, found that vitamin C would not restore damage to gums and mucous membranes caused by scurvy unless it was combined with what he called the "paprika factor," the group of plant compounds later called vitamin P.
In 1950, the Joint Committee for Biochemical Nomenclature of the American Society for Biological Chemicals and the American Institute of Nutrition recommended that the term vitamin P be replaced with the term "bioflavonoids." Since there are actually over 800 citrus bioflavonoids, the idea that there was a single "vitamin P" was misleading. Outside of the United States, however, the term continues to be used even now.
Citrus bioflavonoids are similar to vitamin C in many ways. Both citrus bioflavonoids and vitamin C are soluble in water. Both citrus bioflavonoids and vitamin C are measured in milligrams per liter of juice, not micrograms or grams. Both citrus bioflavonoids and vitamin C are stable even when they are dried, exposed to the air, or heated, but both citrus bioflavonoids and vitamin C are easily destroyed by light.
Dr. R. H. Liu of Cornell University in New York State estimates that the vitamin C in an orange is only about 0.4% of all the antioxidants that the fruit provides. That means that an orange provides 250 times more antioxidants than a vitamin C capsule, unless the supplement also provides the citrus bioflavonoids.
The classical vitamin C deficiency disease once called scurvy is not a common problem in the modern world. But about 10% of men and 25% of women eventually develop varicose veins. Roughly a third of all adult men and women and over half of pregnant women suffer hemorrhoids. Diabetes, phlebitis, and Parkinson's disease can cause leg cramps, and thrombophlebitis, a condition characterized by a lump in a vein just under the skin of the leg, causes pain and immobility for men and women of all ages, especially for women during pregnancy and for travelers on long-distance flights. Vitamin C is not especially helpful for most of these conditions, but the citrus bioflavonoids, hesperidin, and diosmin.
In the human body, the bioflavonoids hesperidin, and diosmin, of the 800 or so similar chemicals, have the greatest effect on the vascular system. Both hesperidin and diosmin are natural plant chemicals, but there is a lot of hesperidin and very little or no diosmin in the orange. Manufacturers could get diosmin from plants in the same family as the herb foxglove, but as a practical matter they just convert the hesperidin in orange pulp to the more bioactive diosmin through a simple, nontoxic process.
What do hesperidin and diosmin do for the cardiovascular system? The famous naturopathic doctors Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno point out four functions of hesperidin and diosmin in vascular health. tissue.
How Varicose Veins Form
Courtesy of (US) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
In one study, researchers in twenty-three countries studied diosmin as a treatment for varicose veins in over 5,000 patients. This study found that just 500 mg of a mixture of 10% hesperidin and 90% diosmin called Daflon was enough to prevent the worst complications of varicose veins, such as heaviness in the legs, inability to stand more than a few minutes, blood clots, and breakdown of the fatty layers underneath the skin of the legs. A second study found that 1000 mg of Daflon a day (two 500-mg tablets) was enough to heal leg ulcers-which are normally hard to heal and prone to infection.
Even Healthy People Can Get Varicose Veins
Photo by Jackerhack
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in the anus. A study of 120 patients who had hemorrhoids found that two 500-mg tablets of Daflon every day eased bleeding, burning, itching, and oozing. Other studies have found that it may be necessary to take up to 2,000 mg a day for good results.
You may read that diosmin, hesperidin, and Daflon have not been tested for safety and efficacy in pregnant women. Actually, they have. A study at the Singapore General Hospital found that Daflon usually relieved hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy in 4 days.
Supplements combining hesperidin and diosmin (or just diosmin alone) can be very helpful in varicose veins and hemorrhoids, but using them does not mean you should abandon other commonsense health measures. Support stockings help shrink varicose veins, although you may be able to use them a lot less often if you take diosmin and hesperidin supplements. Walking around every hour or so, if you have a job involving a lot of sitting or if you are taking a long trip by car or plane, keeps blood from pooling to cause phlebitis. For hemorrhoids, fiber in the diet and warm baths relieve symptoms, too. In many cases, however, hesperidin and diosmin make the difference between managing unpleasant symptoms and actually getting better.
Sometimes there are changes in circulation to the lower legs that are "not quite" varicose veins. The first sign of condition called venous insufficiency may be the development of what looks like a tan on the lower legs even though they haven't been exposed to the sun. The changes in skin pigment usually form brown blotches with lighter lines between. The skin can become dry, rough, and flaky even if the skin is moisturized. There may be tiny lesions that look like scratches on the inside of the ankles, and a phenomenon sometimes called "blood blisters" at the tips of the toes. The toenails may turn purple and fall out, although they usually grow back in a few months.
The ankles can swell, there can be nighttime leg cramps, and the skin can become itchy, especially after a hot bath or a hot shower. These are an early warning sign that even more serious vascular changes may be on the way. (Yes, venous insufficiency can get worse than the photo at the left!)
A study of 895 patients in France found that 1,000 mg of the mixture of hesperidin and diosmin every day helps correct the symptoms of venous insufficiency over several months. American natural products expert Frank Murray points out that it is always a better idea to start treatment sooner rather than later. The dry and broken skin on the legs caused by venous insufficiency is easily infected.
Venous insufficiency, by the way, is often misdiagnosed as peripheral arterial disease. Sometimes doctors just take a look at the legs and don't bother to ask their patients how they feel. Here's how you can tell symptoms are due to venous insufficiency rather than peripheral arterial disease.
Long-time diabetics tend to develop venous insufficiency. Hesperidin and diosmin and help. Some holistically oriented doctors recommend that their diabetic patients take hesperidin, diosmin, or Daflon to prevent or treat early-stage kidney failure, but this application has not been formally tested.
Diosmin is used almost interchangeably with hesperidin except for treating hot flashes. Hot flashes are treated with hesperidin. In one clinical study, 194 menopausal women who had hot flashes were given a daily nutritional supplement containing:
At the end of a month, 53% of the women in the study reported that their hot flashes had stopped and 34% reported that they had improved. This is a better response for controlling hot flashes than is obtained from treatment with Effexor (venlafaxine), black cohosh, red clover, soy isoflavones, or dong quai, although there are other symptoms of menopause that are addressed by those treatments.
Lymphedema is a condition of upper arm swelling that is common after lymph nodes are removed to stop the spread of cancer. In a study of lymphedema after breast cancer surgery in women, diosmin treatment was found to reduce the volume of the upper arm by an average of 7%, reducing pain, lowering the risk of skin infections, and improving the appearance of the arm.
Combinations of hesperidin and diosmin are especially useful for treating bruises. Bruises are usually "only a cosmetic concern," but they can be a major cosmetic concern that causes weeks, months, or even years of embarrassment.
Bruises caused by accidents or trauma usually occur after a specific, memorable event. They tend to have random shapes and sizes. Bruises after intentionally inflicted injury tend to have the shape and size of the instrument used to inflict the injury. When bruises are caused by vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy, there are usually also bleeding gums, bleeding sinuses, and frequent infections.
If you have bruising with inflamed gums or sinusitis, try taking vitamin C with bioflavonoids, at least 2,000 mg per day for a month. Otherwise, take 1,000 mg of diosmin or diosmin with hesperidin every day indefinitely. Diosmin, hesperidin, and citrus bioflavonoids do not interfere with blood thinning medications, which act directly on the blood. Diosmin, hesperidin, and citrus bioflavonoids act on blood vessels and the muscles surrounding them.
These compounds are water-soluble, and they pass directly into the bloodstream without being broken down. For maximum absorption, take with a glass of water on an empty stomach.
There are no side effects of diosmin and hesperidin taken in recommended doses, up to 1,000 mg a day. There is no level of consumption that would be toxic. There are no known drug interactions, except for products also containing vitamin C. Don't use vitamin C with citrus bioflavonoids for hot flashes if you have kidney disease or kidney stones.
Q. Is "European Leg Solution" by LEF the same as Daflon?
A. It's almost the same thing as Daflon. It contains a little more diosmin, 95% instead of 90%, which should make it slightly faster acting.