iStock_000047822080LargeNo, this isn’t a blog on weight loss through a “miracle supplement.” Those claims actually scare the heck out of me. This is because anything that’s touted as a “panacea in a bottle” is probably a scam, or even worse, it could be dangerous!

In fact, I try to steer clear of writing about supplements that may modulate weight; therefore, this blog isn’t meant to claim that a little bit of an essential oil will make you lose weight and you can ignore all the basic healthy lifestyle factors. It’s more of an educational read on how powerful nature’s compounds can be to re-balance our bodies when they are not performing optimally.

I was actually intending to do a blog on how amazing helichyrsum oil is, but I got side-tracked by a few studies. (Shocking, right?) These articles investigated how extracts of helichrysum (Helichtrysum italicum) and grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) modulated blood sugar, weight gain, inflammation, and immune health.



Ladies and gentleman, one word may explain these effects- flavonoids! I discussed previously all the incredible properties of this classification of phenolics which are found in many essential oils as secondary metabolites. Flavonoids and phenolics have been touted for a variety of health benefits, including their role in modulating blood sugar. (1) The subcategories of flavonoids include the following:

  1. Flavonols, such as kaempferol, quercetin, isorhamnetin, and myricetin
  2. Flavones, such as apigenin, luteolin, wogonin, and baicalein
  3. Isoflavones, which are found almost exclusively in leguminous plants
  4. Flavanones, such as naringenin and hesperetin (found in citrus oils, most abundantly in grapefruit)
  5. Anthocyanidins, such as pelargonidin, cyanidin, delphinidin, peonidin, petunidin, and malvidin
  6. Flavan-3-ols, including simple monomers and oligomeric and polymeric proanthocyanidins, also known as condensed tannins
  7. Dihydrochalcones, a minor group


The Benefits Of Citrus Oil Compounds

This study I spoke of that sparked my interest for this blog topic demonstrated how helichyrsum (Helichyrsum italicum) and grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) extracts had positive effects on blood sugar in several fascinating ways:

  1. They both showed inhibition of enzymes related to carbohydrate, starch, sugar, and glycogen metabolism in vitro. These enzymes included alpha-glucosidase, which breaks down carbohydrates and some sugars, and a-amaylase, another enzyme that metabolizes starches, carbohydrates, and glycogen.
  2. Both extracts reduced maltose digestion and inhibited update of this sugar in intestinal cells in vitro.
  3. The authors of the study also reported, “ In vivo studies demonstrated that helichrysum decreased blood glucose levels after an oral maltose tolerance test (OMTT), and both extracts reduced postprandial glucose levels after the oral starch tolerance test (OSTT).”
  4. “Finally, both extracts improved hyperinsulinemia (31% with helichrysum and 50% with grapefruit) and HOMA index (47% with helichrysum and 54% with grapefruit) in a dietary model of insulin resistance in rats.” (2)

To my delight, I then found a follow up study in the same journal which reported very impressive results regarding the antioxidant and inflammation-modulating effects of helichrysum and grapefruit extracts. This study was on overweight insulin-resistant rats and consisted of thirty-eight male rats randomly distributed into a control group and a high-fat sucrose (HFS) group. The rats first were given 22 days of free access to water and food. Following their “ad libtum” intake, the rats fed HFS diet changed to the standard diet and they were reassigned into three groups of either non-supplemented, helichrysum extract (2g/kg bw), or grapefruit extract (1g/kg bw) for a period of 5 weeks.

According to the researchers the rats who were given the extracts had the following results:

  1. They gained less body weight.
  2. They showed lower levels of insulin and in an indicator of insulin resistance, the leptin/adiponectin ratio.
  3. Liver TBARS levels (measures of oxidative stress) were decreased.
  4. A reduction in gene expression of two immune and inflammation modulating genes, TNFa (in epididymal adipose tissue and intestinal mucosa), and TLR2 (in intestinal mucosa).

The researchers concluded:

Helichrysum and grapefruit extracts might be used as complement hypocaloric diets in weight loss treatment. Both extracts helped to reduce weight gain, hyperinsulinemia, and IR, improved inflammation markers, and decreased the HFS diet-induced oxidative stress in insulin-resistant rats. (3)

A 2006 study supported these findings. It claimed, “Flavonoids have been identified as the antidiabetic components in a number of traditional ethnic remedies.”

This study investigated the effect of the flavonoids hesperidin and naringin on glucose and lipid regulation in mice. The results demonstrated that these components modulated several pathways related to blood sugar and fat metabolism. Specifically, these two compounds effected gene expression of sugar breakdown in the liver and fat cells. They also modulated free fatty acid and liver triglyceride levels. For my fellow biochemistry geeks, the authors discussed the mechanism as follows:

These changes were seemingly attributable to a suppression of the hepatic fatty acid synthase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, and phosphatidate phosphohydrolase activities and an increase in the fecal triglycerides. The two flavonoids also led to a decrease in the plasma and hepatic cholesterol levels that may have been partly due to the decreased hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme (HMG-CoA) reductase and acyl CoA: cholesterol acyltransferase (ACAT) activities and increased fecal cholesterol.

The authors concluded that hesperidin and naringin could improve high blood lipids and glucose levels in type-2 diabetic rodents “by partly regulating the fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism and affecting the gene expression of glucose-regulating enzymes.” (4)

Another study investigated the effect of citrus bioflavonoids on blood glucose level, liver glucose-regulating enzymes, liver glycogen concentration, plasma insulin levels, plasma leptin, and body weight in male mice. The results indicated that hesperidin and naringin both positively impacted enzymes that regulated blood glucose in these rodents.

The authors reported, “The current results suggest that hesperidin and naringin both play important roles in preventing the progression of hyperglycemia, partly by increasing hepatic glycolysis and glycogen concentration and/or by lowering hepatic gluconeogenesis.” (5)

In addition, a study with mice either on a low fat (LF) or high fat (HF) diet alone or supplement with .5% lemon polyphenols for 12 weeks claimed, “Body weight gain, fat pad accumulation, the development of hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance were significantly suppressed by lemon polyphenols.”

The authors reported that the lemon polyphenols significantly up-regulated the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-a (PPARa) compared to the LF and HF groups in the liver. These nuclear receptor proteins are related to cellular differentiation, development, metabolism (carbohydrate, lipid, protein), and regulation of cellular growth. Furthermore, the lemon polyphenols modulated an enzyme related to fatty acid oxidation.

The study states, “Thus, feeding with lemon polyphenols suppressed body weight gain and body fat accumulation by increasing peroxisomal a-oxidation through up-regulation of the mRNA level of ACO in the liver and white adipose tissue, which was likely mediated via up-regulation of the mRNA levels of PPARa.” (6)

Another benefit of flavonoids is that they may also help in modulate various pathways involved in inflammation. (7, 8) This leads us to our first review of a human study.

A randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial with seventy-five patients who had a heart attack (myocardial infarction) were divided into two groups who either consumed a 600 mg/d pure hesperidin supplement or a placebo for 4 weeks. Inflammatory markers and adipocytocines were measured at baseline and at the end of the intervention. The hesperidin group had significant decreases in in inflammatory markers (IL-6, hs-CRP), leptin, and lipid profiles. The group also had an increase in adipoenectin, which regulates glucose and fatty acid breakdown.

The authors concluded:

Hesperidin supplementation could compensate for decreased levels of adiponectin and HDL-C and increased levels of E-selectin in patients with myocardial infarction. These results support the concept that certain flavonoids in the diet can be associated with significant health benefits, including heart health. (8)

Interestingly, in another human study with 204 participants with mildly elevated cholesterol levels who were divided into groups that received either a placebo or a daily dose of 800 mg hesperidin or 500 mg naringin, a change in cholesterol levels with the intervention was not shown. However, the study had several limitations:

  1. Bio-availability of the supplements that were prepared in the capsule where not evaluated.
  2. The role of cholesterol on health outcomes isn’t firmly established. Furthermore, the NMR panel to test for particle size, which is a better marker of cardiovascular health, (10) wasn’t done.

In another trial that tested for mechanisms of action of hespertin (the gut breakdown product of hesperidin) in vitro and in vivo, hesperetin was shown to modulate production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator, in blood vessel cells. It was also reported to reduce inflammatory processes within the bovine aortic cells. These results were confirmed in the authors’ clinical study. They reported, “In the clinical study, when compared with placebo, hesperidin treatment increased flow-mediated dilation (10.26 ± 1.19 vs. 7.78 ± 0.76%; P = 0.02) and reduced concentrations of circulating inflammatory biomarkers (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A protein, soluble E-selectin).”



High flavonoid citrus fruit oils can be a powerful tool and simple addition to your wellness routine. High quality citrus oils are safe for ingestion and my team and I ingest lemon, lime, orange, or a yummy blend in our water everyday. Not only may these oils be assisting with modulating biochemical pathways in metabolism and immune health, but they could also be cleaning out toxicants from our little cells as well.

Click here for tips on how to incorporate them into your family’s everyday routine.

Note: For those on medication, grapefruit oil may affect its clearance, so check with your doctor before you sip water with this yummy oil.

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Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized or tested for purity. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin.

This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.



(1) Brahmachari G. Opportunity, Challenge and Scope of Natural Products in Medicinal Chemistry. Bio-flavonoids with promising antidiabetic potentials: A critical survey. Research Signpost: Kerala, India. 2011: 187-212. ISBN: 978-81-308-0448-4

(2) de la Garza AL1, Etxeberria U, Lostao MP, San Román B, Barrenetxe J, Martínez JA, Milagro FI. Helichrysum and grapefruit extracts inhibit carbohydrate digestion and absorption, improving postprandial glucose levels and hyperinsulinemia in rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Dec 11;61(49):12012-9. doi: 10.1021/jf4021569. Epub 2013 Nov 27.

(3) de la Garza AL1, Etxeberria U, Haslberger A, Aumueller E, Martínez JA, Milagro FI. Helichrysum and Grapefruit Extracts Boost Weight Loss in Overweight Rats Reducing Inflammation. J Med Food. 2015 Jan 19. [Epub ahead of print]

(4) Jung UJ1, Lee MK, Park YB, Kang MA, Choi MS. Effect of citrus flavonoids on lipid metabolism and glucose-regulating enzyme mRNA levels in type-2 diabetic mice. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2006;38(7):1134-45. Epub 2006 Jan 6.

(5) Jung UJ1, Lee MK, Jeong KS, Choi MS. The hypoglycemic effects of hesperidin and naringin are partly mediated by hepatic glucose-regulating enzymes in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2499-503.

(6) Fukuchi Y, Hiramitsu M, Okada M, et al. Lemon Polyphenols Suppress Diet-induced Obesity by Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in ?-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2008;43(3):201-209. doi:10.3164/jcbn.2008066.

(7) Galati E.M. Biological effects of hesperidin, a citrus flavonoid. (Note I): antiinflammatory and analgesic activity. Farmaco. 1994;40:709–712.

(8) Haidari F1, Heybar H, Jalali MT, Ahmadi Engali K, Helli B, Shirbeigi E. Hesperidin Supplementation Modulates Inflammatory Responses Following Myocardial Infarction. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015 Mar 11:1-7. [Epub ahead of print]

(9) Demonty I1, Lin Y, Zebregs YE, Vermeer MA, van der Knaap HC, Jäkel M, Trautwein EA. The citrus flavonoids hesperidin and naringin do not affect serum cholesterol in moderately hypercholesterolemic men and women. J Nutr. 2010 Sep;140(9):1615-20. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.124735. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

(10) Kathiresan S1, Otvos JD, Sullivan LM, Keyes MJ, Schaefer EJ, Wilson PW, D’Agostino RB, Vasan RS, Robins SJ. Increased small low-density lipoprotein particle number: a prominent feature of the metabolic syndrome in the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation. 2006 Jan 3;113(1):20-9. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

(11) Rizza S, Muniyappa R, Iantorno M, Kim JA, Chen H, Pullikotil P, et al.: Citrus polyphenol hesperidin stimulates production of nitric oxide in endothelial cells while improving endothelial function and reducing inflammatory markers in patients with metabolic syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011, 96:E782-E792.

(12) Zahra Bahadoran, Parvin Mirmiran, Fereidoun Azizi. Dietary polyphenols as potential nutraceuticals in management of diabetes: a review. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders. 2013, 12:43 doi:10.1186/2251-6581-12-43.

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