Flavonoids Diosmin and Hesperidin for Varicose Veins and Hemorrhoids
Also Helps Reduce AGEs
By Will Block
All's Well That Ends Well
Does it never end? commented our editor upon receiving the news that the flavonoids diosmin and hesperidin, the first rarely appearing in supplemental form, could significantly retard the advance of glycation in Type-1 diabetics, in addition to their multitude of other health benefits. Glycation is a degenerative process whereby certain proteins are chemically transformed into what are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), the accumulation of which in various tissues of the body is associated with age-related decline.
AGEs are now known to be a source of free radicals, which contribute to increased oxidative stress on the body. This in turn has been associated with diabetic complications such as increased and premature atherosclerosis, resulting in part from the increased oxidation of LDL cholesterol, cellular components, and lipoproteins, and increased morbidity and early mortality. The whistle of my editor's rhetorical comment brought to mind the significant uses of diosmin and hesperidin for improved health of the venous system (see Get RELIEF from Varicose Veins and Hemorrhoids - June 2000), which is the end portion of the cycle of cardiovascular function.
FLAVONOIDS IN PLANTS
Members of a large class of polyphenolic compounds that occur naturally in plants, flavonoids are pigments that are widespread throughout the plant kingdom.1 They provide color and other characteristics to plant foods, including many herbs used traditionally in folk medicine. More than 4000 different flavonoids have been identified to date and have been subdivided into 12 categories.2 Flavonoids, found in fruits and vegetables, are essential for protecting vitamin C from consumption by oxidative processes and are necessary to maintain capillary walls. As well, they may aid in protecting against infection. Even though ubiquitously distributed in foods, they are not present in sufficient quantities to ensure adequacy. A deficiency can result in health problems ranging from an increased tendency to bruise easily to the development of degenerative diseases.
Although technically flavonoids are not nutrients, they have been increasingly studied in recent years for their anticarcinogenic, enzyme-inhibitory (they can inhibit aromatase activity, thus blocking hormone imbalance),3 antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties, as found in many scientific studies.
A point of confusion has been the interchangeable use of the term bioflavonoids with flavonoids. Only some flavonoids are biologically active and are thus properly called bioflavonoids, signifying that they affect the human body in some way. In other words, all bioflavonoids are flavonoids, but not all flavonoids are bioflavonoids. Diosmin and hesperidin are bioflavonoids. They are active in vivo . . . in humans.
When diabetic rats were given the flavonoid diosmin, they were found to suffer significantly less oxidative lipid damage and to show reduced glycation of their hemoglobin.4 And now this same study has been conducted in humans, with similar results.
A total of 28 Type-1 insulin-dependent diabetics (18 males and 10 females) participated in the study. The subjects had a mean duration of 15 years of diabetes and ranged in age from 18 to 65 years (median age 41).5 Obesity, the use of any other antioxidants, or severe complications of diabetes were grounds for exclusion from the study.
Randomly divided into two equal groups, the subjects did not know whether they were receiving flavonoids or placebo, nor did the researchers know who got what until the end of the study. Doses consisted of 450 mg of diosmin and 50 mg of hesperidin, four times daily with meals and at bedtime, or an equivalent amount of placebo, which was indistinguishable.
At the end of three months, when the clinical baseline measurements were compared with the new data, the results were clear. Treatment with the flavonoids resulted in a decrease of glycated hemoglobin (a measure of AGE), with no side effects. The decrease was more pronounced in subjects starting with a higher initial amount of AGE. However, a reduction in AGEs was not related to fluctuations in glucose levels (glycemic control).
ENDOGENOUS ANTIOXIDANT RALLY
When AGE levels decreased, the endogenous (made within the body) activity of an enzyme antioxidant increased. The net result was improved protection against LDL oxidation. The researchers reasoned that one way by which this could be explained was through diosmin's and hesperidin's apparent ability to protect vitamins C and E from consumption by oxidative processes, thereby sparing these antioxidants.
WE ARE ALL LATENT DIABETICS
It is not only diabetics who suffer from the accumulation of AGEs - we all do. And AGEs are of grave consequence whether we have diabetes or not. Among other forms of damage they are responsible for, AGEs can ultimately cause kidney failure (see Arginine Keeps Kidneys in the Pink), even in those who never technically develop diabetes. We all suffer gradual degeneration of our insulin metabolism, with recurring and progressive damage to our insulin and glucose receptors, as we age.
THE END IS THE BEGINNING
Fortunately, the flavonoids diosmin and hesperidin are safe to use on a continuous basis. So are the flavonoid troxerutin and the phytonutrients horse chestnut and Centella asiatica, which, together with diosmin and hesperidin, can help to prevent venous insufficiency, ulcers of the lower limbs, and capillary fragility. In light of this study, these special phytochemical compounds could be referred to as double-enders, helping to end AGEs, advanced glycation end products, and varicosities, including those that appear at the end of the GI tract, hemorrhoids. "All's well that ends well." Or alternatively, because varicosities are swellings, Shakespeare's muse, had he had varicose veins or hemorrhoids, could have said All's swell that ends swell.
- Lenne-Gouverneur AF, Lobstein A, Haan-Archipoff G, Duportail G, Anton R, Kuhry JG. Interactions of the monomeric and dimeric flavones apigenin and amentoflavone with the plasma membrane of L929 cells; a fluorescence study. Mol Membr Biol 1999 Apr-Jun;16(2):157-65.
- Giugliano D. Dietary antioxidants for cardiovascular prevention. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2000 Feb;10(1):38-44.
- Jeong HJ, Shin YG, Kim IH, Pezzuto JM. Inhibition of aromatase activity by flavonoids. Arch Pharm Res 1999 Jun;22(3):309-12.
- Vertommen J, Van Den Enden M, Simoens L, De Leeuw I. Flavonoid treatment reduces glycation and lipid peroxidation in experimental diabetes rats. Phytother Res 1994;8:430-2.
- Manuel y Keenoy B, Vertommen J, De Leeuw I. The effect of flavonoid treatment on the glycation and antioxidant status in Type-1 diabetic patients. Diabetes Nutr Metab 1999 Aug;12(4):256-63.