Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the famous Hungarian scientist who discovered Vitamin C, was frustrated. Earlier his friend had come to him pleading, “Can you help me.” He was plagued with bleeding gums and all efforts to heal them failed. The doctor tried an impure form of Vitamin C and was pleased to see that the bleeding stopped. At least it stopped for a while, but then the condition returned. This time he used a pure extract of Vitamin C and expected to see even greater results. He was discouraged to find that this had no effect whatsoever on his friend’s situation. Back to the laboratory he went and began asking about the difference between the two forms of Vitamin C. Finally he discovered that the earlier supposed “impure” Vitamin C contained a substance which naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables which he named “Bioflavonoids.” When these ingredients were added to the mix, his friend’s gums stopped bleeding and this time the positive results remained.
Because these components were similar to vitamins, he nicknamed them vitamin P, and they are showing exciting promise in anti-viral, anti-allergy, and anti-inflammatory research.
Bioflavonoids, which supply color to plants, are found in fruits, vegetable, flowers, seeds and stems, as well as many herbs including Astragalus, Garlic, Ginkgo Biloba, Hawthorne Berries, Milk Thistle, etc.
Even though the Food and Drug Administration would not give Bioflavonoids the status of a Vitamin, many M.D.s began to rely upon them in their treatment of various ailments until one independent panel of doctors came to the conclusion after a single study was released that they did not have any medicinal value. The Food and Drug Administration therefore banned Bioflavonoids from use by medical practitioners in 1968.
Even though the FDA stopped physicians from prescribing Bioflavonoids, people continued to buy them in health food stores from natural sources, and found that they greatly enhanced the effects of Vitamin C. Many of the benefits of Vitamin C depend upon Bioflavonoids for their full effect.
In the early 1980′s, a time reflected to by many as the renaissance of Bioflavonoids, an article appeared in the journal “Trends in Pharmacology” which stated, “Naturally occurring Flavonoids* have potent anti-allergy, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory activity.”
In the late 1980′s many scientists who continued to study Bioflavonoids found that they were very effective in controlling many forms of viral infections, including the common cold, especially when combined with Vitamin C. “Bioflavonoids are indicated in all inflammatory and allergic states”, according to Naturopathic doctor Michael Murray. They appear to directly influence the factors involved in inflammation and allergy. They also help to stabilize cell membranes and decrease the contraction of smooth muscle.
In addition they aid normal collagen metabolism (collagen is a fiber like protein that makes up bone, skin, tendons and cartilage). Bioflavonoids prevent the breakdown of vitamin C, improve capillary activity and stabilize the collagen matrix by preventing free radical damage and cross-linking with collagen fibers to form a more stable collagen matrix.
The Bioflavonoids vaccinium myrtillus (blueberry) and rutin have been used to strengthen and nourish the eyes with positive effects on vision.
Strengthening the capillaries with Bioflavonoids has also been effective in reducing the side-effects of menopause. Connective tissue can also be improved which reduces the dangers of infection and heart disease.
Bioflavonoids have been used to help reduce recovery time from sports injuries, to thin the blood safely, and to balance blood sugar.
One of the most exciting discoveries today is the use of Grape Seed Extract in nourishing the immune system. Research has shown that much of Grape Seed’s activity is caused by the high level of Bioflavonoids which they contain. The Flavonoids* in Grape Seed Extract may be 20 – 30 times as effective as Vitamin E in their antioxidant activity.
Bioflavonoids are usually extracted from citrus fruit, such as lemons. They vary in strength and the least potent forms are often diluted with milk sugar (lactose). For this reason it is important to find those that are full potency.
In summary, if Vitamin C is indicated for any health condition, it would make sense to include full potency, non-diluted Bioflavonoids to secure the full benefits of both.
* Bioflavonoids are sometimes referred to as Flavonoids
Doctor’s Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia. Sheldon Saul Hendler, M.D., Ph.D. Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y. (c) 1990.
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, ND Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. (c) 1991.
Nutritional Influences on Illness. Melvyn R. Werbach, MD Third Line Press, Tarzana, CA. (c) 1996.
Gary Null’s Ultimate Anti-Aging Program. Gary Null, Ph.D. Broadway Books, New York, NY (c) 1999.