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The Crazy Drink This Functional Doc Orders At Starbucks To Reverse Aging

November 5, 2018

Bergamot is one of my favorite oils to recommend in my functional medicine clinic for its powerful healing abilities. Bergamot is a plant that produces an orange/lemon-like citrus fruit, also known as the bergamot orange. Although it is not common to eat this fruit on its own, it can be reduced into the highly favorable bergamot oil. The oil itself comes from the rind of the bergamot orange through a process called cold pressing, which crushes the rind until the oils drop out. This fruit is mostly produced in Italy but is also native to Southeast Asia, Argentina, Morocco, Brazil, and Turkey.

One of the reasons I recommend bergamot so often is because it really is a jack-of-all-trades with aiding in your health both mentally and physically. There are a few smaller benefits of bergamot oil.

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Bergamot oil helps alleviate depression.

Depression is a mental health disorder that affected nearly 7 percent of adults and 12.8 percent of adolescents with one or more major episodes in 2016. This disorder is described as persistent sad and/or hopeless feelings, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and loss of interest in hobbies. Depression can also have physical effects such as insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, and excessive weight gain or loss. Fortunately, bergamot oil can be used to combat depression due to its uplifting and mood-boosting qualities. 

In 2008, a study1 was performed on hospice patients with terminal cancer. Half of the patients received a five-minute hand massage with a carrier oil for seven days while the other half received the same hand massage with bergamot, lavender, and frankincense essential oils added to the carrier oil. After the week had gone by, the patients who received the essential oil hand massages showed significant and positive changes with their depression by simply enjoying the aromatics of the three essential oils.

Bergamot oil reduces anxiety.

Aside from depression, bergamot can also help those struggling with anxiety or overwhelming stress. While it is an uplifter, it can also act as a calming and soothing agent that can help relieve stress. Another study2 was performed in 2006 that looked into the effects of inhaling bergamot, lavender, and ylang ylang in regards to stress, anxiety, and cortisol levels. The group that experienced this aromatherapy blend every day for four weeks showed lowered psychological stress responses. This means the outside stressors of life had less of an effect on their physical and emotional well-being after being exposed to the bergamot oil scent every day.

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Bergamot oil is antibacterial and antifungal.

One of the many ways bergamot can be physically beneficial to your body is the infection-fighting power that it has. Bergamot can suppress bacteria, germs, and fungus to stop the growth and prevent any further growth. Due to the chemical compounds in this oil, it is antibiotic and disinfectant. This is why it is used extensively in hand and body soaps to inhibit the spread of common infections. It is also known to help manage urinary tract, colon, intestinal, kidney, and candida infections3.

The main reason I use bergamot oil, though? To slow the aging process.

I love intermittent fasting to lower inflammation, increase ketosis, and enhance something called autophagy.

Autophagy is the process in which the body clears out any old or damaged cells that are not working properly in order to generate healthy cells. When diseases form in the body, it is not always a black-and-white situation—you're not completely healthy one day and have the disease the next day. Disease manifests in the body by developing in the weak, damaged cells and grows over time to also take over the stronger and newer cells. Autophagy protects against disease by removing any old cells that are more susceptible before a disease has the opportunity to form, making it an extremely important process to ensure continued health.

Along with fighting disease, autophagy can slow down the aging process. When old cells are cleaned out and new, healthy cells are being formed faster, you can continue to feel and look young. While many people deal with the physical pains of aging due to cell destruction, it really doesn't have to be this way. Boosting cell regeneration can keep muscles, joints, and bones healthy and strong. This also helps with the visible aging process as autophagy keeps skin rejuvenated and young.

The good news is that each person's autophagy process is not dictated solely by genetics and biology. It can actually be boosted to work more efficiently just through simple health decisions that are made on a daily basis.

Bergamot oil is one of the polyphenols that contain natural healing properties at cellular levels that increase and induce the autophagy process4. These polyphenols are compounds found in plants that protect the plant from any damage. And as it protects the plant, when eaten it also protects our bodies by boosting our autophagy process. Including bergamot in your daily life will help clean out any damaged cells as well as promoting new cell growth.

Green tea, and black tea in smaller amounts, contains EGCG, which is another one of the polyphenols that specifically boosts autophagy and protects the ends of DNA against damage5. There's one tea that combines all of the benefits of bergamot with all the benefits of tea: the beloved Earl Grey, found at pretty much everyone's local coffee shop (including Starbucks, which I hit up for the beverage during my frequent travels around the country!). The theaflavins are present in black tea from the catechins transforming through oxidation making it full of powerful antioxidants. Black tea, and all teas, also contain antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral benefits. You could say the tea and bergamot combination of Earl Grey tea gives you a super bacterial and viral-fighting morning drink.

I sip on organic Earl Grey tea (make sure it has real bergamot and not just bergamot flavor) while I intermittent fast to enhance autophagy. If you don't have Earl Grey tea on hand, you can mix a drop or two of bergamot oil to black tea to create the same taste and benefits of the popular tea. Along with the tea, bergamot oil can be added to different kinds of food as well to add a citrus flavor to dips, desserts, and any other meal.

Delicious, age reversing, and readily available? If that's not a health trend to get behind, I don't know what is.

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William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.
William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C.

Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He has holds a level 2 Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) certification. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Cole specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and the New York Times bestseller Intuitive Fasting.

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