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I am fascinated at the origins of many Ayurvedic medicines. One that always intrigued me was the notion that the white part, or the pith, of the orange or pomegranate was a powerful medicine for the heart, lymph and circulation.
New research is confirming the value of this ancient Ayurvedic medicine. The pith of citrus fruits is indeed loaded with health-promoting nutrients! So, next time you peel an orange, grapefruit or pomegranate, make sure you get your fair share of the pith as well.
One of the active constituents of citrus pith is called modified citrus pectin (MCP). MCP is rich in certain sugar molecules called galactosides, which bind to and inactivate a group of damaging molecules called galectin-3. (1)
Galectin-3 molecules are actually helpful to the body, but in excess can cause problems. Under certain conditions the galectin-3 molecules race to the sites of tissue damage, and one of its repair mechanisms is to produce scar tissue. However, too much scar tissue can lead to a host of cardiovascular health risks, lymph congestion (cellulite), kidney problems and unhealthy cell division. (1)
Modified citrus pectin binds to the galectin-3 and deactivates it. Imagine the body laying down excess scar tissue in the arteries in an attempt to heal – scary thought, huh? MCP stops the galectin-3 from laying down unwanted and potentially harmful scar tissue – so eat the white stuff!
The pith of most citrus fruits is also loaded with a well-researched citrus flavonoid called diosmin. It has been utilized for decades to support healthy capillary and vein function, as well as healthy microcirculation throughout the body. Diosmin fundamentally helps maintain the structure and function of the circulatory system, especially vein strength and competence. (2)
In pharmacological and clinical studies, diosmin from the citrus pith promoted normal lymph drainage, healthy capillary permeability, and favorable microcirculation. (3) Microcirculation and lymph congestion can compromise healthy venous drainage in the legs as well as cause a build-up of poorly circulated fat in the form of cellulite.
By understanding the dynamics of the lymph system and its relation to stress, microbes and digestion, we can help boost the drains of the body, as well as prevent lymph congestion and cellulite.