Citrus x paradisi Ø

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February 1, 2017 by unclespike218

(In other words, grapefruit tincture.)

I’ve always loved grapefruit. Something about the bitter zing it offers raises it above the realm of the (usually) boring orange. Don’t get me wrong…I do love me some oranges…some of them can be heavenly. But for the most part, I’ll take the more complex grapefruit. (Since when was citrus supposed to be bitter? Sweet…duh. Sour, sure. But bitter? Intriguing…)

My adventures with garlic tincture having been a great success, it was only a matter of time before I started moving on to other possibilities. And yet again, I stumbled across something that has virtually no presence on the world wide webiverse. Grapefruit bitters, sure. They’re awesome in drinks, and given that it’s the 2010s, having drinks with exotic flavors in them is all the rage. So you can find recipes and discussions galore. But I’m looking, once again, to the grapefruit purely for its medicinal value. And that, my friends, is where the internet fails us…and where I venture into uncharted territory.

So why even create this in the first place? As with garlic, I wanted to make taking in the benefits of the grapefruit as simple and painless as possible. Eating garlic raw can be quite hard on digestion, and waiting 15 minutes after slicing a clove until the maximum amount of allicin is released…well, we all have better things to do with our time, don’t we? So having a tincture makes this simple. (I assume. Go to my post about garlic for more discussion.) Likewise, grapefruit is not always to everyone’s taste, and drinking the juice or eating a half for days on end can get tiresome. Distilling the greatest concentration of the fruit’s nutritional largesse – the peel – into a tincture one can just drop into the mouth easily is ideal. So there I went.

The big player in grapefruit – and the one that most other fruit lacks – is naringenin, an antioxidant and flavonoid with tremendous benefits. (A what? Flavonoid. Stick two phenyl rings together and attach them to a heterocyclic ring, and add a ketone to the middle phenyl ring. There’s your basic flavonoid. Duh. Simple as making the glue for Post-Its, right?) Turns out that naringenin does massive duties in the body. To wit:

  • Kicks ass over cancer – lung, colon, stomach, for three. I bet it’s effective against many more.
  • May reduce LDL cholesterol (in animal studies, at least)
  • Improves hypertension (again, in animal studies)
  • Reduces damage to DNA and may even repair damaged DNA
  • May reduce chronic inflammation associated with lifestyle diseases prevalent in what my old pathology instructor termed the “overdeveloped world.”
  • May help block production of the hepatitis C virus
  • May help reduce the production of atheromas (plaques) in atherosclerosis
  • May improve the metabolism of lipids and reduce adipose tissue
  • Helps with steatotic hepatitis (I’d imagine whether alcohol-related or not)

 

So, pretty impressive, right? I was especially drawn to the last one, seeing as how (ominous timpani beats here) yours truly, lucky me, is dealing with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. Elevated liver enzymes for decades for no apparent reason, possibly (but not conclusively) aggravated by long-term antiseizure medication, and without a doubt aggravated by size (if you go by what I consider the draconian BMI charts, I’m currently 115 pounds overweight, with a sizeable belly – my choice, not kvetching about it). But the annoying thing? Those enzymes were elevated even when I was 100 pounds lighter. Go fig.

So. Making this is pretty simple. Buy organic grapefruit – two or three should do it. Peel it like an orange. The albedo (the white pith) doesn’t come off half as easily as it does with oranges, so ya gotta be tough on it. Then dice it all. (Necessary, I found, to help everything fit as cleanly as possible. Don’t leave irregularly-shaped pieces of peel that’d take up too much space.) Throw it all into a glass jar, add a cup of 80-100 proof vodka, and add another cup of Everclear. (The higher concentration of ethanol is necessary to absorb more of the goods. And that’s very technical scientific talk: goods. I should probably expound on that when doing further research, eh wot? Oh, okay: the nonpolar, relatively hydrophobic oils, like citronellol and citronellal.) Oh, and eat the grapefruit, because it’s yummy, see? Now…do the same when you’re ready to eat another grapefruit. Dice the peel and albedo up again, and throw it into the same jar. Everything should be covered up well by the alcohol. Shake it all daily for about 3 weeks. Then strain it and…well, there you have it. A beautiful deep salmon-colored tincture ready to go.

My next thought: wouldn’t it be good to frappefy it all together in a blender to really get all the goods (yup, scientific cred intact), and strain the pulp? Make it super strong? I haven’t quite made it to the last step in the tincture making process (that’s tomorrow), but I’m contemplating doing it.

Another thought: naringenin, the unique bioflavonoid in grapefruit, is kinda hard to absorb by the GI tract. I wonder if taking it sublingually might be a way to get past this. Reason I say this: I’ve been trying my tincture early, because I’m an impatient bastard, and it looked so good, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened. I noticed minor effects like minor, transient stomach cramps, deeper breathing, increased energy, and in general, a mild, transient sense of euphoria, like I really had done something my body appreciated. (Well, aside from those stomach cramps.) I took the tincture, just a few drops, but took it sublingually. Or at least near-sublingually. Some drops on my tongue over the past few days, some straight onto the sublingual mucosa. The stomach cramps likely indicate that the tincture did find its way down my gullet and into the stomach, true. And the euphoria indicates that at least some of the beneficial parts made it into the rest of my body. So some absorption took place. Was it through the sublingual veins? Of course, there are many other beneficial and active components in grapefruit peel and pith that are probably more easily absorbed, so those may have made it into my body and had the beneficial effects I experienced.

Well, at any rate, I don’t see much of a downside to making these tinctures and experimenting with them. So why not? Next up on the list: lemon!

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