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Lowering Cholesterol

Posted by silversword 9A (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 19, 09 at 14:30

Anyone have any ideas on lowering high cholesterol with herbs?*

*Disclaimer:
No one is going to avoid going to the doctor to get diagnosed or to use the advice of anyone here in lieu of a physician. All information requested is for discussion only and will not be interpreted as anything other than reasonable discourse. Please refrain from requesting or providing hard evidence (except as a link) as I will refer to my physician for such data.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

I'll tell you what I know... I know that some people's cholesterol is high largely due to a bad diet, and lack of exercise. But I also know there are a lot of people whose high cholesterol is "familial", which means inherited, and (for me anyhow) all the proper food in the world (and lack of the wrong stuff) barely scratch the surface. One month on the right 'statin' drugs and my cholesterol dropped like a stone by almost a half. Now, I no longer take statins (have used various ones over years) because I have a personal (also genetic) intolerance to statins, but probably most people don't (wouldn't want to scare anyone off). The thing is that cholesterol is not something I think is likely to radically change with the use of some herb(s) alone. You might get lucky with diet and exercise, and quite honestly I think if you're in that group of people who do, then herbs probably wouldn't matter one way or the other. I also think if your cholesterol is familial, a simple herb or two will definitely not make a difference - if it did, I'd definitely know about it, and so would an awful lot of other people.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

I prefer the folklore approach. My grandmother was raised eating the Mediterranean diet (on the shore of the Mediterranean as a child). From picking greens on the mountain side, eating lots of olive oil, fresh fruits and veggies, lots of herbs, fish, and chicken (little red meat), and whole grains - the end result is a diet that markedly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

I've heard rumors that science is coming around to my family's quaint and primitive approach to diet, although some here dismiss the idea that we should pick greens and boil them for dinner simply because our grandparents did that. After all, the fogies couldn't have 'known' anything valuable because they did not derive their knowledge in purely scientific ways.

Olive oil is one good food/herb for cholesterol. Alone, it's not enough. But it has measurably good effects on the lipids.

Here is a link that might be useful: Olive oil in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

A caution on olive oil. If a person with a heart condition requiring taking of blood thinners uses olive oil the olive oil should be exposed to sunlight for a minimum of 4 hours. I do it for 2 days. This will destroy the Vitamen K in olive oil. People on blood thinners need to limit their Vitamen K amounts to keep their blood at the right thickness. This is the same as a green vegetable. As Silversword suggests talk to your doctor concerning the correct amount of K in your diet.

The sunlight probably destroyes other vitamens also. As the old saying goes one mans meat is another mans poison.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Here's a review of herbs that may help control cholesterol levels, co-written by Britain's best-known professor of alternative medicine.

"There is some evidence from randomized clinical trials that guggul (Commiphora mukul), fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), artichoke (Cynara scolymus), yarrow (Achillea wilhelmsii), holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), red yeast (Monascus purpureus) rice, eggplant (Solanum melongena), and arjun (Terminalia arjuna) reduce serum cholesterol.

The evidence is not conclusive for any of the products, although preliminary clinical trials seem promising; further research is warranted.

Safety profiles from clinical trials appear encouraging, but the long-term safety has not been established; herb-drug interactions may be possible with milk thistle (Silybum marianum), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), guggul, and fenugreek."

Of all these, red yeast rice is probably the best known (it has the same active ingredient found in the prescription drug Mevacor). Problems with the supplement on the market include the highly variable amount of active ingredient (ranging from too low to be effective, to as high as in the prescription product (and some red yeast rice products are thought to have been deliberately spiked with the drug form). Another contaminant has also recently come to light:

"A US product survey has found that four out of ten red yeast rice supplements were contaminated with a fungal substance called citrinin that has been linked with kidney problems in animal and human populations."

And yes, people with dangerously high cholesterol, especially if they have concurrent health problems (notably cardiovascular ones) would be smart to talk to their doctor and not rely solely on what they learn from people on the Internet.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Lucy has brought up some very good points about cholesterol. I would like to add that cholesterol readings by themselves do not tell the entire story. You also need to know your triglycerides, homocysteine and C-reactive protein levels. The body does need some cholesterol to function. The numbers that are deemed "optimal" keep changing. I had an MD say (a military doctor at that) to just take 1/2 teaspoon of Metamucil daily (not a laxative dose) to keep cholesterol lowered somewhat. Fiber can help some cases with high cholesterol. (Didn't for me.) That doc didn't buy into the cholesterol scare and always went for a more moderate approach.

Guggul, artichoke leaf and milk thistle seem to be effective for some people. Always check with your health care provider to see what brands/doses are correct for you.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Thank you every body!!

It's for my dad, actually :) He has really high cholesterol (and IMO, no wonder, since he loves steak, bread, butter, and ice cream a little too much!!!)

When I asked him what he was doing about it, he said his doctor put him on some kind of drug (I think Lipator?) but he said his other doctor wanted to take a more holistic approach and that the drug could be harmful. I asked him about his diet and he said that basically he didn't want to give up eating...

groan....

I can understand his point, we live only once and eating is a big part of his life, but at the same time I do think some modifications would help so that he can get healthier and still be able to eat that 16oz steak, baked potato with all the trimmings, half loaf of bread with a half cube of butter and soup bowl full of ice cream on occasion. (and he'd do it all in one sitting too!)

He's not particularly "fat" as he is a tall, big man but he could stand to get some exercise, especially at his age. Hopefully he will start at least walking around the neighborhood a few nights a week.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Cholesterol lowering medication is not suitable for everybody. There are some who are told they just can't take it for several reasons.
Consider these less obvious cases.
For those individuals with low blood pressure, & whose blood pressure drops further when they first stand up (orthostatic), there is another consideration. This is because some of these drugs have a potential side effect to weaken muscles.
Orthostatic blood pressure is a risk factor for swaying/staggering into dangerous objects & possibly even falling. If there is drug induced muscle weakness for these people they may eventually be more likely to fall.
Falls are a serious cause of geriatric health impairment & the elderly are a target population for cholesterol drugs.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

>> I would like to add that cholesterol readings by themselves do not tell the entire story. You also need to know your triglycerides, homocysteine and C-reactive protein levels.

True. And things like platelet aggregation, nitric oxide levels, etc are also important. Cholesterol levels are one clue of risk, but I believe about half of all people have good cholesterol levels prior to their first heart attack. The cholesterol tests currently given to people account for 30-40% of our risk. Useful, but far from complete.

>> I had an MD say (a military doctor at that) to just take 1/2 teaspoon of Metamucil daily (not a laxative dose) to keep cholesterol lowered somewhat.

Psyllium fiber (the ingredient in Metamucil) can generally lead to moderate reductions in LDL cholesterol. So can oat fiber. Doesn't work for every one, or may not be enough. These soluble fibers bind cholesterol in the gut and carry it out, reducing the amount that is reabsorbed in the body.

Herbalists might consider this a type of intestinal cleanse, although others would argue that such cleansing is completely unnecessary since the intestines of a healthy person always do a good job without any help. And yet, so many doctors recommend soluble fiber to aid the intestines, and statins to aid the liver. ;)


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Interesting on the Psyllium. I know there's no way to say something will work for everyone, just wondering what natural things have been shown to work.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

I was surprised when last year my doctor told me that my triglycerides could be lowered by reducing my carbs. I had always thought that they were a result of fats not carbs. This year he has me trying fish oil caps. There are some food people that suggest that using butter is better than using spreads because of the way your body digests them.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Carbs can have tons of sugar in them and they all turn to fat once in your body.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Hi maifleur,
Your doctor's advice was most likely to try to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you ate at one time &/or their intake frequency.
Triglycerides are one way the body recycles the energy we ate. It is a fractional component of cholesterol that herds around 3 (tri-) processed sugar (-gly-) molecules in the circulatory system.
When we digest an excess of energy it will not all get used. If we have a lot of broken down carbohydrate sugars inside us then one of cholesterol's lipid roles is to bundle 3 of them into a stable form.
Circumstances allow some populations too much energy consumption;
triglycerides are not "bad", but forming too many of them is a risk factor.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Lucy the body needs a certain amount of carbs for proper funtion. If you limit your carbs too much you can be doing damage to your brain and other functions of your body.

Remember there are good and bad carbs.

My problem is I am a foodie. I even gain weight dreaming about food.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Maifleur, I never said to limit carbs or anything else. I was just clarifying (I thought) what your MD said and what was meant. Gringojay probably did a better job than I did though.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Lucy this is what you said. "Carbs can have tons of sugar in them and they all turn to fat once in your body." I worked with people that first thought all fats were bad, then all carbs. Carbs may not be sugar but starches change to sugars to be used in our bodies. Carbs can also be found in most fruits and veggies which some people do not consider as carbs.

As you can see your statement can be read several different ways. Many people do think all processed carbs are bad however some such as soybeans, corn, & wheat must be processed to provide the body with usable nutritian and prevent the loss/inability to absorb certain vitamens. Gringojay can probably tell which ones. B comes to my mind but not certain. More education


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

>> ... the body needs a certain amount of carbs for proper funtion. If you limit your carbs too much you can be doing damage to your brain and other functions of your body.

For most people, that is not true ... for some people with particular conditions, yes, possibly.

Eskimos routinely go months without eating any carbs. Caucasian arctic explorers have done the same with no apparent ill effects. Humans evolved to store sugars as fats, and then burn the fats when there are no starch or sugar available. There are alternative metabolic pathways that use fats and ketones, and these get switched on when carbs are in short supply. Exercise can create this condition temporarily. Fasting or calorie restriction can do the same, as can carb restriction.

In the medium to long term, I think it is clear that plant foods (including some carbs) are beneficial. But restricting carbs turns on these alternative pathways and can be useful in reversing hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carbohydrate restriction as the default treatment for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Maifleur - you said my note can be read in different ways - I think some of them might be imaginary. At no time did I say to limit anything, including carbs. All I did was to give you scientific information, that sugar is in fact turned to fat in the body (not necessarily ALL sugars, but the majority) and processed as such. If you don't like the information, I'm sorry, but don't attribute things to me that I never said.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Lucy, not attributing anything. Just reading verbatum what you said. Sorry if you took my reading of your comment at it's face value wrong.

You may/may not have been in the workforce when the no fat, high carb diets were the rage. No one counted calories just carbs. Then the diet craze went the other way. All protein with fat, no carbs. Not a healthy diet for anyone.

Most of them when I retired were doing a modified diet. One of my points was that based on my experience with diets and people most are not aware that anything other than flour products have carbs. An interesting thing is to ask the group that you are with if certain fruits and vegetables have carbs. Keeping in mind that some things like corn start out as one type and change to starch.

Apollog's link is quite interesting. I wish doctors/general public would reconize metabolic syndrome early to help prevent many problems. On BBC I read of one study that by removing the first part of the small intestine that metabolic syndrome could be arrested. I have not seen anything since. It was to be published in Lancet if anyone has access.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

OK, got where you're coming from. Funny thing is that I haven't been on this forum for a long time due to the madness of a poster who is no longer around, but I realize I've come back in a definitely defensive mood because of them (won't ID who they are now), so was already to get into it with you, but it's so nice not going there, being able to have an exchange of ideas without a flame war! PS - don't know how long you've been retired, but we're a lot closer in age obviously than I think you think, and in fact I remember diets that you've forgotten :-). I do know that for me, high cholesterol and all, the Atkins/protein thing works fast and well (though it's almost impossible to avoid some carbs after all), compared to others (though I'm not a 'dieter', never needed to be one until a lot more recently than otherwise). Metabolic syndrome is a consequence of our society, and how sad is it that we want to chop pieces off ourselves to 'fix' it! I do have a pretty good take on what foods are made up of though, for the record, e.g. starch is sugar is fat is... so can we KAMU? We're probably going to agree on it all anyhow :-).


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

I understand about the defensive mood. that was me the last about 5 years at work. I just retired last September at 60 and the area I worked in had gotten so PC that all I could do was to laugh at myself and everyone in the whole area. The things that finally got to me was having someone rant because our area never gave instructions when I was the only one doing so and hyper-religious people studying the Watchtower and not being aware what group published it. Then being offended because I did not want to join the group.

I was/am borderline metabolic syndrome so I do watch what I put in my mouth. It helps that I had a great aunt that was dietian.

I do tick people off so go for it if I say anything you think is out of line. It does not worry me too much unless it could be dangerous to someone without any experience then I will try and explain the whys.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Wow... once had to work with a religious person (and other supporters) in an institution which I had expected to be just the opposite, and it made my life hell because of it. People can believe what they want, but have no business laying it on anyone else, especially at work. I do hope things go well for you - can I get personal here and ask if you've ever looked into a sleep study looking for apnea? It's because a lot of recent studies have linked the two, and often people with metabolic syndrome who are treated properly for apnea (with Cpap, not surgery and not junky dental devices) find their conditions really improve (it's getting all that 02 - a secondary benefit of Cpap, though not 02 actually formally delivered the way a COPD patient might have it done) and getting enough really good sleep that does it, and if you're borderline, it might be worth a shot at not going over the edge. I could tell you more about it if you're interested.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Have had a Cpap for four years now. Just changed from 8 to 12. Have lung problem classified as COPD because cillia do not move the way they should and muscles in lungs do not clear properly. Thanks to modern machines testing showed only had 30% ashma, which surprisingly I was told was normal for most people???, but inability to blow air out. Have started singing my form of opera to expand lung volume and using a blowing tube to increase flow.

When I turned 56 my body decided to do what it wanted. I am working on life and enjoying each day.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Are you using the Cflex feature on your machine (assuming you have one)? I know what you mean about turning 50-something - it's like everything just decides to give up and go crazy all at once! Very annoying :-).


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Mine does not have the Cflex but let's get back to the original reason for this thread Lowering Cholesterol.

Sorry about diversion to my problems.

One of the things that are listed in some herbals is oats. Over the years the various suggestions for oats usage has moved back and forth from steel cut oats to old fashion crimped oats to toasted oats. Those of you who have several generations of herbals have seen some of the changes in usage suggestions.

Since cholesterol is part of the gall the bladder releases in my mind any herb that effects the gall bladder would also have an effect up or down on cholesterol. One book by Ody, "Home Herbal suggests the use of fringe tree bark, fumitory, and vervain tinctures for gallbladder problems.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

What do you mean "cholesterol is part of the gall the bladder releases"? The bladder doesn't 'release' anything but urine, the gallbladder doesn't really release anything, and cholesterol is more likely (Eric?) to be released through the colonic system I think, if you're lucky enough to have some be released at all.


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

>>> What do you mean "cholesterol is part of the gall the bladder releases"? The bladder doesn't 'release' anything but urine, the gallbladder doesn't really release anything, and cholesterol is more likely (Eric?) to be released through the colonic system I think, if you're lucky enough to have some be released at all.

No, No, No!

"Bile is a complex fluid containing water, electrolytes and a battery of organic molecules including bile acids, cholesterol, phospholipids and bilirubin that flows through the biliary tract into the small intestine....Secretion into bile is a major route for eliminating cholesterol." (sourced in link below)

This is one reason that many herbalists use a combination of herbs that stimulate the gallbladder (like dandelion) along with soluble fiber. The bile flow is increased, and the soluble fiber binds (adsorbs) to the cholesterol and carries it out of the body.

Here is a link that might be useful: Secretion of Bile and the Role of Bile Acids In Digestion


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RE: Lowering Cholesterol

Oops, didn't realize that! But now that you explain it that way it makes sense.


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