Herbs and Supplements to Regulate Cholesterol
You may have high cholesterol and not even know it. Known as the ‘silent killer’, a build up of cholesterol in your arteries can cause them to be blocked and result in more complications such as heart attacks and strokes.
Who is vulnerable?
There are many reasons why cholesterol can affect you – it is not simply always about weight or lifestyle. Other factors include:
- Parental heritage
- Medical history – blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
All or some of these are contributory factors along with dietary habits. But don’t despair, you can lower or regulate your cholesterol with the aid of herbs and supplements and a variety of foodstuffs all of which are readily available.
Always visit your medical practitioner before embarking on any changes to your intake, particularly if you have existing medical conditions. Simple blood tests will determine the level of cholesterol in your body.
Simply put, you have both good and bad cholesterol in your body. It is naturally produced in the liver as a protective lipoprotein (HDL).It is the other side of the coin, the bad cholesterol (LDL) which needs to be regulated or virtually obliterated. Herbs, spices, foodstuffs and supplements will certainly help to lower or regulate your cholesterol.
Will I get high cholesterol?
Nobody can actually answer this concisely – overall, women are slightly more susceptible, but men from post-puberty to middle age (particularly 35-50 years) show statistically that they are more vulnerable. Work, lifestyle and diet certainly play a major factor in this age group.
Changing/Supplementing your diet
You definitely need to make changes if you are suffering from high cholesterol – it won’t just go away overnight! Your medical practitioner may often instantly prescribe statins to lower cholesterol levels. Better not to immediately reach for what you think is a quick fix by swallowing a few ‘chemicals’, but try to diagnose your diet and use healthier alternatives to the manufactured solutions created by the large pharmaceutical conglomerates.
All supplements should have the approval of the FDA in the US. When choosing your supplements, be careful to purchase from a reputable company who have FDA approval.
Treat Yourself to Herbal Remedies
Herbs and spices not only improve your dietary intake, but also provide tasty alternatives to shop bought dressings and processed foods, which are quite often full of bad fats, stabilizers and other ‘nasties’ that do not enhance your chances of lowering cholesterol. Many herbs and spices are now available in extract form, either by powder or tablet, but for flavor in food, you have the choice of fresh or dried.
For thousands of years, the Chinese and Indian races in particular have sworn by the use of herbs and spices as natural remedies for many diseases or lifestyle complications. If you are serious about controlling your cholesterol, you should take a long look at the benefits of using certain herbs in your food or supplements. Take a look at some of the great cholesterol-busting herbs and supplements available to you – it won’t take long, just a few minutes to add much more to your life.
Many supplements contain herbal extracts to aid in lowering cholesterol. Such herbs are:
Alfalfa in the form of fresh alfafa sprouts or more concentrated in powder form, will help de-clog your arteries if they have become affected or congested with waxy cholesterol.
Used for centuries but little known, it is usually omnipresent in powder form which originates from the bark of the tree. Certainly beneficial in dissolving cholesterol and possibly reducing the chance of heart attacks.
Perhaps a strange one! Extract of artichoke leaf is purported to reduce the level of bad cholesterol, promote liver health and is somewhat of an all-purpose aid to the digestive system and bowel performance. There have certainly been no reports of adverse effects when taking artichoke leaf extract supplement – on the contrary.
Originating in the Middle East, North Africa and India, this herbal root is now developed in the US. Originally used to strengthen the immune system, it is now used as a supplement to lower ‘bad cholesterol’. It has widespread usage for treating many conditions.
One for the guys – rumor has it that it enhances sexual potency, but this also applies to women as well. We would determine this as a restorative herb or root which will aid in the reduction of cholesterol, recuperation post-illness and a general increase in strength and well-being. Other benefits include:
- Reduction in stress levels and anxiety
- Reduces blood sugar levels
- Helps concentration, mental ability and brain cell development
Recommended dosage per day for adult males is 600 – 1000mg. Available as a supplement in capsule form, it can also be useful for getting you off to a good nights’ sleep, if you are prone to insomnia or sleeping difficulties.
We regard this as a powerhouse herb, whether taken naturally or as a supplement.
Another natural alkaloid found in several plants and has been used in Chinese medicine since around 3000 B.C.
Berberine HCL is used as a dietary supplement and research shows that it can stabilize ‘bad cholesterol’ in the blood at the same time as protecting and raising the level of ‘good cholesterol’. The ultimate effect is the reduction in the risk of heart disease. Overall, Berberine has amazing properties, including:
- Enhances immune system
- Gastrointestinal friendly
- Liver-friendly (important for inhibiting the production of cholesterol)
- Aids the treatment of Diabetes Type 2
- Aids in the healing of burns, cuts and wounds
Berberine supplements are usually a compound of several different herbs and plants. Up to 1500mg dosage per day is recommended, but it is essential that you consult your health professional on possible side effects if you are on other medications.
Scientific studies show that it is as effective as manufactured pharmaceuticals from drug companies.
Essentially a compound of chromium, a trace element, and picolinate, an acid produced naturally in the body, the combination of the two can aid in lowering the cholesterol levels in your body.
Most frequently used as a nutritional supplement, it is also used to treat Type 2 Diabetes as well as cholesterol. As chromium is only needed in small quantities in the body, dosage levels should be kept to a minimum.
Cinnamon is a well-known spice, found in many delicious desserts and certain savory dishes, such as tagines from Morocco. However, cinnamon has other important properties other than making something taste good.
In certain studies carried out in the US, cinnamon has been trialed as an aid to reducing both blood sugar levels and also cholesterol. Even more importantly, some weeks after the trials had finished, both levels of blood sugar and cinnamon had maintained the reduction.
Ground cinnamon can be used in tea or coffee as an extra flavoring, but is also available in tablet form.
Mainly aids kidney function – but this flushes out unnecessary cholesterol from the body. Use naturally in salads and hot dishes such as curries. If you drink a lot of water, try infusing coriander into the water with some fresh lime juice. If you drink this cold from the fridge, it is very refreshing as well as helping reduce cholesterol.
Coriander extract found in supplements will assist in reducing cholesterol in total, but like any extract, it is only long term that you will begin to see the benefits and results.
We have chosen the cranberry extract, rather than cranberry juice, as this can be a nightmare to choose in any supermarket, without checking sugar levels.
Cranberries do have a great source of anti-inflammatory properties, reducing blood pressure as well as bad cholesterol levels, treating bladder infections and soothing stomach problems such as ulcers. Whilst not clinically proven to provide huge results in lowering cholesterol levels, studies do show a small decrease in LDL, or bad cholesterol.
Studies have shown that fennel seed extract can be beneficial in the treatment of lowering cholesterol. Research has been conducted since 1990 on the use of this aromatic and aniseed-flavored herb with results being quite positive but not conclusive. It certainly will not harm or hinder the condition and has, in certain trials, lowered cholesterol up to 38%.
The magical garlic – an enhancing herb/root that will double your chances of lowering harmful cholesterol. Two or three cloves a day will have an amazing effect on reducing cholesterol levels. Try to eat with another herb such as parsley, and you won’t have bad breath afterwards. Alternatively, have hot milk infused with garlic if you find this more palatable. There are also garlic supplements in the form of tablets readily available on the market.
Fresh ginger in food will certainly aid the reduction of cholesterol. Ginger extract is also available in most health food shops or online.
Ginseng has been heralded for many years as a ‘cure all’ natural medication for a number of lifestyle diseases including bad cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), anxiety and stress.
Many Chinese physicians also believe that it aids in the production of testosterone in males and increases energy. This ancient herbal supplement is probably one of the most readily available in the world today.
Yes, this is quite a new one even with our knowledge. Used for many years in Ayurvedic treatment, it is highly recommended by those using Indian medicine and practices for the treatment of high cholesterol. 25mg, three times a day is the mantra for this particular herb.
This is also delicious with tomato salads as part of your diet to reduce cholesterol. With added garlic as part of your salad, you have a power punch cholesterol buster. Basil helps to dissolve cholesterol build up in the arteries, and the tomato and garlic salad accompaniment with be somewhat of a triple whammy. You can also use basil to infuse water – just like coriander, a refreshing and healthy drink.
Holy Basil is also known as Tulsi and can be purchased in supplement form. It is believe to lower cholesterol as well as relieve stress and anxiety.
This is more of a vitamin supplement with multi-uses, as it contains both A B vitamins, which are naturally contained in meat, fish and dairy products. It should not be used in quantities as a substitute for consuming natural food products, unless recommended by your physician. It has been proven to lower bad cholesterol, but should be consumed on a regulated basis if taken in tablet form. It is certainly worth a mention, as some herbal supplements contain niacin, so do read the labels.
Red Yeast Rice
Controversial to say the least – it is a naturally occurring statin in the form of a fungus that grows on the rice. One of the latest ‘buzz’ products for treating cholesterol, it does have good results. The jury is out on this one, purely for the lack of intensified medical research – but it does seem to work. There are many versions in tablet form of varying strength, so this should be taken with caution.
All dosages by law have to be displayed on the bottles or containers. However, it is still advisable to consult medical advice before taking them in any quantity, particularly if you have other illnesses. Everyone is different as is your metabolism.
Taking herbal supplements is never going to be a quick fix. Quite frequently, a period of six or more weeks of daily intake is required to see any results.
It is probably unlikely that your medical practitioner will recommend treating your level of bad cholesterol with herbs and supplements, unless they have studied alternative medicine such as homeopathy or herbalism.
At the end of the day, it is your body and if you wish to try natural methods which many people have good success with, just advise your medical specialist before embarking on this journey.