Evidenced-based natural remedies that reduce blood lipid levels

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Agents that reduce the concentration of lipids in the blood are called hypolipidaemic. The term “hypolipidaemic” is derived from the Greek hypo (υπό) meaning under, lipos (λίπος) meaning fat and haima (αίμα) meaning blood. They have an effect on phospholipids including very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs), intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDLs), low density lipoproteins (LDLs) and high density lipoproteins (HDLs), chylomicrons and cholesterol esters.
Healthy Heart

Hypolipidaemics have a broader scope and clinical application than hypocholesterolaemics (agents that decrease blood cholesterol levels). They are best taken with meals and long term application is advisable. They are indicated in patients with elevated triglyceride levels, LDL/HDL ratio, cholesterol and high atheromatic factor.

Also, people with familial history of hyperlipidaemia and hypercholesterolaemia can be greatly benefited. People with high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases. (1)Herbal medicines that have a hypolipidaemic action include Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre), Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus), Garlic (Allium sativum) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa). Lipid-lowering supplements include vitamin B3 and chromium. Oats (Avena sativa) based foods e.g. porridge also reduce lipids from the blood. (1), (2)

Gymnema

Gymnema leaves have been used in India for more than 2,000 years to treat madhu meha, or “honey urine”, i.e. Diabetes mellitus. Gymnema appears to lower serum glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels following chronic use. There is also early evidence suggesting possible efficacy of gymnema as a lipid-lowering agent. It reduces fat digestibility and increases feacal excretion of cholesterol as well as reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Oral administration of Gymnema extract is found to decrease body weight and food intake probably because it suppresses the sweet taste by 50% thus reducing caloric intake. (2)

Garlic

Several clinical trials have concluded that garlic supplementation reduces total cholesterol levels significantly more than placebo. A comparative study showed that garlic produced similar lipid-lowering effects when taken as 300mg three times daily (Kwai) to bezafibrate (pharmaceutical lipid-lowering drug) taken 200mg three times daily in subjects with primary hyperlipidaemia. (2)

Turmeric

Turmeric rhizome contains curcumin, a phenolic curcuminoid, which gives turmeric the yellow colour. An in vivo study showed that curcumin may stimulate the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids, thus increase the excretion of cholesterol via the faeces. Another study suggests that supplementation with turmeric decreases fatty streak development and oxidative stress. (2)

Globe Artichoke

A dose of 1800mg artichoke leaf extract was administered daily for 6 weeks in 143 subjects in a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. The result was statistically significant with 18.5% decrease in serum cholesterol compared with 8.6% for placebo. (2)

Chromium

Chromium is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity by aiding the transport of glucose into the cell. However, studies show that chromium supplementation may decrease triglyceride levels, total and LDL-cholesterol and increase HDL-cholesterol. (2) Due to its therapeutic activity, chromium is essential for those suffering with metabolic Syndrome X.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is used to reduce overall risk of cardiovascular disease. It has been used for the treatment of high cholesterol and triglyceride levels since the 1950s. Niacin is the ‘only agent currently available that favourably affects all components of the lipid profile to a significant degree’ and has the greatest effect on HDL levels a 2002 review suggests. Niacin has a synergistic effect when taken with chromium. (2)

It goes without saying that a healthy balanced naturopathic diet is of utmost importance in the management of hyperlipidaemia. Diet low in processed foods, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats is essential. Specific diets such as the Zone Diet, DASH diet, vegetarian diet and Mediterranean diet have shown beneficial results. Equally important is exercise at least 30 minutes four times a week preferably in the morning.

An interactive infographic about the ill-effects of high or bad cholesterol in the body:

http://www.healthline.com/health/cholesterol/effects-on-body

Bibliography:

1. Hechtman, Leah. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Sydney : Elsevier, 2011.

2. Braun, Lesley and Cohen, Marc. Herbs And Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. Second. Sydney : Elsevier, 2007.

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About Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides
Savvas Ioannides is a Naturopathic, Herbal and GAPS Diet practitioner who studied at Nature Care College in Sydney. Savvas uses holistic and natural therapies including Herbal remedies and Nutrition to boost your vitality and help you achieve optimum levels of health.

One Response to Evidenced-based natural remedies that reduce blood lipid levels

  1. Pingback: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Herbal Treatment | Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

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