Safe and Natural Cholesterol Lowering Agents That Won’t Damage Your Health
High cholesterol is a very common problem in the modern world, probably due to our often poor dietary and lifestyle choices. As a result, a high percentage of people in the world are on medication to lower their cholesterol. However, this type of medication can have some serious consequences, which is why natural cholesterol lowering agents are so important. They can lower your cholesterol levels but usually don’t have the same side effects as harsher medications. If you suffer from high cholesterol, this is definitely an option that you need to consider. This is especially important if you have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and need to be careful about what you put in your body.
The Cholesterol Problem
High cholesterol is a growing problem in the modern world. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), around 95 million adults in the US have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dl, and 29 million have levels over 240 mg/dl. These are both over the recommended safe total cholesterol levels. Even more worryingly, over 7 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have high total cholesterol levels. This is potentially very dangerous.
There are multiple different types of cholesterol that have been identified, but we will focus on two of them The first is known as HDL. This type of cholesterol is very beneficial, and studies have shown it to be affected by exercise and eating good fats. The other type of cholesterol is LDL, which collects on the walls of your arteries and can cause a number of health problems.
One of the biggest problems with high cholesterol is the fact that it’s typically symptomless. As a result, you can have high cholesterol levels for a long time before the problem is identified. This means that by the time the problem is found, you may already be at risk of the associated health problems. The only way to avoid this situation is to make sure you get your overall health evaluated on a regular basis and address any issues as soon as they arise.
Until fairly recently, most medical professionals believed that both types of cholesterol had to be low for better health. However, recent research has suggested that the relationship between both types of cholesterol and good health is far more complex than previously thought. This has resulted in a lot of controversy about medications that lower cholesterol levels and a surge in the popularity of natural cholesterol lowering agents.
The Problem with Cholesterol Medication
The most common type of medication given to people with high cholesterol is statins. These can be very effective, but they can also have a number of troubling side effects. Some of the most common include the following:
- Digestive problems
- Muscle pain and damage
- Mental fuzziness
- Liver damage
If you’re on statins and you experience any of these symptoms, don’t stop taking the medication. This could result in unexpected and even dangerous side effects. Instead, talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask them about natural cholesterol lowering agents. This will give you the best chance of controlling your cholesterol levels while you preserve your overall health at the same time.
What is Policosanol?
Policosanol is one of the most effective natural cholesterol lowering agents you can find. It can be extracted from either sugar cane, beeswax, or other plants but there are some differences between the resulting extract. The active ingredient in policosanol is called octacosanol, and it is more abundant in the sugar cane extract.
Policosanol, similar in action to how statins work, inhibits the function of an enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme is necessary for the body’s production of cholesterol. About 15 percent of the body’s cholesterol comes from diet. The other 85 percent is made in the liver in response to the body’s demands. Because of this, medications that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase can be effective at lowering cholesterol levels when dietary approaches fail.
Researchers have been testing the efficacy of policosanol since 1993. In one of the earlier trials, 10 mg of policosanol was administered once a day for 24 weeks and caused total cholesterol levels to decrease by 22.1%. Interestingly, even a 1 mg dose resulted in a 16% reduction in cholesterol levels. By comparison, the total blood cholesterol in the control group increased by 5%.
Policosanol also inhibits lipid oxidation, which is a common precursor to strokes and atherosclerotic heart disease. This is an additional benefit of the extract that works alongside its ability to inhibit cholesterol production. In a study involving 48 patients with an average age of 67, it was shown that 50 mg of octacosanol derived from beeswax reduced the lipid oxidation level by a modest but significant 6.7%. In addition, the antioxidant capacity of the blood increased by 20.3% compared to the untreated group. Even more impressive and vital for natural cholesterol lowering agents, the extract didn’t cause any negative reactions in patients who were taking other medications at the time of the study.
Is Policosanol Safe?
Policosanol is also one of the safest natural cholesterol lowering agents. In laboratory settings, extremely high doses of this extract were given to participants. At a huge dose of 50 mg per kg of body weight, which is 1700 times the suggested level, the participants experienced no change in organ pathology when examined under the microscope after six months of taking this dose. This is an important finding because one of the most troubling toxic effects of cholesterol lowering drugs is the fact that they can cause liver toxicity in laboratory rats given a dose level of 50 mg/kg. The liver is the detoxification center of the body, which is why it is the first to become damaged by toxins. The fact that policosanol doesn’t seem to be connected to liver damage is, therefore, an important feature of this cholesterol solution
The effectiveness of policosanol on a cellular and molecular level is equally impressive. In further studies, there was no evidence of policosanol-induced damage to DNA when rats were given doses of 5-500 mg/kg body weight for 90 days. This is a massive dose, and the fact that it didn’t cause any damage is extremely encouraging.
Other Natural Cholesterol Lowering Agents
There are several additional natural cholesterol lowering agents that you can try if your cholesterol is high and you’re concerned about side effects from common medications. Some of the most effective include:
- Soluble fiber
- Vitamin C
These natural cholesterol lowering agents can be used separately or in conjunction with each other to lower your bad cholesterol levels and improve your overall health. Both of these benefits are important for general health, but they’re even more vital if you have AFS.
How Is AFS Linked to Cholesterol Levels?
When you have high cholesterol levels, it can cause a lot of stress for your body. High cholesterol has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart disease, which means that it causes damage even before the dangerous result appears. LDLs can also build up on the walls of the arteries, making it more difficult to pump blood around the body and causing additional strain. Both of these consequences of high cholesterol make it more difficult for the body to function correctly, resulting in poor health and additional stress.
Stress is also dangerous in itself. Prolonged or severe stress has been linked with heart disease, certain types of cancer and other health disorders. That’s why the body has a system to help it cope with stress. This is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, and it activates changes in the body during times of stress. The NEM stress response utilizes the adrenal glands, along with six circuits of organs and systems, to make important changes in the body that perform essential functions during times of stress. As a result, when you’re stressed over a prolonged period of time, the adrenals are usually the first to become overworked and begin to break down, resulting in AFS.
When the adrenals become fatigued, they start to struggle to perform their normal functions. The adrenals are responsible for the excretion of over 50 vital hormones including cortisol, and when they start to strain to fulfill these duties, it causes widespread problems and symptoms. This is primarily linked to the hormone cortisol, which is essential during times of stress. When you’re stressed, your body demands more cortisol from the adrenals, which struggle to keep up with the demand. The resulting imbalances can affect every circuit in the body and even lead to a complete system shut down if it isn’t addressed correctly.
AFS and the Cardionomic Circuit
The cardionomic circuit consists of the adrenal glands, the cardiovascular system, and the autonomic nervous system. As a result, it’s one of the first circuits to be affected during times of prolonged stress and AFS.
When you develop AFS as a result of prolonged physical, mental or emotional stress, the hormonal axis starts to malfunction first as a result of the increasing demand for cortisol. This causes widespread hormonal imbalances as well as symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, weight gain, and digestive problems. The autonomic nervous system then becomes involved, which affects adrenaline and causes further system imbalances.
If the situation isn’t corrected then the cardiovascular system becomes imbalanced and cardiac symptoms start to appear such as palpitations, high blood pressure, increased pulse rate, and high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). If you reach this stage of AFS, it’s important that you look into safe ways to address your cardiac symptoms such as natural cholesterol lowering agents.
Before you make any changes to your routine, it’s safest to consult with your doctor first. This includes adding natural supplements as much as it includes prescription medications. This will help protect you from adverse reactions to supplements and from the possibility that they will interact badly with your regular medications. This is even more important if you have AFS, which often causes paradoxical reactions to medications and other chemicals that are introduced into your daily regimen. For this reason, it’s important that you’re careful when you introduce new elements into your system when you have AFS.
However, it’s equally important that you don’t just ignore the situation if you have high cholesterol. Because of the health risks that can result from this problem, you need to take steps to address it as soon the problem is identified.
How Cardionomic Circuit Imbalances Affect Cholesterol Levels
When the cardionomic circuit becomes unbalanced, it can cause a variety of cardiac symptoms including high cholesterol levels. When you’re stressed, the NEM stress response causes the adrenals to excrete more cortisol. This helps your body cope better with the stress, but it can also raise the amount of LDLs in your system. Studies have shown that stress actually increases LDL (the bad cholesterol). As a result, many people with AFS also have high cholesterol, which usually leads to them visiting their doctor to find a solution. However, the negative effects of cholesterol medications can also cause more stress for the body and worsen the situation. As a result, many AFS sufferers turn to natural cholesterol lowering agents. This allows them to address the troubling symptom without causing more damage or stress to their body.
Choosing natural cholesterol lowering agents will help you avoid potentially dangerous side effects from harsher medications and improve the health of your body overall, which will support your AFS recovery.
If you have high cholesterol, then you need to take steps to correct it. This is a serious problem and one that can lead to long-term health consequences, as well as a higher risk of mortality. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to take harsh and potentially dangerous cholesterol medications. There are a number of natural cholesterol lowering agents that you should consider with the help and advice from a trusted medical professional. These substances will help you control your cholesterol levels while still safeguarding your overall health and wellbeing. And if you have AFS, they decrease your stress levels and support the recovery process.
© Copyright 2012 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
Do natural cholesterol lowering agents work?
There’s a lot of controversy about natural remedies for health problems which makes people question the value of natural cholesterol lowering agents. But research indicates that policosanol, in particular, may be a safer way to lower your cholesterol without damaging your overall health.
Hi Dr Lam,
Your information is very educational and knowledgeable. Thank you very much.