High “Bad” Cholesterol and Lipids
Cholesterol and triglycerides (TGs) are essential to our body and are involved in the body's metabolic processes, helping to build cell membranes, producing bile salts that aid digestion, in addition to being important structural components of the nervous system and precursors to hormones, Vitamin D and more. However, if found at high concentrations in the blood stream, they may contribute to significant health problems.
One in four Israelis over the age of 40 (about 2.2 million people) suffers from high “bad” cholesterol (=LDL), and the numbers rise to 45% over the age of 55. The higher the concentration of LDL and TGs in the blood, the thicker, harder and narrower the arteries will become, resulting in restricted blood flow. Without treatment, atherosclerosis will develop, leading to stroke and heart attack. I invite you to a special comprehensive and personalized treatment program, which will help you “beat” the high cholesterol and TGs, reduce reliance on medication and allow you to live a better, more balanced life.
About “bad” cholesterol, ”good” cholesterol and Triglycerides
The blood and cells in our body contain lipoproteins, which are a combination of protein and fat. These are divided into 2 types:
• Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) – The "bad" cholesterol, carries cholesterol from the liver to body tissues, but excess of it builds up in the arteries clogging them up resulting in atherosclerosis
• High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) – The “good” cholesterol carries excess cholesterol from the body's cells to the liver to break it down and excrete it from the body. In a balanced state, HDL is about one-fifth of the level of cholesterol in the blood.
In addition, the blood contains additional fats called triglycerides (TG).
Two-thirds of the cholesterol is naturally produced by the liver and the rest comes from foods that are high in fat or sugar. TGs are formed mainly from excess carbohydrates and sugars that have not been utilized by the body, as well as from foods high in saturated fat (e.g., meat, snacks and more).
How do I know if I have high cholesterol?
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms that indicate an imbalance in the body’s lipid levels, and this is assessed only via a routine blood test. Symptoms that may indicate high levels of cholesterol and TGs are seen usually at more advanced stages and may include chest discomfort or leg pain. The current guidelines for “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood, classified according to the level of risk of developing heart disease, are:
• People without any risk factors / one risk factor (e.g., obesity) - below 130 mg/dL
• People with 2 risk factors (e.g., obesity and smoking) - below 100 mg/dL
• People with cardiovascular disease (including stroke), diabetes or kidney failure - below 70 mg/dL
“Good” cholesterol (HDL) level - over 40 mg/dL in men and over 50 mg/dL in women
TGs level in the blood - not more than 150 mg /dL.
Risk factors for the presence of high “bad” cholesterol levels
The main causes of high LDL cholesterol in the blood are a combination of genetics (“in the family”) and lifestyle. It is not uncommon to also find health issues such as obesity, high sugar levels or high blood pressure in people whose lipid metabolism is unbalanced.
Diets high in sugars and fats, poor eating habits, lack of exercise (especially aerobics), being overweight, diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, hypothyroidism, smoking, age, sex, hypertension and certain medications, all contribute to “bad” cholesterol levels.
How is high “bad” cholesterol being treated?
Treatment of high cholesterol and TGs in the blood is essential in order to reduce the formation of atherosclerotic plaque and the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, adopting a proper diet and exercise, and if necessary, medication.
At an early stage, lifestyle changes are recommended, including an appropriate diet that includes a reduced fat and low sugar intake, combined with regular aerobic exercise. If after a few months there is no improvement in in blood lipid levels, the doctor may consider prescribing medication. There are several groups of drugs that work by either inhibiting the production of cholesterol in the liver (statins such as Crestor, Lipitor), bile acid sequestrants (Colestipol, Colestyramine), TG inhibitors (fibrates, niacin), cholesterol absorption inhibitor (Ezetrol) and PCSK9 inhibitor (Praluent) which clears bad cholesterol from the blood.
Although these drugs have been shown to reduce mortality, they are not without side effects. Studies have shown that statins cause significant muscle pain over time and double the risk of developing or worsening diabetes (1).
How can Chinese medicine help in treating high cholesterol & TGs?
According to Chinese medicine, cholesterol may be described as accumulation of excess dampness that leads to stagnation that obstructs the free flow of Qi & blood. The source of this pathology involves weakness of the spleen, stomach, kidneys and liver imbalance. Chinese medicine treatment is comprehensive and includes acupuncture, herbs, personalized dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes.
Studies have shown that acupuncture combined with medication significantly lowers “bad” cholesterol, while herbs such as dandelion (Shan Zha, Crataegus pinnatifida) lower “bad” cholesterol and raise good cholesterol in a mechanism of action similar to that of statins (2-3).
Our program, "Beat high cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure in just 6 weeks" consists of 4 tailor-made steps accompanied by personal guidance that will ensure success for the long term:
● Personal diagnosis according to Chinese medicine, which complements the treatment the patient receives from their health insurance organization (Kupat Holim)
● Acupuncture treatments, herbal formula and tea infusions that have been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol and TG levels
● Personalized nutritional guidelines, according to the patient's lifestyle
● A gift starter infusion pack, a monthly group meeting, a recipe booklet and additional video clips, tips and research
Mansi et al. (2015) Gen Intern Med. 30(11):1599-610. doi: 10.1007/s11606-015-3335-1
Chen C et al. (2019) Complement Ther Clinical Practice 36: 100–112 doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.04.004
Dehghani S et al. (2019) Iran J Basic Med Sci 22:460-468. doi: 10.22038/IJBMS.2019.31964.7678