Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that is naturally found in the human body. It is essential for certain bodily functions such as the production of Vitamin D, hormones and bile. The human body is capable of making enough cholesterol for these functions. Cholesterol is also present in certain foods. While cholesterol is essential to the normal functioning of the body, an excessive amount of cholesterol can harm the body.
There are three different types of cholesterol, namely; HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein). HDL is the form of cholesterol that helps remove bad cholesterol from the blood. It is normally referred to as good cholesterol as it is beneficial to the body. LDL is usually referred to as bad cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol levels lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. VLDL primarily refers to triglycerides and is also not considered to be good cholesterol.
Western Medicine - The Link Between Cardiovascular Diseases and High Cholesterol Levels
It has been found that the leading cause of unhealthy cholesterol levels is unhealthy lifestyle choices, excessive intake of saturated and trans fats and a sedentary lifestyle with little or insufficient physical activity. Unhealthy high cholesterol levels are also found to be hereditary as in the case of Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). Some medical problems such as hypothyroidism, liver disease and kidney disease also cause high cholesterol levels. Certain medication like progestins and steroids can also have the side effect of causing high cholesterol levels. There are usually no particular visible symptoms of high cholesterol levels.
The factors that raise the possibility of one having unhealthy cholesterol levels are:
Age: Cholesterol levels tend to increase with advancing age.
Genetics: Genetics play a large role in the predisposition of a person to have high cholesterol levels.
Being Overweight: Obesity and being overweight increases, the chance of a person suffering from high cholesterol.
Race: Certain races have a greater risk of having higher cholesterol levels.
Extra cholesterol can create plaque that starts sticking to the arterial walls. Over time this builds up and creates a condition called atherosclerosis which then leads to coronary heart disease. If this happens in the coronary artery that supplies blood to the heart muscle, it can cause a heart attack or chest pain (angina). The same situation in an artery that supplies oxygen to the brain leads to a stroke. In the limbs, it causes peripheral arterial disease.
Modern western medicine treats high cholesterol levels with the prescription of cholesterol-lowering drugs as well as diet and lifestyle changes. Some of the drugs used are Statins, Niacin, Bile Acid Sequestrants, Fibrates and Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitors. The Statins work to lower blood cholesterol levels by blocking the liver from producing cholesterol. They have side effects that include diabetes, liver problems to muscle aches to name a few. Niacin is a type of Vitamin B complex and is found to lower high cholesterol levels when taken in larger doses. It is also available in combination pills with statins. Bile Acid Sequestrants work by preventing the bile that is in the digestive tract from being reabsorbed by the body. Since bile is largely fatty this has the effect of reducing cholesterol levels in the person.
Fibrates have the effect of enhancing the breakdown of triglycerides, increasing the levels of HDL or good cholesterol and lowering the level of bad cholesterol or LDL. The inhibitors of cholesterol absorption help to inhibit the intestine’s ability to absorb cholesterol thereby reducing cholesterol levels in the body.
It has been found that these medications work better when combined with dietary and lifestyle changes. They are also found to work better when taken as a combination pill.
Ayurvedic Medicine - Cardiovascular Disease and Cholesterol
Ama And Amavisha
Ayurveda calls the metabolic leftovers in the body Ama. It states that when there is Ama that has not been cleansed from the body, it accumulates and starts to spread thereby mixing with the Dhatus or the seven body tissues and Malas (metabolic waste) becoming Amavisha. The mixing of the Amavisha with fat causes the Shrotas to be damaged. This is the cause for heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and strokes.
Agni And Dhatus
In Ayurveda, the digestive process is given prime importance for maintaining good health in a person. Digestion is linked with Agni or the digestive fire of which there are 13 types that work together for digestion. They work sequentially with the principal digestive fire in the stomach and duodenum called the Jathar Agni. The metabolization of the food is then performed by the Bhut Agnis that are located in the liver. The food is transformed into Rasa or nutritive fluid. This then goes to the Dhatu Agnis that are in the seven tissues of the body of which the lipids in the body are called Meda Dhatu. As per Ayurveda, the Dhatus get metabolically transformed in the sequence of Rakta (blood plasma), Mamsa (muscle), Meda (fat), Asthi (bone), Majja (bone marrow), and Shukra (reproductive fluid). So, if Ama is present in the Rasa it gets sequentially added to the Dhatus which is what causes the Ama in fat tissue to be accumulated in both the Rakta and Mamsa Dhatus.
When the Meda Dhatu is imbalanced it causes the stiffness, clogging and distortion of the Rakhtavati Shrotas or blood vessels. This causes high blood pressure. As per Ayurveda, when Meda Dhatu is disturbed it causes high cholesterol. So, we can see that as per the principles of Ayurveda it is not the cholesterol itself that causes the problem but the Amavisha that is at the root of the problem.
Since the liver is the organ that removes toxins before they enter the bloodstream, excessive toxin buildup can cause it to be overloaded and impaired thus disturbing the 13 Dhatu Agnis. The other factors that can unbalance or disturb the digestive process are mental, physical and environmental. The mental triggers are stress, overthinking and negative emotions. The physical causes are overeating, bad diet choices, improper eating schedule, eating despite having indigestion, ignoring natural urges and constipation. The environmental factors could be the consumption of food in the wrong season as well as eating impure food that has toxins such as additives, preservatives, chemicals and traces of fertilizer and pesticide. Environmental toxins are called Garvisha.
There are two sub doshas of Pitta, Pachaka Pitta and Ranjaka Pitta, that govern the digestion. Pachaka Pitta governs the breakdown of the food in the stomach and small intestine. Ranjaka Pitta governs the five Bhut Agnis, and also bile production, which is important in the digestion of fat. The Bhut Agnis scan and identify the different types of toxins. When the liver is healthy the Bhut Agnis successfully identify and eliminate these toxins and they do not pass into the Rasa and thereby into the body. But when the liver has to process excessive toxins it gets overloaded and overtime loses its ability to scan and eliminate them. There are Ayurvedic herbs that have the effect of increasing the production of bile. But a simple increase in bile production (which is also a mode of treatment for cholesterol in western medicine) is too simplistic a solution to a high cholesterol problem.
Ayurvedic medicine for Cholesterol
gives importance to increasing the ability of the liver to scan and eliminate toxins and thereby helps regulate cholesterol levels. Also, when the progressive metabolism of tissue from Rasa is out of balance it causes a problem. An imbalanced Dhatu Agni can create too much or too little fat. This is why in addition to reducing the intake of harmful fats and to maintain intake of good fats in reasonable quantities is important to avoid overloading the Meda Agni and the Bhut Agnis. Thus, we see that the principles of how to reduce triglycerides in Ayurveda is quite different from that of western medicine.
Ayurveda looks at the production of too much cholesterol as the imbalance of the Kapha Dosha. Ayurvedic treatment for high cholesterol and triglycerides suggests an Ayurvedic diet that balances the Kapha dosha. This has the effect of balancing the fat metabolism of the entire body. The diet that is prescribed to balance the Kapha dosha has food that has astringent, bitter or pungent tastes. Ayurveda also recommends avoiding sour, sweet and salty foods to balance Kapha dosha.
Kapha Pacifying Foods:
Lentils, smaller split beans, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) and fruits such as pears and apples are astringent foods.
Leafy green vegetables help cleanse the bowels and prevent the accumulation of fats in the body.
Grains are recommended by Ayurveda to enhance the metabolism of fats. These include unprocessed whole oats, quinoa and amaranth.
Since the Kapha dosha is cool and earthy, it is recommended to eat warm food and avoid cold food and liquids. Also, replacing cooking oil with small amounts of healthy fats such as olive oil and ghee is recommended.
How to Reduce LDL Cholesterol Naturally, India - Liposem Tablet
Liposem is an ayurvedic medicine for cholesterol composed of 17 active herbal ingredients that is available in the form of tablets for cholesterol. Its composition has antioxidant and hypolipidaemic properties. Liposem tablet helps decrease the levels of triglycerides and LDL thereby aiding the regulation high cholesterol or Hyperlipidaemia. This Ayurvedic tablet also helps minimise the damage caused to the blood vessels (Vascular damage) by the high cholesterol levels thereby offering protection from cardiac ailments.