Everyone knows that high cholesterol increases risk of heart attack, stroke and other vascular problems. Upon discovery of high cholesterol medical doctors use diet and exercise modifications as the first line of therapy to lower cholesterol.
This approach is emphasized because all cholesterol-lowering drugs carry risk of significant side effects, including liver damage, kidney failure, muscle damage, muscle pain, gallbladder disease and other serious problems.
Thus most health practitioners agree that prescribing these drugs should be reserved for special cases. Yet, many medical doctors write prescriptions for a cholesterol-lowering drug before attempting to lower cholesterol through proven dietary practices.
In addition, medical schools do not train doctors on the use of effective natural medicines that can lower cholesterol.
This is unfortunate because there are two safe and natural ingredients that have been shown to be very effective in lowering cholesterol.
Two Natural Cholesterol-Lowering Agents: Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf Extract
Gum Guggul (or Gugulipid) is derived from the mukul myrrh tree, and contains guggulsterones - the active constituents that account for its cholesterol and triglyceride lowering effects.
Clinical trials have shown that Gum Guggul supplementation can lower cholesterol by 14-27% within a 12-week period, as it helps the liver remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. It also helps to lower triglycerides to a similar degree.
Artichoke Leaf Extract has also been shown to reduce high cholesterol by nearly 20%, primarily by flushing excess cholesterol out to the body through the intestines.
A patient of one of my colleagues, who was not using any cholesterol-lowering drugs, recently started on these two ingredients for a 5-week period and managed to lower their cholesterol by 20%.
The best news is that these two natural substances do not carry the same risk of serious side effects as do cholesterol-lowering drugs, and they have no known drug-nutrient interactions. This means that even if you are on other medications (including cholesterol-lowering drugs) you can still use a combination supplement containing Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf Extract.
The Effective Dosage
In order for Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf Extract to be effective each capsule should contain:
Gum Guggul (Gugulipid) – 500 mg (std to 2.5% guggulsterone content),
Artichoke Leaf Extract – 200 mg (std to 13-18% caffeoylquinic acids)
The effective dosage is two capsules, two or three times daily.
Heart attacks and related cardiovascular conditions are the leading cause of death in our society, and high cholesterol levels are a significant part of these problems simply because cholesterol clogs our arteries, eventually blocking blood flow to the heart muscle, part of the brain, or to other vital tissues.
To reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, most ideally you should strive to attain a fasting blood cholesterol level below 3.9 mmol/L (150 mg/dL) and a triglyceride level below 1.13 mmol/L (100 mg/dL). If that is not possible, then aim for a fasting cholesterol level of no higher than 4.68 mmol/L (180 mg/dL).
Lifestyle strategies to help lower cholesterol include eating less animal fat, staying lean, exercising aerobically, and consuming foods high in cholesterol-lowering fiber (beans, peas, oats, many fruits and vegetables, ground flaxseed, psyllium husk fiber and salba grain).
However 5-10% of the population has high cholesterol due to genetics, in which case the fasting cholesterol level is often found to be above 7.0 mmol/L (270 mg/dL). In these cases drug therapy is usually required to get cholesterol levels into a more desirable range.
The same is often true for individuals who have already sustained a heart attack or a previous cardiovascular incident. In these cases the target level of cholesterol required to prevent a recurrence of the problem may be at such a low level that medication, in addition to dietary practices and natural supplements, may be needed to achieve this preventive level.
In these more extreme cases, a supplement of Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf could be used in conjunction with cholesterol-lowering drugs. And, because there are no drug-nutrient interactions between these drugs and the natural therapies, they can be taken together.
For the rest of us, a daily supplement containing Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf Extract can help keep our cholesterol in a safe range and keep us from having to take cholesterol-lowering medications – a very desirable outcome in itself.
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