If you have been told you have “borderline high” cholesterol or if you simply cannot afford prescription medication, natural remedies for high cholesterol may be the way for you to go. Here are seven natural tools for cholesterol reduction with herbs and vitamins.
- Chinese red yeast rice produces the same chemical, lovastatin, that is used to make the statin drug Mevacor. In fact, red yeast rice lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol so effectively that the US Food and Drug Administration does not allow red yeast rice supplements to be standardized-becuase then they would be more effective than Mevacor, because they do not cause side effects.
- Stinging nettles, sometimes sold under their botanical name, Urtica dioica, have been shown to lower both total and LDL cholesterol in laboratory studies. They are also used to stimulate urination and to prevent (but not treat) kidney stones.
- The heart herb hawthorn has a small effect lowering total cholesterol and LDL, and raising HDL. More importantly, it lowers blood pressure and slows down the heartbeat while making the individual heartbeats stronger. One herb expert says, “Hawthorn is great for your heart. It just isn’t a wonder drug for your blood work.“
- Niacin is known to be effective against high cholesterol. You can read much more about niacin for cholesterol on this site.
- Psyllium, the main ingredient in remedies in constipation such as Metamucil, lowers cholesterol by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in food. The cholesterol digested in food gets locked in the fibers of psyllium and is expelled with the stool during bowel movement. If you are on a strict, low-cholesterol diet, pysllium is superfluous, but if you eat meat and eggs, taking psyllium may make a difference in your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol numbers.
- The Ayurvedic herb guggul helps lower cholesterol by blocking absorption of cholesterol digested from food, but in a different way. Guggul stimulates the liver to produce bile salts. These bile salts trap cholesterol. Some of the trapped cholesterol gets carried into the hepatic portal vein for entry into the bloodstream, but more of it gets mixed with the contents of the bowel and expelled.
- Policosanol, which is extracted from sugar cane, has been extensively studied in comparison to the prescription statin drug Zocor (simvastatin). Policosanol and Zocor were shown to be equally effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but policosanol, unlike Zocor, also raised HDL. In one six-month study involving the use of 10 mg of guggul every day, total cholesterol was lowered by 16%, LDL cholesterol was lowered by 19%, and HDL cholesterol was raised by 24%.
What about foods for lowering cholesterol. There is some benefit from oat bran, orange juice, fish oil, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and simply making sure you get 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Any food cure for high cholesterol, however, works best when your overall consumption of food is no greater than your daily calorie needs.