Your body requires cholesterol in the blood because it acts like steroid and protects cell membrane. But, excessive amount of cholesterol in the body can form plaque in the blood vessels, causing blockages in the arteries, which can affect the functioning of the heart and may even lead to life-threatening strokes.
Exercise and diet play a crucial role in maintaining cholesterol levels. There are also lots of herbs that have proven their natural ability to reduce bad cholesterol levels, but herbal remedies should not be used as a complete replacement for conventional medical treatment. Following are some of the best cholesterol-lowering herbs.
Herbs to Lower Cholesterol
Green tea contains high quantity of antioxidants that have been found to be very effective in fighting free radicals in the body. This particular activity further helps in removing cholesterol and plaque accumulation from arterial walls. Green tea also prevents blood vessel constriction, which further helps in lowering cholesterol level. It can be taken as a dry herb, as a herbal tea or in the form of supplements. The recommended dosage is around 600 mg daily, divided in small doses for 3-4 times.
Psyllium is not only a rich source for fiber but it also contains potent natural cleansing properties. Where the fiber content prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream, the cleaning properties of the herb help in removal of fat plaques from the arterial passages. The recommended dosage is 5-10 grams daily. It can be taken in seed husk form, in powdered form or as a supplement.
The power of garlic to eliminate cholesterol plaques from arterial walls lies in its strong anti-clotting and blood-thinning properties. Both these properties can be very beneficial in reducing both triglyceride levels as well as LDL (low density lipoprotein) levels. Moreover, since garlic also fights free radicals, it improves the functioning of the heart and helps in increasing the level of HDL (good cholesterol).
The general dosage recommendation varies from 600mg to 1200mg a day (divided in 3 equal doses). You can take it in supplement form or use powdered garlic to prepare a herbal tea. Alternatively, you can simply chew and eat 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic daily. Those who are taking anti-coagulant medications should avoid this herb.
Red Rice Yeast
Red rice yeast is a natural source for statins. Statins are the chemicals that are very commonly used in pharmaceutical medications for high cholesterol. Where chemically-produced statins can cause some side effects, the naturally-produced statins have been found to be significantly much safer and more effective in treating high cholesterol. Herbal remedies prepared using red rice yeast should not be used in combination with medications that contain chemically-produced statins, as it can also produce adverse effects. Considering all these facts, it is all the more important to use this herb only under the supervision of an experienced herbal practitioner.
The extracts obtained from the leaves of artichoke contain a natural substance called cynarian (phenolic acid), which helps in increased cholesterol excretion from the body by improving the flow of bile from gallbladder and by increasing the bile production in the liver. The best thing is that artichoke also provides your body with all those essential nutrients that high-fat foods provide, but minus any harmful cholesterol. The dosage varies, and so, you must take this herb as prescribed by your doctor. Those who are allergic to herbs belonging to daisy family and those who are suffering from gallbladder diseases should avoid this herb.
Medically termed as Withania somnifera, ashwgandha contains steroidal lactones, alkaloids, polyphenols and flavonoids. The red-orange berries, the white-yellow flowers and the roots of the ashgandha plants are used for medicinal purposes. The herb helps in the elimination of cholesterol plaque by increasing the production of bile acids in the body.
Ashwgandha roots in powdered form are considered to carry the most effective results. Pregnant women should avoid this herb. Others should consult their doctors for proper dosage, customized for their overall specific health condition.
Medically termed as cnidium monnieri, Monnier’s Snowparsley belongs to the parsley family. The seeds of this herb contain a coumarin substance called osthol, which carries vasorelaxant and antiplatelet properties. Due to all these properties, the herb has been found to be very effective in lowering triglycerides (the main component of LDL or bad cholesterol) level. There are no general dosage guidelines. So, follow the guidelines prescribed by your doctor.
The main active component in cayenne peppers is capsicum, which helps in removing the fatty deposits from the artery walls by dissolving them in the bloodstream. This activity eventually lowers bad cholesterol levels and reduces the levels of low-density lipoprotein. It can be taken in the form of supplements, but most doctors also advise high-cholesterol patients to use cayenne peppers liberally in their diet.
Medically termed as thymberia spicata, spiked thyme belongs to the mint family. Its leaves are used for medicinal purposes, which contain isoprenoids (mainly carvacrol and thymol), terpenoids and flavonoids. Due to these components, the herb carries strong hypocholesteremic, liver-protective, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The extracts from its leaves help in dissolving cholesterol plaques, which lead to reduced levels of triglycerides and LDL levels. At the same time, the flavonoids in spiked thyme also help in improving the HDL ratio. Nursing and pregnant women should avoid this herb. Also, it must be taken under the supervision of a doctor only.
Trikatu is actually a combination of three herbs – ginger, black pepper and long pepper. The power of trikatu to reduce bad cholesterol levels lies in the balancing effects of the three herbs on lipid metabolism, which lowers LDL and triglycerides levels without interfering with the good cholesterol level. Those who are suffering from acid reflux or heartburn should avoid this herb. The dosage varies from one patient to another.
The tiny yellow flowers, the needle-shaped leaves and the stems of the Rooibos plants are used for medicinal purposes. Active components include nothofagin, aspalalinin, quercetin, isoorientin and oreintin. The herb has antispasmodic, antimutagenic and antioxidant properties. It helps in lowering bad cholesterol level by stimulating the production of coenzyme Q10 (a natural antioxidant) in the body. Long-term use of this herb should be avoided. Consult your doctor for dosage advice.
Considering the fact that too much of cholesterol in the body can be life-threatening, you are advised not to experiment with cholesterol-lowering herbs on your own. To be on a safer side, you must always consult your doctor and follow the guidelines as prescribed by them.