For some time now the role of non-pharmacologic management, alone or in combination with drug treatment, has been controversial. However, since the 1990s many medical conferences have been held (all over the world) and research has been done by experts from many disciplines within the health sciences resulting in a new respect and appreciation of these combined therapies. About 12% of U.S. adults have elevated cholesterol levels. Elevated cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease and strokes. Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S., and stroke is the number five cause of death [source: https://www.cdc.gov]. Treatment of cholesterol is an area in which wisely-chosen nutraceuticals and a healthy lifestyle can lead to significant reductions in harmful cholesterol levels and thereby reduce the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
In a lecture given by Mark Houston, MD, February 2016, from the Cardiovascular Summit in Miami, FL and recorded in the Audio-Digest® lecture series, the benefits of various non-pharmaceutical options for controlling high cholesterol were discussed. While these may not be enough in themselves, they may help to lessen dependence on anti-lipidemic pharmaceutical agents which often have undesirable side effects. Here’s the list of supplements that have been studies and shown to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels:
- Niacin—Talk with your doctor about whether this is a fit for you and to determine an appropriate dose for you.
- Red yeast rice: 600-2400 mg taken at night. Add Co-Q10 (100 mg twice daily), and vitamin E (400 IU daily).
- Plant sterols—Talk with your doctor about whether this is a fit for you and to determine an appropriate dose for you.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 1000-4500 mg daily. Talk with your doctor first before taking doses above 2000 mg daily. Your supplement should have a ratio of EPA to DHA of approximately 3 to 2, for example, 600 EPA / 400 DHA. If the label does not specify, choose another supplement.
- Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and nuts: 40-50 gm per day can lead to as much as a 30% relative risk in coronary heart disease and a 40% reduction in diabetes.
- Tocotrienols (form of vitamin E): 200-250 mg daily in the evening.
- Berberine: 500 mg one to two times daily.
- Citrus bergamot: doses vary, follow instructions on bottle or discuss with your doctor. With higher quality products, up to a 20% reduction in cholesterol can be achieved.
- Lycopene: 10-20 mg daily. Caution advised when taking other medications as it is found in grapefruit.
- Garlic: 300 mg 3 times daily, or as an alternative, can take 600 mg twice daily.
- Pantethine / pantothenic acid / pantethenate (B vitamin): 400 mg twice daily, but may take 6 months before benefits are seen.
- Probiotics, especially Lactobacillus reuteri: 100 mg/day. Dr. Kocourek’s preferred brands are Orenda Eaze, Orthobiotics, and Innate probiotics. For children: [please add the name of our jar of kids biotics]
- Sesame seed or oil: 40 gm daily
- Pomegranate seeds: 0.5 to 1 cup ground in blender added to smoothies
- Green tea: drink 60-100 oz/day, or take EGCG 500 mg twice daily.
AS ALWAYS, consult your physician before taking any new supplements and DO NOT stop your present cholesterol-lowering medications without the recommendation and agreement of your physician. There may be contraindications with certain supplements, depending upon your biology and/or other supplements and medications you are taking. It’s always important to have your doctor check. If you want to try a non-pharmaceutical approach and your doctor isn’t familiar with such options, find a doctor who is familiar, or who is willing educate her or himself to support you in improving your healthcare status.
© Trinity Integrative Family Medicine, Inc., glkocourek, Feb-2017, latest revision 09-May-2021