High Cholesterol Treatment Options

High cholesterol is one of the most common ailments plaguing Western society today. Millions are spent every year on treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, there are quite a few different treatments you can choose from.
On a most basic level, treating cholesterol begins with your lifestyle. It involves reducing the fat in your diet, eating more fibers and exercising more. This will help eliminate the things that caused high cholesterol in the first place from your life; then start to reverse the process.
That said, treating high cholesterol also often involves using one or more supplements.  Supplements can speed up the way you lower cholesterol instead of relying on diet and lifestyle alone.  
Here are a few of the most common treatment options.

 Niacin

If for some reason you’re unable to get a prescription for other high blood pressure drugs, niacin is a popular alternative.
Niacin interacts directly with your liver, causing it to produce less cholesterol than it normally would.
The niacin in a pharmacy might also be labeled Vitamin B3. It may cause a temporary flushing which may be uncomfortable but it is harmless.  Taking niacin with food will reduce the chances of flushing.  It should be taken at a minimum dose of 1 g per day.  Niacin lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) by up to 30 percent, but unlike statin drugs, it also substantially boosts HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces triglycerides. 

Sterols

Sterols interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.  Two daily grams lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) by 9 to 20 percent.  There are supplements which vary in composition and dosage of sterols. The food and Drug Administration FDA allows food and supplement lables to clam they reduce the heart disease risks if they supply at least 400 mg of sterols per serving. 

Red Yeast Rice Extract

Used in Asia as a heart remedy, the extract is made by fermenting red yeast on rice.  Its main compound is monacolin K which lowers cholesterol production in the liver.  It is marketed in purified form as the drug lovastatin.  The effect of the supplement is unpredictable.  The amount of the compound can vary greatly.  Making sure you get a good brand would be very important in the effectiveness. If you take it have your blood tested regularly to make sure it is working and not having adverse effects.

Soluble Fiber Supplements

Guidelines recommend to eat grains rich in soluble fiber.  One is psyllium, sold as a laxative and fiber supplement, which can lower LDL cholesterol 5 to 15 percent and has other heart-healthy effects too.  The key is to have the fiber before each meal.  This will make the fiber bind to the cholesterol in your food and decrease the absorption.  This habit can also help to lower blood sugar levels through the same mechanisms.
Another beta glucan, in oats and barley, which lowers LDL cholesterol.  Fiber rich oat and barley products can bear a heart-health claim, but you need 3 to 6 daily grams for significant effect.  Many supplement provide beta glucan or other soluble fibers. 
Remember if you increase fiber you must increase water too.

Choosing Your Treatments

The first step to determining which treatment(s) you should use is to figure out what level of risk you’re considered. If you’re a Category I high risk case, you’ll need very different kinds of treatments than if you were Category IV, low risk.
Talk to your naturopathic doctor about your various treatment options. Research options recommended by your doctor and make an informed decision as to which treatments you ultimately want to use.
By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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