Ayurvedic treatment for High Cholesterol

High Cholesterol

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  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

High Cholesterol Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

Cholesterol, a fatty substance, is vital for normal functioning of the body. It is produced in the liver as well as found in some food items. The risk of heart disease increases with high cholesterol levels in the blood.1 Excess deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels, make it difficult for the blood to flow through the arteries. As a result, heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke.2

According to Ayurvedic texts, balancing MedaDhatu (lipid tissue) subsequently helps to maintain balanced cholesterol level. Agni (digestive fire) is the principle factor behind the balance in the body. A strong Agni is equally important in maintaining balance in the Doshas and Malas. Therefore, balancing digestion, assimilation and elimination in turn balances, fat tissue and cholesterol. When MedaDhatu mixes with Ama (sticky, foul-smelling waste product of improper digestion), it changes the quality of fat tissue and the quality of cholesterol, making it unhealthy. This mixing of Ama with fat tissue is the main cause of imbalanced cholesterol.3

Causes

High Cholesterol

HIGH CHOLESTEROL CAUSES

Many different factors can contribute to high blood cholesterol. They include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive use of alcohol and smoking
  • Obesity
  • Medical conditions such as kidney disease, hypothyroidism, liver disease
  • Family history

Symptoms

High Cholesterol

HIGH CHOLESTEROL SYMPTOMS

High cholesterol has no symptoms 

Diagnosis

High Cholesterol

HIGH CHOLESTEROL DIAGNOSIS

Cholesterol levels are detected with a blood test called lipid panel or lipid profile which tests for the level of following lipids:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL cholesterol
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Triglycerides — a type of fat in the blood

Management

High Cholesterol

HIGH CHOLESTEROL AYURVEDIC TREATMENT

Ayurvedic approach to manage high cholesterol levels includes methods to increase the power of digestive fire (agni) which will help properly digest the aama, and help in controlling the causative factors.7

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • A Kapha-pacifying diet helps increase fat metabolism and included foods such as bitter, astringent and pungent in nature.
  • Diet should include most pulses or dried beans, such as lentils and split mung dal.
  • Avoid larger beans.
  • Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower and fruits such as apples and pears should be consumed
  • Breakfast of cooked apple with cooked prunes and figs will help cleanse the bowel and lower cholesterol levels.
  • Bitter foods like spinach and mustard greens when cooked and seasoned with spices, help cleanse the bowel and thus preventing the bad type of cholesterol from accumulating.
  • Avoid sweet, salty and sour foods.
  • Always cook food and eat it warm, to counteract the cool, earthy Kapha Dosha.
  • Cook with small amounts of ghee or olive oil

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Perform Yoga asanas and suryanamaskara twice daily for 10-20 minutes each.
  • Do pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises as helps digestion and cleans the srotas, or channels
  • Avoid sleeping during the day. This causes the metabolism to slow and the srotasor channels to fill with Ama
  • Wake up before six o'clock, and avoid daytime naps

FAQS

High Cholesterol
  1. What is angina?

Angina is a chest pain that occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscles is restricted. It happens when the arteries supplying the heart become hardened and narrowed due to build-up of fatty substances known as plaques. This restricts the blood supply to the heart and triggers the symptoms of angina. Angina attack is the pain mostly triggered by physical activity or stress and typically only lasts for a few minutes. There are two main types of angina. During stable angina, the attacks occur due to obvious trigger (such as exercise) and improve with medication and rest, while in unstable angina, the attacks are unpredictable, occurring with no obvious trigger and continuing despite resting. Angina is more common in older adults, affecting men more than women.

In Sanskrit, angina is derived from two words – hriday meaning ‘heart’ and shool meaning ‘thorn’. So hritshoolameans ‘a thorn in the heart’. In angina, Ama accumulates in Hirdayvahi channels and cause blockage. Due to the blockage of heart channels Vata dosha is aggravated. Vata symbolizes air or wind. It is dry, mobile, and cool in nature and it causes pain in heart.

  1. What can I do to prevent/manage angina?

Ayurveda gives following tips to prevent/manage angina:

  • Avoid fatty foods like fried food, milk products such as butter and cheese, full cream milk, oils, etc.
  • Include fermented milk products like curds in diet
  • Use only vegetable oils for cooking like sunflower, olive, groundnut and rapeseed oils.
  • Avoid red meats such as mutton, beef and pork.
  • Poultry and fish are beneficial. Fishes with high body oil content must be preferred. Avoid canned fish.
  • Mild exercise such as walking, is recommended in patients which good exertion tolerance and stable angina.
  • Avoid competitive exercising.
  • Meditation and shavasana help restore the tranquility, peace and manage stress
  • Pranayam (breathing exercise) should be practiced.
  1. What are the causes of high cholesterol?

Many different factors can contribute to high blood cholesterol. They include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking
  • Underlying conditions like kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism
  • Family history of early coronary heart disease, stroke or cholesterol-related condition
  1. What physical activities can help better my cholesterol?

Ayurveda recommends following activities to keep your cholesterol in check:

  • Yoga asanas and surya namaskara should be performed twice daily for ten minutes each.
  • Pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises, helps digestion and cleans the srotas, or channels.
  • Sleeping during the day, causes the metabolism to slow and the srotas or channels to fill with Ama. Wake up before six o'clock, and avoid daytime naps.
  • Eat meals at the same time every day, and plan to eat the largest meal at lunchtime, when digestion is strong.
  • Eat light to avoid indigestion at night
  • Transcendental Meditation technique reduces stress and improves mental clarity, making it easier to follow a healthy diet and make healthy lifestyle.
  1. What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a serious condition wherein arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, or atheroma. It causes the arteries to harden and narrow, restricting the blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs, and increasing the risk of blood clots that could potentially block the flow of blood to the heart or brain. Atherosclerosis may lead to life-threatening problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

According to Ayurveda, in atherosclerosis there is an increased Vata in blood vessels causing its degeneration thus making it hard, thin, and rough. Deposits of lipids and calcium represent increase in Kapha (water & earth element) in the degenerated vessels resulting in irregular thickening of blood vessels.

  1. What are the causes of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease. The exact cause is unknown but the damage may be caused by:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood
  • Smoking and other sources of tobacco
  • Insulin resistance, obesity or diabetes
  • Inflammation from diseases, such as arthritis, lupus or infections, or inflammation of unknown cause
  1. What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. In India, over one fifth deaths occur due to CAD. There are an estimated 45 million CAD patients in India. An increasing number of young Indians are falling prey to it.

CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to buildup of cholesterol and other material, on their inner walls. As these deposits continue to grow, less blood can flow through the arteries causing less blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscles. This can lead to chest pain or heart attack. Over a period of time, CAD weaken heart muscles and contribute to heart failure or arrhythmias (abnormal beating of heart).

Ayurved scholars have mentioned that diet, anger and emotion are causative agents of CAD and patients who are diagnosed or wants to prevent coronary artery disease should keep a check on all these factors.

  1. What puts me at risk of coronary artery disease?

CAD begins with injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, which may occur sometimes as early as childhood. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  1. What kind of exercises I can do to reduce blood pressure?

Ayurveda recommends the following exercises to manage and help reduce blood pressure:

  • Weight reduction and regular aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging running etc.
  • Sarvanga Abhangya (Massage) with specially formulated oils helps to increase elasticity and flexibility. It correct and enhance the blood flow in healthy manners
  • Upvasa (fasting), Yoga, Meditation and Gayatri or Omkara uchhara have significant role in management of hypertension
  1. How can one identify if one has stroke/brain attack?

The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person. Main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side; the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or the person may not be able to talk at all.
  • Time – dial the hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms

References

High Cholesterol
  1. High cholesterol. NHS 2015. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cholesterol/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. High cholesterol. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/home/ovc-20181871
  3. Gupta N and Tiwari R. AN AYURVEDIC APPROACH TO HYPERCHOLESTEROLEMIA. International Ayurvedic Medical Journal 2015; 3:7 (2104 – 2109)
  4. High cholesterol – Causes. NHS 2015. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cholesterol/Pages/Causes.aspx
  5. High cholesterol. Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/dxc-20181874
  6. High cholesterol. Diagnosis. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/dxc-20181913
  7. Bansi K and Sagar SS. DYSLIPIDEMIA: AN AYURVEDIC APPROACH. International Journal of Applied Ayurved Research 2016; 2:7 (868 – 874)

Keywords: High cholesterol, Dyslipidemia, Hypercholesterolemia, Meda Dhatu

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