There are two types of Herbal Remedies available. One would be what we have come to call Western Herbs, the other would be Chinese Herbs. With Western Herbs, we generally understand the mechanism of action of the Herb. That is, we know what cellular function or metabolic process those Herbs effect, much like we understand the mechanism of action of prescription drugs. Unlike most prescription drugs, however, many Herbs effect cellular functions in more than one place or in more than one tissue, so they can be used for more than one symptom or condition. Chinese Herbs, on the other hand, are not directed at a particular cellular function or metabolic process. Rather, they are used in combinations, and are directed at symptoms or conditions that are felt to arise from an improper flow of energy, or Qi (pronounced chee), through the body.
If you decide to use Chinese Herbs, the combination of herbs given to you will be decided by our practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine based on her evaluation of you. If you decide to use Western Herbs, there are several herbal remedies that can be used in your case:
GARLIC (Allium sativum) AND ONION (Allium cepa bulbous)
Garlic is effective at lowering the risk of atherosclerosis by lowering total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, and by elevating HDL. The component of garlic responsible for the cholesterol-lowering properties is allicin, which is also responsible for the odor. An oderless form of garlic is available that contains allin, which is converted to allicin in the GI tract. It is available as a time-release preparation, and a dose of 10 mg of allin allows for the cholesterol-lowering effect to occur without the odor. The German Commission E, the world’s authority on herbal medicines, has approved Garlic for use in lowering cholesterol, and recommends a dose of 4000 mg per day of fresh garlic, equivalent to about one clove.
Patients taken anticoagulants, such as coumadin or warfarin, should be aware that garlic can add to the anticoagulant effect of these drugs. As well, patients taking aspirin as secondary prevention may also experience a prolongation of the bloods’ ability to clot.
Onion is also effective at lowering blood lipids and prevents plaque formation by inhibiting platelet aggregation. The dose of onion to achieve these therapeutic benefits is 50 GM per day of fresh, cut onion or 20 GM per day of the dried preparation.
SOY LECITHIN AND SOY PHOSPHOLIPID:
These soy preparations have been shown to be effective in lowering blood lipids. The German Commission E indicates their use to be primarily in patients with mild elevations of lipids who have not responded to dietary interventions or other non-medical strategies such as exercise and weight loss. The dosage is guided by the phospholipid content. For soy lecithin, the dose corresponds to 3.5 GM per day of 3-sn-phosphtidylcholine, as a preparation made from soybeans for natural intake. For soy phospholipid, the dose is 1.5-2.7 GM of phospholipids from soybeans with 73-79 percent 3-sn-phosphatidylcholine in a single dose. There are no side effects or drug interactions.
Gugulipid is the standardized extract of the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul). It has been shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride, and to raise HDL. It works by delivering more cholesterol to the liver and then facilitating its metabolic breakdown. It also inhibits platelet aggregation. The dosing is based on the content of what is called guggulosterone content. The dose is a standardized extract containing 25 mg of guggulosterone per 500 mg tablet, given tree times a day. Gugulipid is without side-effects.
THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION
There is a growing body of evidence connecting emotions and behavior with cardiovascular risk. There is now an accepted link between such things as depression and anger with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Pioneering research done in the 60’s by Dr. Meyer Friedman showed an increased risk of heart disease in men with the so-called Type A Personality. More importantly, he showed that patients with a Type A Personality who have experienced a heart attack can reduce their risk of a subsequent heart attack by psychotherapeutic interventions that address the Type A behavior. If you believe that you have a Type A Personality, or if the way you express anger is a worrisome to you, you should consider psychotherapy in a group or individual setting. At Nature’s Healthcare, we have a network of behavioral therapists to whom we could refer you for such treatment. If you believe you experience episodes of depression, that can be addressed in a number of ways, including psychotherapy and medication, or through the use of a variety of herbal remedies.
Stress is also being looked at as a risk factor for heart disease. We know it plays a part, but we are still trying to determine if it is an independent risk factor, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. It is well accepted that patients experiencing stress can lower their risk of heart disease by adopting certain stress management techniques. Stress management can be facilitated through consultation with a behavioral therapist. There are also a number of stress management strategies which can be self-taught and implemented. We will touch on some of these techniques below.