Northwest Center for Optimal Health: Natural Medicine Specialists





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Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist

Greetings Journal Reader! I hope you enjoyed the information provided in my past few articles on how dietary changes and nutrition can make a difference in your heart health.

In correction to last month’s column, the study published in American Journal of Cardiology showed participants who had vitamin C after angioplasty (repair of a artery narrowing) were half as likely to have narrowings recur than participants who didn’t.

In continuation my heart health series, this month’s column addresses use of plant (herbal) medicines for preventing, treating, and reversing heart disease. Yes, with an individualized plan, natural medicine really can work. Always talk to your natural medicine specialist before using natural medicine or nutrition to treat any health condition. Enjoy!

Dr. P, I’ve had a heart attack and have high cholesterol, and am willing to use herbs, but only if they can really help. How do I approach this? Ron

Ron, plant medicines can have a powerful impact on your heart health. An example is garlic. Garlic has been shown in multiple studies to reduce total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Now, although having garlic in your diet is good, it is unlikely to have the same lipid lowering effect as a standardized, concentrated, extract of garlic. Another plant medicine, potentially helpful after a heart attack, is Crataegus oxyacantha or hawthorne. Hawthorne has been shown through blood tests to decrease damage from a heart attack if taken beforehand. This is desirable because survival and quality of life (prognosis) after a heart attack depends on how much heart muscle survives. Generally speaking, the more heart muscle that survives, the better your prognosis.

Another plant medicine helpful in heart disease is called Terminalia arjuna. Terminalia, used in India for over 2500 years, was recently shown to reduce angina (the chest pain from heart disease) by 50%. It was also shown to improve ejection fraction (the pumping efficiency of the heart,) and serve as an effective treatment in patients who had heart failure.

Need more? Let’s consider a few other examples: Commiphora mukul (guggulipid), native to India, and Monascus purpurea (red yeast rice,) two plants with powerful cholesterol improving activity. In one double blind, placebo controlled study; guggulipid reduced total cholesterol by 22%, triglycerides by 21%, and increased the “good” cholesterol 36%, all without side effects. An extract of red yeast rice had similar effects: total cholesterol down 23%, and “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides down by 31% & 34% respectively. Compare these plant medicines to many cholesterol reducing drugs, which although similarly effective are usually more costly, have multiple side effects, and are potentially harmful: having produced tumors in animals. Does this mean cholesterol-blocking drugs are wrong for everyone? Of course not! For many people, and many conditions, drugs are necessary and appropriate. However, when a safer, natural alternative, which produces the same health benefit, is available, doesn’t it make sense to use it?

Ron, there are even more examples of plant medicines, which can improve your cholesterol status, decrease the need for other drugs, improve your heart function, and protect your arteries from narrowing. The universal answer however, for how YOU should proceed is “it depends.” To find out what nutritional therapies, or herbal medicines are appropriate for you, you need a comprehensive evaluation. Keep in mind that some natural therapies may not be appropriate or safe for you, especially if you are taking drugs, as interactions might occur. See your natural medicine specialist to start a plan right for you. Don’t wait. Arrange it today! And, while you’re at it, tell your loved ones today how you feel about them. On both counts, you’ll be glad you did! Be Well.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Northwest Center for Optimal Health at (360) 651-9355.

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