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Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced in the liver and is essential for the normal functioning of the body. It plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of cells and tissues, producing hormones and also protecting the nerve tissue. However, apart from being produced in body, cholesterol may also be obtained from animal sources like egg yolk, cheese and meat.

Cholesterol is broadly classified as good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein [HDL]) and bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein [LDL]). HDL plays a role in eliminating excess cholesterol from the body, while LDL leads to deposition of plaque on artery walls.

High cholesterol levels have been associated with a number of diseases such as coronary artery diseases, stroke, carotid artery disease, cardiac ischaemia and peripheral arterial disease. Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking, consuming junk, fried, and processed food items promote fat deposition in tissues. Some people are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol.

Apart from inculcating a healthy lifestyle, Ayurveda uses a number of herbs like amalaki (Indian gooseberry), haridra (turmeric), rasonam (garlic), tila (sesame), yava (barley), punarnava (red hogweed) and herbal medications such as kaishora guggulu and triphala that specifically act on high cholesterol levels in the blood and repair hormonal imbalance. Treatment procedures like virechana (purgation) and basti (enema) are also indicated for the treatment of high cholesterol.

  1. Ayurvedic view of high cholesterol
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for high cholesterol
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for high cholesterol
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for high cholesterol patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for high cholesterol
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for high cholesterol
  7. Takeaway
  8. Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for High Cholesterol

According to Ayurveda, poor lifestyle and stress lead to increased meda (fat) and a state of ama (accumulation of toxins) in the body, which corresponds to high levels of serum cholesterol. Abnormal fats circulating in body channels get deposited in the lymph. Consequently, it causes vitiation in doshas and dhatus, leading to increased cholesterol. Slow metabolism associated with kapha dosha is also considered to be a cause of high cholesterol. 

High cholesterol further leads to dhamani pratichaya (thickening of arteries) and causes a number of diseases.

Ayurveda treats cholesterol by promoting agni (digestive fire) and purifying all the naadis (channels) in the body with panchakarma (five therapies) and specific herbal medications.

  • Virechana
    • It is a purgation therapy involving the removal of toxins and vitiated pitta dosha from the body with the use of herbs or medicated decoctions.
    • Fatty substances, warm or hot liquids, solid food or meat soups are administered to the person before virechana.
    • The next day, toxins are flushed from the intestine through stool.
    • This procedure evacuates morbid doshas from all the channels in the body, thus decreasing the symptoms of vata, pitta and kapha dosha vitiation.
    • It brings about a significant decrease in cholesterol, triglycerides as well as increased HDL.
    • Improved digestion, removal of symptoms, a feeling of lightness and improved strength are indicative of successful virechana.
  • Basti
    • Basti involves the administration of medicated oils or decoctions in the form of an enema.
    • It is usually performed after a gentle massage and mild fomentation.
    • Basti restores colon function and helps rebuild organs and tissues.
    • This procedure is effective in the treatment of vata-diseases as well as high cholesterol.
    • It brings about a considerable reduction in serum cholesterol leve
    • Kala basti is specifically indicated for the treatment of high cholesterol levels. In this procedure, a person is given a total of 16 enemas, 6 of them being decoction-based and the rest 10 are oil-based.

Ayurvedic herbs for high cholesterol

  • Amalaki
    • Amalaki is one of the most abundant sources of vitamin C and is well-known for its antioxidant properties.
    • Amla fruit is mainly used in the treatment of diseases associated with circulatory, digestive and excretory systems.
    • It acts as an astringent, haemostatic, laxative and nutritive tonic.
    • Amalaki restores and balances pitta within the body.
    • It also reduces serum cholesterol and cholesterol content in the liver and aorta.
  • Haridra
    • Haridra has a strong and broad spectrum antibacterial activity.
    • It is used as a blood purifier, tonic and anti-helminthic and.is one of the main ingredients in a number of herbal formulations.
    • Haridra contains several active components which aid in reducing excess cholesterol levels in body.
    • It is also beneficial in the treatment of heart diseases, haemorrhoids, sore throat and digestive disorders.
  • Rasonam
    • Cultivated all over India, the bulb and oil of rasonam are well-known for their medicinal properties.
    • It is useful in the treatment of diseases associated with circulatory, reproductive, nervous and digestive systems.
    • Garlic acts a blood and lymph cleanser and has a rejuvenating effect on bones and nerves.
    • It disintegrates blood cholesterol and helps to free up plaque deposits in the arteries. This makes it effective in the treatment of high cholesterol, arteriosclerosis and hypertension.
    • Eating 2 or 3 cloves of garlic daily is beneficial for persons with high cholesterol.
  • Tila
    • Tila is prepared in the form of a paste, poultice, medicated oil or decoction and is used in the treatment of a number of diseases such as dysentery, amenorrhoea, and constipation.
    • Sesame seed extracts have a cholesterol-lowering effect and it aids in the treatment of hypertension.
    • It also provides symptomatic relief in case of ulcers, scalds and burns.
  • Yava
    • Yava has a strengthening and stabilising effect on the body.
    • It aids in reducing body fat and mucus as well as the removal of toxins.
    • It lowers total cholesterol content in liver by preventing the absorption of cholesterol from intestines.
    • The dietary fibres present in this herb aid in lowering blood pressure by promoting the elimination of excessive cholesterol.
  • Punarnava
    • Punarnava is effective in the treatment of diseases associated with reproductive, circulatory, digestive and nervous systems.
    • It is given in the form of juice, infusion, decoction, powder or paste and specifically used in the treatment of heart diseases, eye diseases, chronic alcoholism, wasting diseases and asthma.
    • Punarnava helps lower serum cholesterol levels as well.

Ayurvedic medicines for high cholesterol

  • Kaishora guggulu
    • Kaishora guggulu is prepared from haritaki (chebulic myrobalan), vibhitaki (belleric myrobalan), amalaki, guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed), adraka (ginger) root and guggulu (Indian bdellium tree) resin.
    • This formulation brings about a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol. This makes it useful in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.
    • Apart from removing toxins, Kaishora guggulu also helps in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
  • Triphala
    • Triphala is a combination of amalaki, vibhitaki and haritaki.
    • It acts as an effective blood purifier and antioxidant.
    • Regular consumption of triphala leads to improvement in blood circulation and reduction in blood cholesterol levels.

The type of Ayurvedic treatments given to an imay vary on the basis of numerous factors and an individual's prakriti (constitution). It is, therefore, advised to consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.

Do’s

  • Consume dairy products obtained from cows.
  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables in diet.
  • Consume soy and soy products.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Don’ts

  • Do not overeat. Reduce your daily calorie intake by avoiding ice creams, chocolates and red meat.
  • Avoid groundnut oil and fried food items.
  • Dairy products obtained from buffaloes can increase cholesterol levels and are therefore contraindicated in hypercholesterolemia patients. 
  • Smoking and alcoholism should be strictly avoided.

A clinical study,  including 22 high cholesterol patients indicated the efficiency of guggulu in reducing serum cholesterol levels.

A comparative study that was conducted to assess the effectiveness of haritaki, amalaki and vibhitaki on cholesterol levels reported haritaki to be the best hypocholesterolemic agent amongst the three. Though amalaki and vibhitaki were also found to be useful in reducing blood cholesterol levels, they were not as effective as haritaki. Apart from blood, these herbs are also suggested to be effective in reducing cholesterol content in the liver and aorta.

Ayurvedic medications and treatment procedures do not have any specific side effects, but it is always advisable that you check in with a doctor before taking any of these medicines at home. This is because every medicine may not suit every individual alike, depending on their body types. For example:

  • Amalaki is contraindicated in pregnant women. It may cause acute diarrhoea in persons with pitta dosha.
  • Haridra should be avoided in pregnant women and those with severe exhaustion and dehydration.
  • Rasonam may cause hyperacidity, excess pitta, and mental dullness and should, therefore, be taken with caution.
  • If taken in large doses, tila may cause obesity, abortion and increased pitta.
  • Virechana is not recommended in individuals with poor digestion, recent fevers or bleeding disorders. It is not advisable for very young, very old or weak persons.

Increased cholesterol level is a common symptom associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. Affecting millions of people, it makes one prone to a host of diseases such as atherosclerosis and stroke. Ayurveda describes specific panchakarma therapies along with herbal medications and dietary modifications for the treatment of high cholesterol. Along with medicines and treatments, a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits are conducive to improved cholesterol levels.

Dr. Hariom Verma

Dr. Hariom Verma

आयुर्वेदा

 Dr. Sarita Singh

Dr. Sarita Singh

आयुर्वेदा

Dr. Amit Kumar

Dr. Amit Kumar

आयुर्वेदा

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