Type ‘how to reduce‘ on Google, and you will most likely find ‘how to reduce cholesterol‘ as one of the top searches! But contrary to common belief, not all cholesterol — a waxy, fat-like substance found in the human body’s cells — is bad. In fact, the human body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to support the production of hormones and vitamin D, and other substances required to digest food.
However, an excessive amount of cholesterol in the blood can combine with other substances to form a deposit in the walls of blood vessels called plaque. These plaques cause narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and brain. This will lead to heart attack and stroke.
Here are a few natural remedies for doing away with unnecessary cholesterol.
A Guide to Getting Rid of Unwanted Cholesterol Naturally
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that physical treatments and the consumption of herbal remedies can help to lower cholesterol. The treatments range from stress relief, natural, healthy weight loss, and treatment of indigestion or lack of qi (vital energy force) in the liver and kidneys.
A healthy diet
To lower your cholesterol, you should consume less than 200 mg of cholesterol daily. Cholesterol is found in animal-based foods and organ meats, shrimp, egg yolk, and products derived from whole milk.
Instead, you should increase your intake of foods that are rich in soluble fibre. These include whole-grain cereals like oatmeal and bran, legumes like chickpeas, lentils, kidney and lima beans, and black-eyed peas.
You should also prioritise eating fruits and vegetables. This will provide your body with a compound called sterols. Sterols work in the same way as soluble fibre to lower cholesterol levels in your body.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps to keep blood cholesterol levels in check. To maintain your weight, the amount of calories you consume through food must equal those you lose through exercise. Eat low-calorie foods and exercise regularly to burn fat and keep your weight in check.
Getting acupuncture treatment can stimulate your body’s natural self-healing process. Acupuncture involves inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin to arouse specific anatomic sites called acupoints. This is evident from the findings of modern research, which have demonstrated that acupuncture is capable of relieving pain. It also helps to improve a person’s digestive function, sleep quality and overall sense of well-being.
In addition, medium to high pressure applied to these acupoints located around the ear — SI19, TW21 and GB2— can suppress appetite and hunger and improve digestion. This promotes a healthy flow of qi throughout the body.
Similarly, you can stimulate acupuncture points that relate to the stomach and spleen networks to help reduce cholesterol levels.
“If you are a DIY type of person, you may be interested to know that there are 3 such acupoints found on the leg — zusanli (ST36), sanyinjiao (SP6) and fenglong (ST40). You can massage them regularly to stimulate them,” says Eu Yan Sang TCM physician Zhang Rui Fen.
Baguan and gua sha
Ancient therapies like baguan (cupping) and gua sha (scraping) came into existence 2,000 years ago. However, people are still using them today to treat multiple health disorders. Interestingly, both therapies share a common objective, which is to revitalise the circulatory system. As the circulatory system weakens with age, the flow of body fluids will stagnate. This will lead to an increase in the body’s moisture. Popularly known as “dampness” to TCM proponents, this stagnation can interfere with the delivery of fresh oxygen to cells and negatively affect their metabolism over time.
To perform cupping treatment, a therapist may require you to get partially undressed and lie face-down on a bed. The therapist will then place cups on various parts of the back and use a pump to produce suction. Alternatively, the therapist may heat the cups or puncture the skin with a thin needle before putting them on your back. These additional steps are part of heat cupping or wet cupping, respectively.
Body gua sha, on the other hand, involves a three-step process to relieve tension and improve blood circulation. This treatment uses a round-edged tool traditionally made from materials like jade or metal. The first step is to press and stroke the tool over the chest in an outward motion towards the shoulder eight times. Next, press and stroke the tool along the neck and shoulder in a downward motion, with eight sweeps on each side. Lastly, use the tool to press and stroke any part of your body that feels tense.
Certain herbs can be prescribed to regulate cholesterol by helping you achieve natural, healthy weight loss, treat indigestion, relieve stress, and address qi deficiencies in the kidney and liver. Red yeast rice extract, for instance, is pulled from rice that has been fermented with a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus. Taking a health supplement made with red yeast rice extract can provide your body with natural statins like monacolin K. This can help lower blood cholesterol.
Drinking herbal tea with organic turmeric powder can supplement your body with a compound called curcumin. This can help lower and prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and suppress plaque build-up in the arteries. In the same way, consuming a herbal formulation containing Hawthorn berries can help regulate cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow in the coronary arteries and lowering blood pressure.
Learning how to reduce cholesterol can go a long way towards preventing several chronic diseases. Therefore, you should consider a holistic approach, instead of a singular focus, to regulate cholesterol and maintain overall well-being.
This is an adaptation of an article, “4 Ways to Lower Cholesterol Levels”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.
- MedlinePlus. 2020. Cholesterol. [Accessed 26 July 2021]
- WikiHow. 2021. How to Do Cupping Therapy: What It Is, Benefits and Risks. [Accessed 26 July 2021]
- HAYO’U. 2018. The benefits of Body Gua Sha. [Accessed 26 July 2021]
- Cleveland Clinic. Cholesterol Reduction: Red Yeast Rice and Plant Stanols. [Accessed 26 July 2021]
- US National Library of Medicine. 2017. Efficacy and safety of turmeric and curcumin in lowering blood lipid levels in patients with cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. [Accessed 26 July 2021]