You may already know that not all cholesterol — a waxy, fat-like substance found in the human body’s cells — is bad for you. In fact, we all need some cholesterol for our bodies to digest our food and function properly. There actually are two kinds of cholesterol in the body. One is HDL cholesterol and the other is LDL cholesterol. The liver makes cholesterol, and we also get cholesterol from certain foods. So, what does it mean to have “bad” cholesterol?
HDL cholesterol consists of high-density lipoproteins. A lipoprotein is a combination of fat (lipid) and protein. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol because it helps the liver to remove cholesterol from the body. LDL cholesterol, which is also known as “bad” cholesterol, consists of low-density lipoproteins.
LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” as other substances in the blood can combine with it to form plaque deposits in the walls of blood vessels. As a general rule, LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Plaque can lead to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and brain. This may result in a heart attack and stroke. If you are struggling with a high LDL level, here are a few natural remedies that can help to lower LDL cholesterol and improve your health.
A Guide to Getting Rid of LDL Cholesterol Naturally
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that physical treatments and the consumption of herbal remedies can help to lower bad 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.
1. A healthy diet
To lower your LDL cholesterol, be sure to consume less than 200 mg of cholesterol daily. Animal-based foods and organ meats, shrimp, egg yolk, and dairy products contain cholesterol.
It’s also important to increase your intake of foods that are rich in soluble fiber. These include whole-grain cereals like oatmeal and bran, legumes like chickpeas, lentils, kidney and lima beans, and black-eyed peas.
Eating fruits and vegetables can provide your body with a compound called sterols. It works in the same way as soluble fiber to lower cholesterol levels in your body.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are important sources of good fats. They can regulate cholesterol levels in the blood and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Moreover, ingredients that are rich in antioxidant properties, like black garlic, may lower cholesterol levels and improve overall metabolic health.
2. Weight management
Maintaining a healthy weight helps to keep blood cholesterol levels in check. To maintain your weight, the number 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.
This TCM practice stimulates your body’s natural self-healing process. It works by 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 can also help to improve digestion, sleep quality, and overall sense of well-being.
Since weight is a determining factor of cholesterol risk, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, you can apply medium to high pressure to these five points in the ear — hunger, endocrine, spleen, stomach, and divine gate (shen men). By doing this regularly, you will notice a waist reduction as the body starts to normalize fat deposits after 20 sessions.
Similarly, you can stimulate acupuncture points associated with the stomach and spleen networks to help reduce LDL 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 — zu san li (ST36), san yin jiao (SP6) and feng long (ST40) — and you can massage them regularly to stimulate them,” says Eu Yan Sang TCM physician Zhang Rui Fen.
4. Baguan and gua sha
Ancient therapies like baguan (cupping) and gua sha (scraping) came into existence 2,000 years ago. Interestingly, both therapies share a common objective, which is to revitalize the circulatory system. As the circulatory system weakens with age, the flow of body fluids will stagnate, leading 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 a 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, using 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.
Reducing the Levels of LDL Cholesterol with Herbal Remedies
A TCM practitioner may recommend certain herbs to help maintain a normal LDL 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, which can help LDL cholesterol.
Drinking herbal tea with organic turmeric powder can supplement your body with a compound called curcumin. This compound can 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 LDL cholesterol can also help to prevent several chronic diseases. A holistic approach to your health that includes natural remedies can be a powerful way to regulate cholesterol and maintain overall well-being.
- MedlinePlus. Cholesterol. [Accessed 14 October 2021]
- WikiHow. 2021. How to Do Cupping Therapy: What It Is, Benefits and Risks. [Accessed 14 October 2021]
- HAYO’U. 2018. The benefits of Body Gua Sha. [Accessed 14 October 2021]
- Cleveland Clinic. Cholesterol Reduction: Red Yeast Rice and Plant Stanols. [Accessed 14 October 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 14 October 2021]