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Name an ailment, and there’s sure to be an alternative treatment for it apart from traditional western medicine. High cholesterol especially, which is one of the most common types of chronic conditions you can find. So what are the alternative treatments for high cholesterol?
High cholesterol, also called hypercholesterolemia, is not a disease, but a condition wherein there is too much of the waxy substance in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is useful in building new cells in the body, but too much can lead to many health problems. This can be caused by a diet that’s too high in saturated fats and trans fats, inactivity and obesity—or a combination of at least two of these. There are two kinds of cholesterols, and high cholesterol refers to much “bad” fats, or low density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL of high density lipoproteins are those that take excess cholesterol in the bloodstream and takes it back to the liver.

The scary thing about having high cholesterol is that there are no symptoms. It might be quietly blocking you arteries and you won’t feel a thing. These blockages can cause deprivation of nutrients to many parts of the body and complications include chest pains, or worse—heart attack and stroke. The only way to know if you have high blood cholesterol is to have a blood screening and from there it can be found if you need to make adjustments to your lifestyle and take medications.

Traditional medicinal treatments for high cholesterol include the taking of medications such as statins, a medicine that blocks a substance that is required by the liver to make cholesterol. Bile acid binding resins, a type of medication that urges your liver to use up cholesterol by making more bile acids. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors, as the name suggests, inhibits the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the small intestine. There are also combination cholesterol absorption inhibitors and statins.

Alternative therapies for lowering cholesterol include the natural way—adapting a healthier diet and losing weight. Eating heart healthy foods can help bring blood cholesterol down and these include eating more fruits and vegetables, limiting meat and animal product consumption, being wise about the choice of fat sources (canola oil and olive oil over lard, coconut oil, palm oil), eating more fish that encourage lowering LDLs while increasing HDLs, avoiding high cholesterol foods such as too much eggs, shrimp and duck, and limiting alcohol intake and stopping smoking. People with high cholesterol are also encouraged to take up more exercise and to lose the extra pounds. Even just a small percentage of body weight lost can do wonders for lowering cholesterol levels.

Other alternative forms of treatment include the consumption of foods such as artichokes, barley, beta-sitosterol, garlic, blond psyllium, oat bran and sitostanol. Guggulipid, red yeast rice, and policosanol from sugar cane are also some alternative forms of treatment. These can be available in food form or as supplement, but the benefits for lowering cholesterol are still debated. No studies have conclusively proven yet the benefits of the mentioned in lowering cholesterol. Some of these are naturally healthy especially grains and vegetables so there’s no harm in trying them. But to avoid risks, consult with your doctor first if you wish to try alternative means of lowering high cholesterol.