Sunday, June 14, 2009

Are There Any Supplements That Will Help Lower My Cholesterol?

I'm a 54 year old woman who's a little overweight and my doctor just put me on medication to lower my cholesterol. Are there any herbal supplements I can take to help get it down so I can get off the medication? --Lisa A.

Dear Lisa,

I'm glad ot hear you are so motivated to lower your cholesterol! How much diet will affect your level depends on how elevated it is. If your total cholesterol level is 240 (the target is usually under 200) you may have a good chance of getting off the medications with a little weight loss and a lower fat diet. If your level is 400, then it's more than likely a genetic condition that will never be able to be resolved by your diet. Some people just have bodies that make too much cholesterol and medication is necessary to prevent the cardiac complications that you're at risk for.

I don't know of any herbal supplements that lower cholesterol, but I do know of one product I've seen help a lot of people ... Metamucil. This fiber supplement, promoted to help 'regularity', is made from a type of fiber that binds to bile (which is made in your body partly from cholesterol) and drags it out through your digestive tract, eliminating a portion of it instead of allowing it to recirculate back for re-use. Bile is an important aid in fat digestion, but if you eliminate more of it, your body will just make more and it will use up more cholesterol in the process. Metamucil is a great fiber supplement and there are almost no situations that contraindicate taking it (except for maybe recent intestinal surgery).

The fiber in it helps you have regular and easy bowel movements, the higher fiber intake may reduce the chance of developing colon cancer, it keeps you full between meals, and may help normalize blood sugar levels. It comes flavored, sugar-free, and unflavored (you can mix it into juice). You start with one serving a day and work your way up to three (when your body adjusts, gradually, to the side effects of increased fiber intake) and many people have reduced their cholesterol by 20 or 30 mg/dl using this product.

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